Folding machine

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pixel_pimp
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Folding machine

Post by pixel_pimp » Sat Jun 09, 2007 2:23 pm

If you were to build a machine with the express purpose of folding in the home environment - ie can't take up a lot of space and should be efficient enough not to put your bills through the roof - how would you go about it? Is there a 'sweet spot' for balancing crunching power against electricity useage? What can you get away with stripping out of a machine?

Not really planning to do it, just interested in the idea and how people with more know-how than me might go about it.

floffe
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Post by floffe » Sat Jun 09, 2007 3:27 pm

Probably a mATX mobo with integrated graphics, coupled with a dual core chip (not sure if I'd go C2D or AMD, depends on how much money I'd have I guess) and 512MB memory. Would probably run linux off a USB stick, which could cut out the HDD. Monitoring would be via mounting the work dir as a network share on my regular computer and checking from there. Admin work done via SSH. So yeah, very low power but still plenty of folding power.

autoboy
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Post by autoboy » Sat Jun 09, 2007 3:55 pm

Playstation3. You really can't beat the price/performance ratio on this one. Plus you get to watch HD movies and play a game once they get some decent ones. A x1900xtx folding will outperform it but the noise and cost are not comparable. With some modding I suppose a x1950 could be quiet but it will cost you.

A playstation 3 consumes about 200W of power. A x1900xtx with a low power cpu along would also be close to 200W but I don't know how the cpu speed affects the folding performance when you are using a graphics card.

Once the graphics cards and Playstation 3 started folding cpus are just a waste of electricity in comparison.

vanhelmont
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Post by vanhelmont » Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:04 pm

I agree with the mATX motherboard with integrated graphics and the dual core processor, but if you want to do smp, 512M might be a little tight. I have 2G, and the most total memory I have seen used by the 4 folding processes was about 16.5%, or about 338 MB. On board video will use some (my MSI k9vgm-v uses 128M by default, I don't know hoe low you can set it), and other processes will need a little. I put 2 G in it, because I didn't build it strictly for folding, so I want some ram if I'm opening a web browser or word processor or something. If I was to build a folding machine, I'd give it 1 G.

Yesterday I overclocked it, which is accomplished by changing the fsb speed. After setting the ddr2-667 memory to ddr2-533 (overclocking memory can cause errors) I changed the fsb from 200MHZ to the maximum, which if I remember rightly was 232, so 16% faster. With my Athlon 64 x2 3600+ running about 16% faster and the memory just a couple of % slower than normal, my progress through the work unit was about 13% faster ( 52 minutes for 2%, compared to 59 minutes for 2% of the same work unit before overclocking). The point of this is faster memory would help, but not as much as a faster processor.

I should now be getting very close to 1000 points a day, and I haven't measured power use, but it's got to be under 100 W.

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Sun Jun 10, 2007 12:17 am

Would probably run linux off a USB stick, which could cut out the HDD
how much HDD/disk space does FAH need?
Once the graphics cards and Playstation 3 started folding cpus are just a waste of electricity in comparison.
but the GPU and PS3 points system is calculated differently,so CPUs can still bring in a healthy points score for your team.

there are now some cheap C2Ds (E2140, E2160) that would make a good mATX folding comp.

pixel_pimp
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Post by pixel_pimp » Sun Jun 10, 2007 2:21 am

Does an onboard GPU use up electricity just by virtue of it's presence on the board? If the machine could be set up remotely from some other machine through a kind of virtual display (I've seen a friend do this with his Macs but don't have experience of it myself) could there be an energy saving in having a more stripped out board?

One of the things I was looking at was mini-itx - there's an interesting setup here which sounds to be quite power efficient http://mini-itx.com/2007/02/26/the-octi ... tx-cluster (although, once you have a cluster, the small footprint of the overall setup is kind of lost, I suppose)

floffe
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Post by floffe » Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:18 am

jaganath wrote:how much HDD/disk space does FAH need?
My F@H dir currently uses 35MB, 26 of those in the working dir. SMP work units might be larger or they might not, since they are shorter. Either way, 500MB should be plenty even with several workunits queued up. So a 2GB USB stick should easily fit the OS and client + data dir.

aristide1
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Re: Folding machine

Post by aristide1 » Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:11 am

pixel_pimp wrote:If you were to build a machine with the express purpose of folding in the home environment - ie can't take up a lot of space and should be efficient enough not to put your bills through the roof - how would you go about it? Is there a 'sweet spot' for balancing crunching power against electricity useage? What can you get away with stripping out of a machine?

Not really planning to do it, just interested in the idea and how people with more know-how than me might go about it.
I just ordered the parts for such a machine. I plan on running 64 bit Ubuntu.

Biostar T-Force 6100 AM2 mobo.
AMD 4000+ Brisbane 2.1 GHz
Corsair 667 512MB*2 CAS 4.
ThermalRight HR-01

The rest of the components I had. This build is considerable cheaper initially than any current Intel build and should OC 25% no problem. Then I will retire my Pentium III folder, so my running costs won't increase much, if at all.

The mobo was hard to find (only found it at Directron). I chose it over the newer NVidia 7025 and 7050 boards as they don't run any Linux support yet.

vg30et
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Re: Folding machine

Post by vg30et » Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:44 am

I just upgraded my home server from a Socket 370 celeron to a machine similar to what aristide1 posted. Since I'm running Windows, I went with the 7050 board. Specs are:

AMD X2 3600+ 65nm Brisbane
Biostar TF7050-M2
Thermalright Ultra 120-Extreme (will be moved to a different system soon)
Corsair 2GB DDR2-800 RAM
Morex 150w power brick with fan removed
250gb Spinpoint IDE drive in Scythe enclosure

System draws under 40W idle (1.0ghz@0.95V) and 77W(1.9ghz@1.2v) while folding. It pulls around 600ppd at stock clock speeds.

Newegg currently has this combo at < $128 so for the price and power usage, it's hard to beat.

FWIW, I tested the rig at 3ghz@1.45V and it only gained 100ppd in folding but power consumption went up by 100W.

Webfire
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Post by Webfire » Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:00 am

I have an old Athlon XP 2500+ and I'm thinking about a cheap upgrade.
Both of your choices look nice but I need a DVI Output.

What do you think about the ASUS M2A-VM HDMI. It's even cheaper than the Biostar and has a lot more features. Are there any drawbacks?

vg30et
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Post by vg30et » Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:26 am

Webfire wrote:I have an old Athlon XP 2500+ and I'm thinking about a cheap upgrade.
Both of your choices look nice but I need a DVI Output.

What do you think about the ASUS M2A-VM HDMI. It's even cheaper than the Biostar and has a lot more features. Are there any drawbacks?
The Biostar 7050 has a HDMI to DVI connector that comes with the package. I went with the 7050 chipset because I was under the impression that the 690g chipset has slightly higher power consumption and I wanted onboard HDMI that doesn't take up the PCI-E slot.

aristide1
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Re: Folding machine

Post by aristide1 » Thu Jul 19, 2007 2:14 pm

vg30et wrote:.....FWIW, I tested the rig at 3ghz@1.45V and it only gained 100ppd in folding but power consumption went up by 100W.
How can that be? You're memory should be running faster as well, no? Or did it reset to a slower speed?

How much voltage do you need to take the FSB to 250MHz? Appx 2.45GHz?

What OS?

On one of those power supply calculators I noted that OC'ing makes the wattage requirements climb really fast. Even more so with AMD processors.

vg30et
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Re: Folding machine

Post by vg30et » Thu Jul 19, 2007 5:56 pm

aristide1 wrote: How can that be? You're memory should be running faster as well, no? Or did it reset to a slower speed?

How much voltage do you need to take the FSB to 250MHz? Appx 2.45GHz?

What OS?
You're right, I probably had the mem underclocked or perhaps it was unstable. I have some new numbers for project 2652 under Windows:

Stock@1.9ghz, 1.2V, RAM@800mhz: 663PPD (77W or 8.6ppw)
OC'd@2.71ghz, 1.3V, RAM@773mhz: 900PPD (112W or 8.03ppw)

aristide1
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Re: Folding machine

Post by aristide1 » Thu Jul 19, 2007 6:37 pm

vg30et wrote:You're right, I probably had the mem underclocked or perhaps it was unstable. I have some new numbers for project 2652 under Windows:

Stock@1.9ghz, 1.2V, RAM@800mhz: 663PPD (77W or 8.6ppw)
OC'd@2.71ghz, 1.3V, RAM@773mhz: 900PPD (112W or 8.03ppw)
??? You can't set a fixed FSB:Memory ratio? Or perhaps at the lower speed you can lower the CAS? From 5 to 4?

Excellent, I would love to know everyone's ppw. That would be great green race.

I'm thinking of OCing just in the winter when the extra heat is welcome.
:mrgreen:

aristide1
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Re: Folding machine

Post by aristide1 » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:18 am

vg30et wrote:You're right, I probably had the mem underclocked or perhaps it was unstable. I have some new numbers for project 2652 under Windows:

Stock @ 1.9ghz, 1.2V, RAM@800mhz: 663PPD (77W or 8.6ppw)
OC'd @ 2.71ghz, 1.3V, RAM@773mhz: 900PPD (112W or 8.03ppw)
Vg, this is why certain decisions were made during my purchase, along with the Seasonic Kill-A-Watt device.

1. The 4000+, no matter what final FSB I settle on I'll still be running 200MHz faster than a 3600+

2. The stock AMD heat sink is a good safe place to start practicing my lapping skills, which I currently have zero experience but want some. The retail box approach suggest less of a chance of bent pins, which would drive me nuts.

3. The Corsair DDR2-667 CAS 4. OC's like crazy (I suspect it is physically no different than the 800MHz version of the model.) I realize I may not be able to set the memory frequency as you encountered so I can set this memory as DDR2-800 and at some FSB's it will run below 800MHz, somewhere in the 700+ range, which this memory can do standing on it's head and still at CAS4.

4. Gain some AMD and Linux experience as well.

Great article:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/pr ... sbane.html

It include the real speeds memory will run for each processor speed.

The one thng I hate about performance graphs is they never include folding. I would a standard of WU types and the amount of time it takes to complete them as a measure of performance.

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