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Folding@home GPU2 Beta Released, Examined

Zonk posted about 6 years ago | from the nice-to-give-my-console-a-hobby dept.

Software 149

ThinSkin writes "Stanford has recently released an update to their Folding@home GPU-accelerated client, which includes notable upgrades such as support for more current Radeon graphics cards and even a visualizer to see what's going on. ExtremeTech takes a good look at the new Folding@home GPU2 client and interviews Director Dr. Vijay Pande about the project. To the uninitiated, Folding@home is a distributed computing project in which hundreds of thousands of PCs and PS3s devote a portion of their computing power to crunch chunks of biological data. The goal is 'to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases.'"

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149 comments

Global Warming! (4, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 years ago | (#23095408)

Just think of all the global warming caused by all those CPU's and GPU's cranking away day and night! And all that electricity used! The horror! They are making Al Gore cry!

(I am joking, for those of you who are humor impaired)

Re:Global Warming! (5, Funny)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | about 6 years ago | (#23095456)

you should start a StopGlobalWarming@Home project, where spare CPU cycles go towards global warming research.

Re:Global Warming! (1)

el_gordo101 (643167) | about 6 years ago | (#23095522)

This is built into most OSes already, read up on "Sleep Mode".

Re:Global Warming! (2, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | about 6 years ago | (#23095682)

This is built into most OSes already, read up on "Sleep Mode".
That's great, but Folding@Home doesn't work too well when the machine is asleep.

Re:Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23095612)

Doesn't BOINC have a climate prediction project you can subscribe to?

Re:Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23097902)

Delivered

http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/projects_showcase/ach/viewAchMain.do

"The mission of AfricanClimate@Home is to develop more accurate climate models of specific regions in Africa. This will serve as a basis for understanding how the climate will change in the future so that measures designed to alleviate the adverse effects of climate change can be implemented. World Community Grid's tremendous computing power will be used to understand and reduce the uncertainty with which climate processes are simulated over Africa."

Re:Global Warming! (1, Funny)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 6 years ago | (#23095660)

That's the price we way for trying to see God's face. We're building a modern-day Tower of Babel with our tech in our quest for the singularity.

Re:Global Warming! (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | about 6 years ago | (#23096230)

That's the price we way for trying to see God's face. We're building a modern-day Tower of Babel with our tech in our quest for the singularity.

Perhaps this machine could assist in our efforts to run through all possible permutations to discover the true name of God [lucis.net]. . .

Re:Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23096630)

We already know it. Its either Bill or Steve depending on what flavour of hell you wish the rest to go too.

Re:Global Warming! (5, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#23095738)

You shouldn't be joking.

Folding @ Home on a PS3 costs the average participant around $150-200 year in electricity if they run it 24x7. Up to $400+ in places where electricity is more expensive. PCs average less, but only because so many of them are lower power, while all PS3s are high wattage.

I think its a worthwhile project, but the electricity people are donating isn't free and F@H uses a lot more electricity than most people think. "Oh, I've got my PC on anyway", or "Oh it can't be as much as my fridge." both of which are mistaken, your fridge uses a fraction of what a PS3 running F@H does, and even if your PC is on, running at idle or going to sleep uses a LOT less power than maxxing out the cpu and/or gpu 24x7.

A PS3 running @ 280W 24x7 for a year:

280W x 24h/d x 365d/y = 2452800 Watt-hours/year or 2452 kWh/y

at $@.12/kWh that'll cost you: $294.00 / year

Then multiply that by the number of PC's running it... it adds up fast.

Like I said, its a good program and a good cause, BUT its not free. A kid/teen shouldn't be running it without a parents permission and understanding of the cost.

I don't like the F@H 'propaganda' because I think its somewhat deceptive about the costs. Its relying on peoples attitude that their free cpu time is truly free to prevent them thinking about the real costs. If you probe they don't lie about the costs, but ethically they really should be more upfront about them.

And now that there is money involved, I should choose the best use of it. When I'm faced with a decision of choosing the best place to donate $300 I think their are other causes more worthy of my money than F@H. But that's a personal choice. If you want to donate to F@H, by all means do so.

One final issue - generally when you donate more than $10-20 to charity you get a tax receipt. $150-500 quite a bit more than $10.

Re:Global Warming! (2, Insightful)

boombaard (1001577) | about 6 years ago | (#23096032)

hm.. this way you're directly investing in 'new' science, and you know what the goal is.. if you invest in amnesty/OxFam/whatever you know at least 20% is lost due to "overhead", another 10% at least is lost due to corruption, and even then (in the case of oxfam and related charities), there is a chance you're funding an organization that has more than a few members (statistically speaking, based on the amount of cases that have come out over the past 5 years or so) that indulge in sex-for-food programmes while they're doing their work. (That said, i do donate to Oxfam, because there just isn't an alternative i know that i know is better, and i'm hoping they're doing at least something with it that can be called useful.

Anyway, it is of course up to you (and i'll admit i'm somewhat cynical when it comes to those organizations), but if i had to choose, and if i had a choice, i'd rather invest in an @home project.. i find it a lot more intrinsically motivating than knowing i'm keeping a statistic alive that in 10-20 years might start earning their country some money through taxation because he's had his K-6 education.

Re:Global Warming! (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#23098172)

hm.. this way you're directly investing in 'new' science, and you know what the goal is..

Fair enough. But its a little dishonest if you don't REALIZE how much you are invested. That's my biggest issue. Once people know what it costs I have no issue if they're still willing to contribute. But it bugs me, especially since I beleive the a very significant proportion of the people contributing to F@H are not the one's paying the bills.

The other part is how much do F@H results actually cost, in aggregate? Is it good value for the science produced? They've consumed between $50 and 100 million in electricity. Could they have made better progress towards their goals if they were given the money directly? At the very least if they built their own super computer and managed the costs directly the waste would be far far less.

Not only would they be paying industrial rates for electricity instead of residential rates, they'd also be using far less of it because they'd have racks of CPUs not all powering hard drives, and what not needlessly.

Hell, just take a look at the from their site: (For the purposes of this I've assumed that it costs 'volunteers' on average $10 to run a cpu per month in electricty.)

190,000 PCs generating 182 TFLOPs. 191k cpus. Total Cost ~1.9M/month. ~$10,494/TFLOP/month
  41,000 PS3 generating 1257 TFLOPs. 41k cpus. Total Cost ~0.4M/month. ~$326/TFLOP/month

What moron would keep the PCs running?

A final note about overhead. You lose 10-20% efficiency right off the top with F@H due to the lack a tax receipt. I can donate $250 to a registered charity at the same cost to me as buying $200 worth of electricty due to the taxes. Or conversely when you donate $200 to F@H -you- pay an extra 20-50 in taxes vs had you given the same $200 to a registered charity.

but if i had to choose, and if i had a choice, i'd rather invest in an @home project.. i find it a lot more intrinsically motivating than knowing i'm keeping a statistic alive that in 10-20 years might start earning their country some money through taxation because he's had his K-6 education.

Between those two I'm inclined to agree. I tend to mostly donate to small local organizations myself.

Re:Global Warming! (2, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 years ago | (#23096086)

My tongue was only half in my cheek. I stopped running any and all distributed clients a couple of years ago precisely because of the resultant power/CPU utilization. I didn't do it for the environment though as I alluded to in my joke. I did it to save money on my electrical bill.

Re:Global Warming! (4, Informative)

SecondHand (883047) | about 6 years ago | (#23096180)

It seems that the PS3 40 GB consumes only half of what you said (135 Watts, see http://www.engadget.com/2007/10/30/40gb-ps3-features-65nm-chips-lower-power-consumption/ [engadget.com]).

So you can go and buy a second PS3.

Re:Global Warming! (3, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#23096734)

Thanks! You are right.

There was information when the PS3/F@H launched that consumption was 280-300W, but apparently that was actually around 200-220W so my post above was out by ~$70, and now with the newer lower wattage PS3s the price comes down even more.

But even at 135W, assuming the same .12c kWh I used in my original post that's ~$150/year. Maybe not a big deal to some, but how many would still sign up if they had to pay $150 to f@h directly instead of having it nickle and dime them daily on their power bill? I suspect the user count would be orders of magnitude lower.

Re:Global Warming! (1)

pedrop357 (681672) | about 6 years ago | (#23099242)

One nitpick-I can still use my PC while it's folding. If I sent $150 to them and didn't fold, I would still end up paying a separate amount to my power company for all the time my PC is up.

I used to leave my PC on all the time because we used it as an MP3 server and some other trivial functions. Because of that I didn't see folding@home's additioanl load as a big deal.

Now, if we could figure out how much more folding@home costs to run on a PC that's already up 24/7...

Re:Global Warming! (1)

jasen666 (88727) | about 6 years ago | (#23099450)

The OP already mentioned that...
Having a PC on, but idling, certainly consumes less power than one with a maxed CPU/GPU.
The only way to know for sure exactly how much a difference it is for you would be to stick an ampmeter on your power cable and measure it at both times.

Re:Global Warming! (2, Interesting)

dstates (629350) | about 6 years ago | (#23096460)

Of course there are also all of those Flash ads that continue to run even when the browser tab that they are on is not visible. They continue to consume CPU and electricity so they are also adding to your power bill. You think I am joking, but if you are like me, you may have a dozen tabs open at any given time and each of those pages may have several active graphics items on them. Adds up.

Good reason to run FireFox and AdBlock or FlashBlock. Even better, turn your PC off when you are not using it.

I was cleaning the basement and found an old copy of the New York Times. Still readable after a decade in storage and I didn't recharge it once. Amazing battery life :)

Re:Global Warming! (1)

evanbd (210358) | about 6 years ago | (#23096600)

One final issue - generally when you donate more than $10-20 to charity you get a tax receipt. $150-500 quite a bit more than $10.

The last time I donated to charity (clothing, not money), I got a receipt that said I had donated, but not how much -- I was responsible for filling in the details and providing any documentation of value I needed. If that's acceptable for Good Will, etc,., it should work for Folding@Home. They don't need to come up with a dollar figure, you can do that. They already tell you how many work units you did, right? Accounting for the electricity cost is your problem, but they should provide the details of who you donated it to that is needed for tax purposes.

Re:Global Warming! (2, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#23097582)

Accounting for the electricity cost is your problem, but they should provide the details of who you donated it to that is needed for tax purposes.

They would need to be registered charity though, for taxes. You can't just say you donated money to X and call it a day.

Re:Global Warming! (2, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | about 6 years ago | (#23097968)

They're a university. I'm sure they have that taken care of.

Re:Global Warming! (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#23098216)

They're a university. I'm sure they have that taken care of.

Good point.

Be interesting to see someone try and claim it though. I wonder if the IRS would agree to its validity.

Probably help if they provided you with a proper receipt of some sort, which they don't.
And I don't think it'll help non-americans even if they did, unless they were registered as a chairty in other countries as well.

Re:Global Warming! (1)

evanbd (210358) | about 6 years ago | (#23098312)

Exactly, some sort of receipt would be a good thing. But it shouldn't be very hard for them to provide enough of one, since they don't have to manage the conversion to dollars themselves.

Re:Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23096718)

Compare a PS3's processing output to a PC. It's doing WAY more than any PC I've ever seen.

Watt-for-watt, PS3 accomplishes more.

Re:Global Warming! (2, Informative)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | about 6 years ago | (#23097236)

Not really, it does more FLOPS but it generates less usable scientific data which is reflected in the PPD it gets, the SMP client (multiprocessor) is the client that gives them the most research value and thus is worth the most currently. Also, the GPU clients blow the PS3 out of the water in terms of FLOPS, and that was just when the x1900xtx was the top ATI folding compatible card. The R600 series GPUs have 320 stream processors and a ridiculous amount of floating point horsepower. So, you either haven't seen many PCs or you're just talking out of your ass, or a PS3 fanboy. Either way, you don't know what you're talking about. But then, you're an anonymous coward so that's to be expected.

Re:Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23097768)

If it's cold where you live, it's just heat anyway. Same thing with a fridge.

You can use anything to heat a room. A CPU, a console or a heating fan.

Re:Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23098050)

The PS3 doesn't break 200w at max in games :
http://www.hardcoreware.net/reviews/review-356-2.htm

And it runs at ~ 170w idle. Not sure how low it is in sleep tho.

Never mind that it gets significantly more work done, which probably compares quite favorably to the number of PC's it'd take to match.

Re:Global Warming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23098352)

Well, I have electrical heating in my house. In my case running F@H during the winter nights has almost zero effect on my bills, the power will be dissipated in the heaters or in the computer/PS3; I can therefore participate for effectively zero cost.

Of course I only participate 8 hours a day during the 5 months in which heating is needed: between 11pm and 7am (midnight to 8am when DST) electricity is at about half the price or Euro 0.05/kWh. Of course this is only about 14% of the time, but the cost becomes a very acceptable 17 euros per year (much less if you consider that it contributes to heating the house).

BTW, I believe that your figures are for the first PS3 with the Cell chip implemented in a 90nm process, the 65nm ones need significantly less power. The 45nm ones should be on the market after the summer, still saving quite a few watts.

Re:Global Warming! (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#23099268)

Of course I only participate 8 hours a day during the 5 months in which heating is needed: between 11pm and 7am (midnight to 8am when DST) electricity is at about half the price or Euro 0.05/kWh. Of course this is only about 14% of the time, but the cost becomes a very acceptable 17 euros per year (much less if you consider that it contributes to heating the house).

And thats and extremely reasonable and well thought out approach to it. But do you really think you are representative of the average F@H contributor? :)

BTW, I believe that your figures are for the first PS3 with the Cell chip implemented in a 90nm process, the 65nm ones need significantly less power. The 45nm ones should be on the market after the summer, still saving quite a few watts.

Yes, your right, the numbers have come down considerably since then. I just recalc'd for the 65nm process and the price drops to around $150. (based on 135W when running F@H), and we'll see what 45nm does when its on the market.

Re:Global Warming! (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | about 6 years ago | (#23099120)

Using a power meter connected between my desktop and the wall I only use $24 per year 24/7 (well, add 50% more for air con) on my FX55 gaming computer.

I made a page on a wiki for another site where you sell your cpu resources here:
https://www.cpushare.com/wiki/cpushare/ElectricityCost [cpushare.com]

Re:Global Warming! (2, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 years ago | (#23099472)

Using a power meter connected between my desktop and the wall I only use $24 per year 24/7 (well, add 50% more for air con) on my FX55 gaming computer.

Please show your work:

W : Wattage of your PC running full tilt?
P : Price of electricity in $/kwh in your area? P
8760 : hours / year

W x 8760 = Wh (Watt-Hours)
Wh / 1000 = kWh (convert from Wh to kWh)
kWh * P = Total

I'd like to see how you get to $24. Because that would require either telling me that your "FX-55 gaming rig" is averaging ~16Watts at full load, that you pay less than 1/2 cent for a kWh of electricity, or that your PC is idle and sleeping a LOT more than you seem to think.

My estimates put an FX-55 gaming rig going full tilt at around 180-200W, and electricity in the first world territories ranges from 5 - 35 cents, averaging around 8-11 cents. The number of hours in a year isn't really up for dispute. So I'm curious how your going to make the numbers come out without undermining your claim.

Your math is WAY off. (1, Interesting)

Frangible (881728) | about 6 years ago | (#23099512)

FYI:

Old PS3s (90nm):
Folding@Home with visuals: 215 watts.
Folding@Home screen saver: 185 watts.


New PS3s (65nm):
Running Folding @ home 157

Considering the GPU is still 90nm, that 157 figure should drop to ~127 watts when the screen saver kicks in.

Typical energy costs are also more like $.10/kWh.

127W x 24h/d x 365d/y = 1112520 Watt-hours/y or 1113 kWh/y
at $.10/kWh that actually costs moar like: $111/y.
Or if for some reason you're paying $12/kWh, that's still only $134, less than half of your estimate.

Please stop spreading FUD about F@H and inflating the costs by more than a factor of two. It's important science that benefits everyone and the PS3 is actually very power efficient -- drawing less energy with F@H than your desktop 3D card does idle doing nothing.

If you don't want to participate in F@H and help science and humanity, that's your choice, but at least post the correct data to support your argument.

I really hope no one got dissuaded by the bad data in your argument into not running F@H when they might've contributed a key bit of research important for understanding drug candidates for P53 cancer suppression or Alzheimer's disease treatments. Perhaps I'm being melodramatic, but arguing against F@H makes me a sad panda.

Unless of course you're a highly developed tumor who figured out how to post on Slashdot and fear F@H as a matter of self-preservation, which I could hardly blame you for.

KEEP FOLDING!

Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23095410)

screw that Mo Power Mo Money

I do the laundry once a week (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23095414)

I've been doing Folding @ Home for most of my adult life. I fold shirts, pants, underwear, etc. etc.

Re:I do the laundry once a week (2, Interesting)

cpricejones (950353) | about 6 years ago | (#23095638)

You can also visualize protein folding at home by going to www.pdb.org. The Protein Data Bank website has lots of cool structures to download, from small proteins up to large RNA-protein complexes like the ribosome (http://www.pdb.org/pdb/explore.do?structureId=2J00), which is one of the more remarkable achievements in structural biology. (Note that you may need a stronger graphics card to actually look at and rotate the whole ribosome as it is 64,000 atoms.) To actually look at these structures, you can use a program like PyMOL (http://pymol.sourceforge.net/).

Re:I do the laundry once a week (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#23097686)

The Protein Data Bank website has lots of cool structures to download, from small proteins up to large RNA-protein complexes like the ribosome
... and to the non-structural biologist, they'll all look like chewed gum or modern art (depending on which modeling system you pick.)

Re:I do the laundry once a week (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23098160)

hey you got to start somewhere. and early 20th century art (dada) was pieces of chewed gum ... sometimes

Re:I do the laundry once a week (1)

Drengur (1106543) | about 6 years ago | (#23098330)

You mean your mom stopped doing it for you when you moved down to the basement?

no one wins (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23095424)

ha

Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (4, Insightful)

Grokmoo (1180039) | about 6 years ago | (#23095484)

From the article:

ET: Whenever someone hears about GPU-accelerated FAH, their first question is why there is no client with support for Nvidia cards. In the past it was said that it had more to do with Nvidia's drivers. Now that the core doesn't use DirectX, couldn't a GPU client use Nvidia's CUDA? Is there any work going on there, and if not, why not? Dr. Pande: We are interested in CUDA and are investigating how well FAH on CUDA would work.
I am awaiting this with some serious excitement. Getting Folding@home working on Nvidia GPUs would definitely add a lot of computing power into the mix. This is especially true now, as it seems that the current crop of high end GPUs seems to favor Nvidia.

From the benchmarks I have seen, it seems that there are currently no games that can effectively utilize, for example, 2 9800 GX2s. If Folding@home releases an Nvidia client, those people who have plunked $1000 into graphics cards may finally be able to put them to use!

Re:Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (1)

bryce4president (1247134) | about 6 years ago | (#23095542)

Heck, I only have a 6800, but it sits idle except for a couple hours a day at home. I'd be willing to let it chug away. Bring on the Nvidia support.

Re:Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | about 6 years ago | (#23095548)

Don't hold your breathe for it to work on an intel GPU. The only thing that will fold is you!

Re:Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (2, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | about 6 years ago | (#23095558)

The first thought that comes to mind is whether the 8xxx and newer with the stream processors would need a completely different programming approach compared to the prior models. This being /., who wants to be first to pretend to know the answer?

Re:Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23096106)

All of the above.

Re:Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23096220)

All of the above

Re:Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 6 years ago | (#23097576)

Ditto. Hardcore gamers tend to go with NVidia, simply because they still market "extreme" cards while ATI is quite content as the on-again/off-again king of mid-range. There's a *ton* of Geforce 6/7/8 cards that could be put to good use with FAH, coupled with some pretty scary overclocked machines.

Re:Support for NVIDIA GPUs coming? (1)

cheier (790875) | about 6 years ago | (#23099110)

The problem with the current Folding@Home implementation is that it is comprised of about 50k lines of Brook+ code. While ideal for ATI boards because their compute abstraction layer (CAL) is implemented using Brook+, this makes it a bit difficult for porting to NVIDIA.

From what I've been hearing, while the purpose of CAL and CUDA are the same, the development environments are different enough to require the FAH guys to do a much more rigorous and in depth code modification in order to properly support CUDA. While I believe they are working on it, they are most likely stumbling upon some non-trivial roadblocks along the way.

One could only wish at this point that Rapidmind just abstract CAL and CUDA in their software... then you can support ATI and NVIDIA out of the box.

Ati Only (3, Informative)

Fross (83754) | about 6 years ago | (#23095502)

From TFA, interestingly this bypasses DirectX and interfaces with the card directly (I guess you'd want to, to throw maths at it instead of vertices)

However it only runs on R600-based Ati cards right now. It also requires .Net framework. They do say they're "investigating" an nVidia version, but that sounds a while away.

Interestingly also, it claims to parallelize processing the atoms, so it must use the individual stream processors on the graphics card directly.

Re:Ati Only (1)

Trogre (513942) | about 6 years ago | (#23097266)

... so no Linux version for a while then? A pity, since the OSS radeon driver has really improved in the past couple of years.

I guess my cluster will sit there with just its CPUs crunching numbers and its GPUs idle for a while longer.

Crude statement (2, Funny)

relikx (1266746) | about 6 years ago | (#23095550)

So let me get this straight, you keep your computer running for long periods of time. The goal is "to understand protein...misfolding"

Sounds like Pornography@home to me...

Doing this at work? (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | about 6 years ago | (#23095554)

What about folding@work? I have access to 150 computers, most of which stay on 24/5, and do nothing 16/5 (okay, maybe 20/5).

I, of course, would have to get the okay to do this, but I am not even sure I would want to...

Has anyone done this? How did you go about it? What concerns are there (security, reliability)?

Re:Doing this at work? (5, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#23095642)

Better check up on power consumption there, factor in 124 hours a week at 240 watts (conservative) x150 machines. Take a look at how much money your company is "donating" in raw power consumption, then triple it, cause for every watt of heat dissipated, it takes 2 watts of AC to remove it. See if your CEO approves of that donation to FAH that he can't even write off for tax purposes. (no receipt)

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | about 6 years ago | (#23095734)

you should check out the Kill a Watt [p3international.com]. It tells you just how much power something draws.

Just because you have a 240 watt PS, doesn't mean you pull 240 constantly. In fact with drives and monitors off, you might be pulling 75. At least for most of our common computers.

I am environmentally aware, but I did the calculation and 16 hours of a computer running is less than 5 minutes of a $40,000 PHB's time. So the attempt to enforce the policy of shutting down computers nightly doesn't add up to the execs.

Re:Doing this at work? (4, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#23095834)

There's a HUGE difference between an idle computers power consumption and ones whose CPU and RAM throughput are being taxed to the limit by a process like folding. The 240 watts I mentioned is just the CPU, northbridge, RAM, and internal heat evacuation. Drives and monitor are completely irrelevant.

You execs are right to dismiss the notion of shutting down a computer thats idle. It's NOT consuming much. However, when that same computer is crunching foldings numbers for it.... THAT is a huge cost.

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

Klinky (636952) | about 6 years ago | (#23095952)

I don't know what computer you're running, but my Core2 running @ 2Ghz(speedstep) idles around 134W. When I run my 8800GT full bore and my CPU ramps to 3Ghz I suck up about 212W. I would find it surprising if your commodity office PC used more than 100watts @ %100 CPU. The gap between idle & full speed probably isn't that much either as a lot of computers are not setup to use SpeedStep or Cool N' Quiet by default.

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#23096084)

2.8ghz desktop P4 uses 130w at 100% and ~20w at 1%. Although the C2D is rapidly replacing P4s, there are still quite a few of them in the workplace. The earlier P4s actually consumed more power, and Rambus ram consumed about 3x the power as "regular" ram.

BTW- you have a terribly inefficient computer if its sucking down 134w when idle... typical of an office computer is around 65w. Unless of course, you're talking about a gaming machine... (just realized the vid card you ref'd... d'oh!)

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | about 6 years ago | (#23095804)

I re-read your comment... I was way off on what you were saying. Sorry for that.

So is the program that intensive? Will it really pull that much power?

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

kdkirmse (801423) | about 6 years ago | (#23096178)

I believe you have your ratio wrong. Modern AC units will move at least 3W of heat using 1W of power.

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

RicktheBrick (588466) | about 6 years ago | (#23098906)

Just go to the statistic pages on WorldCommunityGrid.org. You will see that the top 4 contributors have over 5 million results. A thousand results per cpu year is a good rule of thumb so 5 million results is about 5000 cpu years. At $300 per cpu year that amounts to 1.5 million dollars so there are large corporations that are willing to donate that much time and effort.

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#23095652)

At my high school all computers had folding@home installed. Usually there is little strife from layer-8 types because the machines aren't doing anything during that time anyways, and a decent marketing department can spin it as some awesome PR. At the very least if you have install rights on your machine you can run the client on your workstation.

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 6 years ago | (#23096252)

I used it to test out a new server once just to make sure it was stable, after having crashing/network card issues during installation of Windows. Being the IT manager (okay, so the only IT staffer, hehe) I didn't really need to get the go ahead to do that though :P I agree that for that many computers, the power consumption costs really would be too many. For your own workstation it would probably be fine. I've noticed one engineer at work had his screensaver set to do climate change calculations or something along those lines.

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

Verteiron (224042) | about 6 years ago | (#23096398)

An interesting problem with doing this comes from an unexpected source: noise. Most of the PCs I've set up here have fans that spin faster the warmer the machine gets. When the CPU is pegged at 100% for more than about 5 minutes, the workstation sounds like a Harrier lifting off. Now imagine an entire building full of these...

Re:Doing this at work? (1)

andy_t_roo (912592) | about 6 years ago | (#23098622)

will you manage to obtain orbit? - the thrust of 500 harriers could manage that with a small payload. (assuming 500 computers per building)

Translation of "protein folding related diseases." (2, Informative)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 6 years ago | (#23095798)

"to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases."

FYI: This means Prions related diseases => Mad cow disease

Re:Translation of "protein folding related disease (1, Offtopic)

bradbury (33372) | about 6 years ago | (#23096008)

Actually this is a grossly incomplete statement. Due to the fact that the process of Non-homologous End Joining (NHEJ) repair of DNA double strand breaks involves the exonuclease (DNA end-eating) proteins WRN and DCLRE1C (Artemis), the repair of double strand breaks corrupts the genome via microdeletions. Microdeletions can result in frameshift mutations which can of course result in protein mis-folding. The accumulation of these frameshift mutations and misfolded proteins over the lifespan of cells has downstream consequences including less efficient or improper cell function (cancer or aging) as well as the induction of apoptosis (managed cell death) -- more aging.

Thus the fundamental processes which will terminate most of our lives are related to mis-folded proteins. It is not limited to the less common "mad cow disease" (which few humans need to worry about) or even Alzheimer's (which more humans should be worried about as research funding is failing to keep pace with either inflation or the growth rate in people afflicted with the disease) [1].

(If any of these concepts are unfamiliar, the wikipedia discussions of the topics are not too bad.)

1. One could get into a long discussion as to whether or not to consider Alzheimer's a protein folding disease. I happen to be of the opinion that any disease involving the accumulation of molecules that are not present in "normal" cells is leaning in that direction.

Re:Translation of "protein folding related disease (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23096304)

Thus the fundamental processes which will terminate most of our lives are related to mis-folded proteins.
Heart disease is the leading killer. Is it caused by mis-folded proteins?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_causes_of_death_by_rate

Re:Translation of "protein folding related disease (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23096824)

FYI: This means Prions related diseases => Mad cow disease
Umm no.

Protein folding is the process of turning chains of amino acids into a molecular machine that does some sort of work. The thing is, we don't really have the foggiest of ideas how that works. Oh, we know that these chains are made up of twenty different types of amino acids, but the reliability with which these chains fold is astounding and just unbelievable.

Imagine that you have a very long rope. Tied to the rope at regular intervals are large lego pieces. Let's imagine there are 1000 lego pieces tied to this rope. Each one of these lego pieces can interact with the other in (being *far* on the low side) and say 10 different ways. That's 10^1000 different interactions these legos could have. In just a few seconds, these 1000 lego pieces will spontaneously assemble into a shape. The same shape. Every time. It is mathematically absurd and our understanding of it is quite limited.

While we do have some understanding of chaperone molecules in the process, the whole thing is just a mystery.

Idea: F@H to help filter spam? (3, Interesting)

Viking Coder (102287) | about 6 years ago | (#23095902)

So, here's my thought - before someone sends an email, they contact Folding@Home, identify themselves, say who they want to send an email to, and the contents of the email. F@H gives them a work unit. When they complete it, F@H signs their email. Your email client can filter emails based on how many work units the sender did to send it to you. If someone really wants your attention, they'll process for a day or two. If it's a casual email, one work unit will do. Maybe even a fraction of a work unit.

That way, if you read spam, at least you know that you contributed to F@H. If you want less spam, you turn up your threshold for how many work units the sender has to do.

Re:Idea: F@H to help filter spam? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 6 years ago | (#23096344)

Uh. I think I'd rather use the phone. And that's really saying something. Usually when someone needs my attention, they need it very soon.. talking about work situations here of course, for personal email your method would be crap to middling.

Re:Idea: F@H to help filter spam? (1)

evanbd (210358) | about 6 years ago | (#23096674)

All the joys of hashcash, with none of the headaches of writing a cross-platform solution! And there's a third party involved, too!

Re:Idea: F@H to help filter spam? (1)

ascendant (1116807) | about 6 years ago | (#23098446)

If someone really wants your attention, they'll process for a day or two. If it's a casual email, one work unit will do. Maybe even a fraction of a work unit.
In almost all cases, it would take days. Most WUs take days [stanford.edu] to complete anyway.
Just find the list of WUs [stanford.edu] they have, and divide the number of points it is worth by 110. That is the number of days it takes to complete on an average computer.

no directX ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23095988)

bypasses directX? at last! no more needing to install an old component of DX that is no longer distributed in DX9 or 10. great news...and without DX its almost ready for Linux/BSD too! :-)

Re:no directX ? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 6 years ago | (#23096420)

Do I see several Amiga fans' eyes glowing in the murky gloom? :)

I guess they will still be using drivers for the cards though, even if they are not using DirectX? But this is closer to bashing right on the hardware =p if cards were all made to conform to a certain set of intructions (presumably along the lines of how all x86 processors have the same basic instructions?), we'd be able to eliminate the need for drivers there :p Old systems could use the new cards by having a driver for the new instruction set. Not that today's cards are slow or anything, but it would be nice to get rid of parts of the OS that aren't really necessary if you do the hardware interfaces right.. :p

What about AI? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 years ago | (#23096246)

How about we just use this huge processing network to emulate actual neurons and link them together as close to a brain as we can. Then we can see what happens..

i know it takes billions of neurons to do anything, but with all this extra power laying around we might just have enough to do it.

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