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BOINC Exceeds 2 Petaflop/s Barrier

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the faster-faster-for-science dept.

Supercomputing 114

Myrrh writes "Though an official announcement has not yet been made, it would appear that the BOINC project as a whole has exceeded two petaflop/s performance. The top page features this legend: '24-hour average: 2,793.53 TeraFLOPS.' According to last month's Top500 list of supercomputers, BOINC's performance is now beating that of the fastest supercomputer, RoadRunner, by more than a factor of two (with the caveat that BOINC has not been benchmarked on Linpack)."

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114 comments

Finally! (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694723)

BOINC finally has enough computing power to handle Vista Ultimate and a few applications!

Re:Finally! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28694765)

Too bad it still falls below the nigger record of raping 50 white women per hour

2 Pflop BARRIER? How is this a BARRIER, kdawson? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28694963)

kdawson,

Answer me this. How is 2Pflops a barrier? It looks as though someone didn't bother sitting down and thinking that to say that this is a barrier would imply that there is some sort of natural construct making exactly 2Pflops a strange obstacle, and for instance, 4Pflops wouldn't be hard to hit.

kdawson,

I know that you're dying and all, but if you're smoking this much pot (which you must be to have such retarded headlines and submissions--sorry, but it's true), you really need to quit Slashot.

Re:2 Pflop BARRIER? How is this a BARRIER, kdawson (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28694989)

He was talking about Freestyle when he said DIY in his earlier
post. That is what Freestyle is, a DIY distributor for independent
movie makers. What happened is that a major, probably Fox bought
the DVD rights and wasn't interested in a theatrical release. So
he sold the DVD rights to Fox, probably for crappy terms, and they
laughed, sure, you can keep the theatrical rights, but we are
going to release this DVD in December so whatever you can do
before then, get it done. And Fox, being Fox, isn't going to help
promote the theatrical release because they don't make any money
from it, and it might cannibalize DVD sales. Then the theatrical
release essentially became orphaned. IOW, a distributor can't even
say, well, we will probably lose some money at the theaters, but
we will make it up in DVD sales (or PPV), and can still turn a
profit. So everybody's prediction that this was a straight to DVD
film was true. But Tucker, like a lot of other deluded film makers
said, I am going to find a way to get this into the theaters
anyway, which is where the sharks at Freestyle come in.

Freestyle says, "Tucker, we can get this movie into theaters, but
here is the deal structure, which says Freestyle takes no risks,
Tucker pays a specific fee per screen, Tucker pays for the prints,
but there is really no scenario where anybody but Freestyle makes
money." But Tucker has no choice because the majors have already
shot him down, and he needs for it to go to theaters to feed his
own ego.

There is an easy answer to your question as to whether there is a
remote possibility that people choose to go DIY (Freestyle) over
the standard route; and Tucker noted it in his blog, "it is almost
never successful." Experienced producers/directors can see a hit
on their hands as well. If DIY is so great, why doesn't everybody
do it? And the answer is because it is never successful. They make
more money jumping into bed with the studios and their
distributors than facing the cold harsh wilderness on their own
and trying to get more points on a film that won't have any
industry backing or promotion. The Yaris bucked the man with
independent distribution, and basically started Freestyle's
predecessor. They are bankrupt.

Yes, Tucker is that delusional. IF his stories are true, then
Tucker is a sociopath. Are you wondering whether a sociopath will
lie even in the face of contrary evidence? In the more likely
event that he is just a pathological liar, well then he is
incapable of even discerning the difference between truth and
falsity. See there is no middle ground with Tucker. Read his
stories. If he is capable of doing the things he says he has done,
then how much of a stretch is it for him to lie about a movie
project. It is always all about Tucker. When the reckoning comes,
(like when he didn't get distribution) he will have another spin
on it. When the film bombs at the box office, you will see Tucker
spin it that he locked up this great DVD deal and that it was
always his plan to take a dive at the box office because DVDs are
where the money is at. And fan boys like you will be then posting
ridiculous message board posts about what a genius he was to put
his marketing efforts into DVDS.

Panties Stink! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28694783)

Panties Stink!
They really, really stink!
Sometimes they're red, sometimes they're green,
Sometimes they're white or black or pink
Sometimes they're satin, sometimes they're lace
Sometimes they're cotton and soak up stains
But at the end of the day, it really makes you think
Wooooooo-wheeeee! Panties stink!

Sometimes they're on the bathroom floor
Your girlfriend- what a whore!
Sometimes they're warm and wet and raw
From beneath the skirt of your mother-in-law
Brownish stains from daily wear
A gusset full of pubic hair
Just make sure your nose is ready
For the tang of a sweat-soaked wedgie
In your hand a pair of drawers
With a funky feminine discharge
Give your nose a rest, fix yourself a drink
cause wooooooo-wheeeeeee! panties stink!

Re:Finally! (5, Funny)

basementman (1475159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694939)

I think you meant Ubuntu with Firefox playing a flash video.

Re:Finally! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695061)

Even as a Ubuntu newbie I was able to figure out from Googling how to get flash to work how to run things. Maybe you're just retarded.

Apple fanbois... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695107)

got nothin on you linux bois.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695115)

Look how upset that joke got you. Grow some thicker skin.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695123)

Ok, now try doing something else at the same time. Some of us like to multitask, even if we are newbies.

Re:Finally! (5, Funny)

ijakings (982830) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695109)

I think you mean OSX with smug set to maximum.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695623)

Everybody relax! Windows 7 will fix everything!

Re:Finally! (1)

HertzaHaeon (1164143) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695645)

I think you mean Crysis with graphics set to maximum.

Now all I need is for every BOINC user to download the HertzaHaeon plays Crysis project.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28696459)

I think you mean the Intel BIOS UI in text mode.

Scratch that, Windows Vista, because it's technically infeasible to generate bigger flops.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28696775)

I think you mean any web browser attempting to view slashdot. god its ugly

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695957)

It will be outdated in a year if they Dont use SSD Drives

Missed opportunity (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694725)

We could make T-shirts saying "Computer scientists BOINC faster", but I not sure that sends the right message.

Re:Missed opportunity (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695013)

We could make T-shirts saying "Computer scientists BOINC faster", but I not sure that sends the right message.

Most women who've slept with computer scientists would agree that they are pretty fast ;)

Re:Missed opportunity (2, Funny)

modecx (130548) | more than 4 years ago | (#28696107)

Most women who've slept with computer scientists would agree that they are pretty fast ;)

On the plus side, they know how to press the right buttons. Or, so I'm told.

I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 output.. (2, Interesting)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694763)

A good question to ask is how many kWh were consumed for that computing output.

Since they know what CPUs are running on every BOINC client and the thermal power of them are generally known, it should be possible to calculate...

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694817)

Nothing. BOINC requires no CO2 to operate.

It could just as easily be run on computers powered by nuclear or solar power, producing no CO2 (past initial construction).

Why does CO2 have to be the end-all-be-all of everything? Why not ask how much coal dust or mercury is now in the atmosphere thanks to the plants that power most of those computers.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694855)

I think the main point of the OP is BIONIC is using idle time, which means every second that BIONIC is running is a second your PC could be sleeping in S3 suspend.

Frankly I wonder if everyone running BIONIC relaisezes this... as if they live in an average US State it is basically costing them $10+ / month to run the thing for every PC it is on 24/7.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695147)

I'm aware. My point is that I'm tired of "but how much CO2 does it generate?" being tacked on to everything because it's the current fad question.

The coming ice-age was a science disaster fad. So was the coming overpopulation and world famine. And the ozone holes that would cause everyone to get skin cancer. And....

There are more important questions. Much of this energy would be used anyway, but it would be in centralized supercomputers. This way though it's cheaper for the scientists so we can get more research done, even though it's slightly less efficient.

I'm just really tired about CO2 being discussed attached to everything. "Should I buy new shoes?" "Well, the CO2 produced from rubber is... and.... but...".

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695795)

And the ozone holes that would cause everyone to get skin cancer

Duh, we're not getting skin cancer because we actually fixed the problem.

1. We discovered a problem: The ozone hole. We found it before it got large enough to start causing really big problems.
2. Predictions were made of what would happen if it continued getting bigger, and the potential consequences were unpleasant.
3. Actions were taken to correct the situation.
4. That made things a lot better. It's not been eliminated, but at least it's on the way to recovery (which will be in ~2060)

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695207)

There are a few things though, for one, many people live in apartments where all utilities are paid for (excluding cable and telphone service but including electricity) and for another, to most of us, $10 more or less on our powerbill doesn't really matter in the end because we allocate funds already for that.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695449)

Plus in colder climates the cost of electricity for running the computer is directly offset by the amount saved on using other sources of heat, whether they be electric, oil-based, or gas-based.

At my parents' house in New Hampshire, my bedroom regularly got to 45 degrees in the winter if the door was closed and no electronics were on, because my room was across the house from the furnace. I'd turn on my computer, overclock my video card, and play games until my room temperature was closer to 60F. Overnight, I'd leave it on with BOINC running to keep it at a reasonable 55F.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#28698859)

I can hear it now.

"Back when I was a kid I had to play video games to keep warm"

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28696463)

BOINC

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694955)

It could just as easily be run on computers powered by nuclear or solar power, producing no CO2 (past initial construction).

Maybe for solar, but in both cases that initial construction is not an insignificant caveat, and in the case of Nuclear, cleanup and waste storage bears significant costs.

CO2 is the end-all-be-all because the science is well established and reasonably convincing. Also, most things that generate coal dust or Mercury tend to generate CO2 as a byproduct.

Personally, I tend to just straight out how much something costs, since any cost fairly accurately reflects the energy input, and there isn't really any properly clean energy.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695285)

It doesn't matter than nuclear energy has possible waste disposal issues. My point is that discussing the CO2 output caused by this project is useless. The question is how much energy is wasted, not how much CO2 is created.

We just happen to be on a kind of energy that frees previously trapped CO2. We could be mostly on one that produces radioactive waste, or one that uses up silicon (solar), or ones that cool down the earth (hydrothermal, to the teeny-tiny degree it does).

If we are going to discuss the energy impact of this project, I want to discuss the energy impact, not a side effect of the most common power generation methods.

But talking about CO2 is cool, so people frame everything that way, even when it would be much more appropriate to frame it in another manner.

Iceland gets less than 0.1% of it's energy from fossil fuels, but BOINC wastes just as much energy for computers in Iceland as it does in the US. Yet for Iceland the answer to how much extra CO2 does it make is "basically none", where as the answer to how much energy it wastes is "5%" (or whatever).

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28698779)

Why do you keep saying "waste"? It's not like they're just running Prime95 or SuperPi or whatever. They're calculating things for various scientific simulations and models and such. Are you saying that simulation has no value? That you'd rather, say, set off nuclear bombs to test them instead of modeling them in software?

If anything's a waste, it's the electrons you used in your post.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28698971)

I'm arguing on the theory that it's causes more waste (i.e. CO2, nuclear waste, coal ash, etc.) than if the computer was idle.

I don't think it's neccessarily a waste. In this comment [slashdot.org] I mention that this "waste" may mean scientists can get more research done for the same money and in less time, which may be a net benefit to society.

I don't really think it's that wasteful. I used to run SETI@Home on all my computers. But if someone complains about the excess CO2 released due to software like this, I figure they consider it a waste, so I used that word when replying to them... ironically to prevent them from complaining that it was a waste and I should just use that word :)

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694837)

Since they know what CPUs are running on every BOINC client and the thermal power of them are generally known, it should be possible to calculate...

That only counts CPU usage. It doesn't count I/O, which would at least include memory I/O, disk I/O, network I/O.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (4, Insightful)

Chabo (880571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694859)

I can guarantee that several orders of magnitude more kWh are consumed by computers that are needlessly on and idle.

Running BOINC on a computer that's sitting idle helps improve its energy efficiency. It may be consuming electricity, but at least then it's doing something.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#28697407)

Makes me wonder...
As far as I know, typical CPU's consume energy in steps; there is no difference between a CPU that's idle (i.e. just running the OS) and one that's doing just a tiny bit more than idle.
Wouldn't it be possible to create a grid computing client that just does as much processing as possible without the CPU going into the next "step"?
It'd be very low performance compared to current clients, but then again it would consume no additional energy whatsoever.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#28699581)

BOINC pretty much ensures the processor isn't idling, its using the processor constantly, which is drastically different than an idle state, but thanks for looking at it from a completely ignorant point of view.

My PC doing nothing uses less electricity than my PC running BOINC, please explain to me with that in mind how it 'improves efficiency' of what you are calling idle processors. You can't, a processor running BOINC simply isn't idle.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (4, Funny)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694875)

half a million computers, times a couple of hundred watts would gives ~10MW which is about 4 blue whales or 3 diesel locomotives http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders_of_magnitude_(power)#megawatt_.28106_watts.29 [wikipedia.org]

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694975)

That's ridiculous, why would you use ~4 BW or ~3 DLs when you could use 1 POOT (Power Output Of Togo). BOINC uses about 1 POOT.

Surely we can reduce the inefficiency, and POOT less.

Why are we using a distributed system of energy-inefficient comPOOTers?

The big question is, how many cow farts would we need to harvest to produce one POOT of energy?

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (3, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695221)

Haven't you heard? The POOT is out as a measure of energy. People in the know(TM) these days are using the FART. (Free African Republic of Tonga)

I understand that Taco Bell has chosen to support the FART as well. Something to consider. The POOT's reign has come to an end. Long live the FART.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#28696903)

sumofabitch - that was funny! I can't stop laughing!!

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28697077)

sumofabitch - that was funny! I can't stop laughing!!

Just goes to show...

Even on a decidedly intellectual discussion site, a decent fart joke still blows them away.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695157)

How many Libraries of Congress will 4 blue whales power?

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28698793)

I don't know, but it'll get about 40 rods to the hogshead while doing so

Considering a spherical cow: 140 tons/hour CO2 (4, Interesting)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694923)

Lets say a typical computer running BOINC contributes 1 GFlop at 100W (1e2W). So at 2e6 GFlops, tats 2e8W or 2e5 kW.

According to the energy department, we can assume that 1.4 pounds of CO2 per KWh, so that says BOINC is at ~3e5 pounds/hour of CO2, or about 140 tons/hour of CO2.

I get a very similar number if I back of the envelope what a coal plant should be based on ~500 tons/1 GW.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/co2_report/co2report.html [doe.gov]

Re:Considering a spherical cow: 140 tons/hour CO2 (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#28699543)

CO2 ratings like this are retarded. As long as I keep seeing measurements in the form of weight rather than mass, I'm going to continue to think of everyone who talks about it as blabbering idiots.

140 tons where? At the surface of the planet or higher up in the atmosphere where it 'weighs' less? A cubic (insert whatever measurement you'd like) at sea level weighs differently than one in Death Valley or one on the ISS.

I might start listening when you start using proper forms of measurement for what you are measuring, until then its just political propoganda used for posturing and furthering some political parties agenda.

Re:Considering a spherical cow: 140 tons/hour CO2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28699847)

1 GFlop /100W is way off if you consider this http://techgage.com/article/intel_core_i7_performance_preview/9

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695017)

No one has an energy to matter converter yet so no one is outputting carbon in any form.

Unless I'm wrong and I've been sleeping for too long and we now have 24th century Star Trek technology.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695019)

The irony that climate models usually require super computers to run in a timely manner is not lost on me.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (3, Interesting)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695105)

Once that's done, we can do a comparative analysis of CO2 of all the machines machines running WoW (factoring in the increased power draw of a machine with a higher end video card, plus increased disk & memory I/O compared to a machine running BOINC). I'd be willing to be the BOINC 24x7x365 number works out to be smaller, or at least on par with a WoW machine going 4 hours a night several times a week.

Waste is, and will always be, a relative term.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695769)

The amount of energy consumed by 'comfort' degrees of heating and cooling would be far larger (That is, people don't really need to heat their house to 75 F in the winter and cool it to 70 F in the summer, but they do).

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695693)

Are the emissions really because of BOINC? I thought part of their selling point was that it uses computing power that your computer was going to waste on a screen-saver anyways.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28696495)

Yes, they'd be due to BOINC. Their is no reason for a screensaver any more with S3 suspend. Power down your computer in 3 seconds, power up your computer in 3 seconds. No need to leave your computer on unless it is a server.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (1)

orngjce223 (1505655) | more than 4 years ago | (#28698785)

And if it *is* a server, what else would you do with it? Small business requires streaming video feed so that manager can check up on store performance, we do that through webcams and VNC and thus need the computer. Yes, there's better solutions but this one's the cheapest.

Since said computer must be always on, we thus set Folding@Home to run on it so we may as well use the spare CPU cycles.

Re:I wonder what BOINC's contribution to CO2 outpu (2, Informative)

mhaskell (658865) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695727)

Actually I run the Linpack HPL here at the lab, once with two clusters (one 228 nodes 4cpus x 4cores each x 4 float ops per cycle, and one 1152 node cluster of the same AMD configuration) we hit 1.069 MegaWatts and I started peeling the paint off of a huge transformer in the basement. I had to do one at a time. Linpack is a power pig with double precision floating point if your cpu/thread/mpi balance is correct.

Still far behind... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28694823)

Folding@home [wikipedia.org], which has passed 5 petaflops on February. Note that Folding is a single project, while the Petaflop measurement for BOINC are the aggregate total for that platform, which runs many independent and often unrelated projects.

Getting that thing bundled on PS3 was brilliant.

Re:Still far behind... (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695151)

Also, newer (as in I'm not sure how far back it goes) versions of ATI/AMD's Catalyst drivers and control center installation defaults to installing Folding@Home. So when a PC gamer new to building their own PC goes with ATI, figure 1/4 don't bother to check what's going in the installation, and increasing the number of machines with Folding@Home...

Botnets (3, Interesting)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 4 years ago | (#28694849)

I wonder what the computing power is of some of the larger botnets. They are not likely to be listed in the "Top500".

How cost effective is this really? (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695029)

BOINC uses 571,534 computers. The indirect cost of supporting and maintaing the software, hardware, etc is borne by the volunteers but it still has to be paid.

Additionally, they claim it uses between $3 and $8 a month extra in energy in the US*, and double to triple that in Europe.

* This number is poorly derived. They based it on an 'average' electrical rate in the US, e.g. it looks like they added up all the rates and divided by 50. The average American however pays more than the average rate, because the majority live in the dense states where electricity costs most. Florida, New York, Caifornia, etc vs the relatively tiny populations in North Dakota where electricity is cheap.

Further, I'm confident that the skew is weighted towards broadband users, which further skews things away from rural North Dakota where electricity is cheap.

Further, they fail to account the extra cooling required as a result of generating more heat. Granted in -some- places where you need more heat this will offset your heating bill in your favor, but again, most people are clustered in areas that require more cooling than heating.

So, bottom line, I'd say their assessment of electrical costs is on the low side.

For the sake of argument, lets say it averaged out to 10$/mo. (Including europe.) What kind of computing power could you build and run with $5.7M/month.

Especially when you have the freedom to install it where you want, and factoring in that industrial electricity is cheaper than residential. With a $68M/year budget, could you beat boinc?

Re:How cost effective is this really? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695099)

Do you think you could get more than half a million people to pay to you $10 per month each?

Re:How cost effective is this really? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28698829)

Depends on what you did with the money. People are willing to do so because the money comes directly out of their pocket, while the only thing that BOINC/Folding@Home/etc. get is data. People are more charitable when they know you aren't gonna waste their generosity on hookers and blow.

Re:How cost effective is this really? (1)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695125)

You easily could, but you're not the one paying the (processing, at least) electric bills, and the huge cost is spread out over hundreds of thousands of contributors, so while it really uses a huge amount of electricity and money, the average user running it is only going to see a relatively small increase in cost of electricity, making it that much more likely that they'll contribute, whereas you'd be pretty hard pressed to find a way to get 68 million for any reason.

Re:How cost effective is this really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695497)

So it's like insurance. Or government. Or government health insurance.

Re:How cost effective is this really? (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695161)

I think people are more likely to contribute to BOINC and spend 10$/month extra on electricity and cooling than actually pay 10$/month to contribute to research. I bet a lot of people who contribute to BOINC didn't even think about the higher electricity bill.

Your arguments are all valid, it's just that from a marketing point of view I think BOINC has an advantage.

Re:How cost effective is this really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28699395)

Their claim that the cost is between $3 and $8 is in a *wiki page*. If you have better figures to share, then instead of ranting in slashdot, go ahead and share them in the wiki talk page, or in BOINC mailing list.

Grid computing != supercomputing (5, Informative)

SpaFF (18764) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695091)

According to last month's Top500 list of supercomputers, BOINC's performance is now beating that of the fastest supercomputer, RoadRunner, by more than a factor of two (with the caveat that BOINC has not been benchmarked on Linpack)

Sigh...why do these projects (BOINC, *@home, etc.) insist on comparing their performance to superpercomputers on the TOP500 list? Of course BOINC has not been benchmarked on Linpack. If it was, the performance wouldn't come close to anything at the top of the TOP500 list. A bunch of workstations running a grid client and talking to each other over the internet is never going to have the same type of message passing bandwidth as a supercomputer using something like locally connected infiniband.

Re:Grid computing != supercomputing (1)

NiteMair (309303) | more than 4 years ago | (#28696273)

Worse, for all we know, some of those TOP500 computers *are* part of BOINC... making BOINC ineligible for comparison.

BOINC is the software, not the computer.

Why is this being compared to top500? (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695187)

This is NOT a supercomputer. This is a cluster, and a very slow cluster at that. It seems like people think that anything fast is a "supercomputer" and as techies, we ought to know better.

What makes a supercomputer "super" is its internode communication. You have extremely fast links so that, in theory, any node can access the memory from any other node as it would its own local memory. Now in reality there are some performance penalties, but still. Basically you really have created one large computer, rather than tons of small ones.

This is a cluster, which is as the name implies just a bunch of little computers networked in some fashion working on the same problem. That's great, but not the same thing. The nodes do not have high speed communication, some may even be on modems and only connected occasionally.

Now, why does this matter? Well it depends on the problem you are trying to solve. Some problems need very little communication. A good example would be cracking cryptography. You just divide up the keyspace among all your nodes. There's also very little data to send back and forth. You send you the problem, consisting of the encrypted message to the nodes, and then all the communication from this on is:

Node: Didn't find the key.
Controller: Ok try this range.
Node: Ok.

As such link speed of the cluster can be very slow. Well other problems still work in a clustered environment, but need higher link speeds like gig Ethernet. 3D rendering would be an example. All the nodes can act independent, they are just divided up on frames to render, or parts of a frame or whatever. However since the problem and results are much larger in this case, they need faster communication to make it practical. A modem won't cut it for transferring images that are 50MB each when you are rendering thousands.

However, there are other problems where there is heavy inter node communication. A particle simulation would be like this. Since what happens with one particle affects all others, nodes have to chat continuously. For this, you need a supercomputer. The bandwidth of links must be extremely high and the latency must be extremely low, or else processor power will be wasted just waiting on getting the data that is needed.

So just because something has a lot of CPUs and can crunch a lot of numbers, doesn't make it a supercomputer.

Re:Why is this being compared to top500? (3, Insightful)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695365)

So just because something has a lot of CPUs and can crunch a lot of numbers, doesn't make it a supercomputer.

There's no reason "supercomputer" needs to only refer to monolithic machines with high-speed interprocess communication, merely because it has primarily meant that in the past.

Re:Why is this being compared to top500? (1)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695631)

So just because something has a lot of CPUs and can crunch a lot of numbers, doesn't make it a supercomputer.

There's no reason "supercomputer" needs to only refer to monolithic machines with high-speed interprocess communication, merely because it has primarily meant that in the past.

Yes there is.

Ok but that makes it a meaningless term then (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695661)

If any cluster is a supercomputer, then just get rid of the term supercomputer and be done with it.

Also there IS a reason, and that is because, as I mentioned, only certain kinds of problems can be solved by a cluster. Thus it becomes an important distinction. Is this a cluster or a supercomputer? If your application requires a supercomputer, you don't want to get duped in to buying a cluster that is being called a "supercomputer" that won't handle your app.

Re:Why is this being compared to top500? (3, Insightful)

dtfusion (658871) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695715)

Well, you're both wrong. You can't simply redefine the terms to win your argument and the term supercomputer doesn't necessarily refer to computer cores networked by a high speed interconnect. Come to think of it, the original post is absurd, because there is no way BOINC could run LINPACK which is the measure of the TOP500 rankings anyway. LINPACK stresses communication performance as well as scalar processor performance. BOINC would probably be slower than my desktop for that purpose. Like a lot of these silly comparisons on slashdot ("My hammer is better than your screwdriver!") it comes down to using the right tool for the right job. If you're not in a hurry and your job is "a bag of jobs" type problem, use BOINC or some other distributed/cloud computing approach. If you're trying to solve some type of PDE use a purpose built system like Roadrunner. Using something like Roadrunner for the type of jobs that BOINC is good at is just a waste of resources - those networks aren't cheap.

Re:Why is this being compared to top500? (1)

jdoverholt (1229898) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695745)

The specificity in the language exists to fill a need. Some people need to be able to succinctly identify the difference between a cluster and a supercomputer. If you don't need to then just don't worry about it, but that doesn't mean that there's no reason.

82% solution (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695551)

Strangely enough 410 of the supercomputers listed in the top500, or 82% are of architecture type "cluster".

Re:82% solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28696061)

Of those clusters, how many are using a high-performance communication link like InfiniBand?

Cluster or no, the high speed interconnection makes these computers able to do things that BOINC can't.

Re:82% solution (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28699397)

So just because something has a lot of CPUs and can crunch a lot of numbers, doesn't make it a supercomputer.

Actually yes it does. The type of computer you're talking about is a "general purpose supercomputer". Boinc, Folding@home and Conficker are all "special purpose supercomputers". Any cluster of computers that can act on a single dataset, perform a quadrillion calculations per second, and give coherent results is a "super" computer - at least today. In two decades it might be a cellular phone, but that's a different question.

And because you asked, Mr. AC, the majority (282) of the top500 use gigabit ethernet for interconnect. Given the high computation:data ratio of these special problems, latency is more of an issue than bandwidth. That's great because over the Internet latency has improved quite a bit as more people become aware of what latency and jitter do to their streaming media and gaming experience.

Since in these huge compute:data ratio problems data is passed for a second or two every hour, Internet latency is just not that big of a deal. As latency improves, the compute:data ratio will come down and more and more finely grained problems will be solved.

Re:Why is this being compared to top500? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28697365)

Newsflash: most of the 'supercomputers' in the top500 nowadays are just clusters with a whole lot of CPUs and fast interconnects.

The times of single system image computers using massive amounts of parallel CPUs have gone and past. It's 100x times cheaper to link up nodes using low latency interconnects like Infiniband and use smart interprocess communication and shared memory. "Supercomputer" is just a marketing term.

Anyone can build a Roadrunner just as long as you have a couple of 100 million laying around, it's just a matter of buying a whole lot of machines, cables and switches. Nothing super duper special about it. Roadrunner actually cheats by using vector processors to achieve that Petaflop, which means to even utilize all of that performance is only going to be achieved with very specific code and very specific simulations. But that's a whole other story.

I agree BOINC is no supercomputer, but neither is Roadrunner. Roadrunner just has more bandwith, faster connections and lower latency to it's CPUs and memory.

If you could upgrade every BOINC user to fully nonblocking 40 Gbps QDR Infiniband internet connections, you can run circles around Roadrunner as if it were nothing but a Playstation 3.

Homeless/Unemployed People On Treadmills... (1)

Xin Jing (1587107) | more than 4 years ago | (#28695227)

I think there's an untapped resource that's wide open for a non-profit organization to utilize that puts homeless or unemployed people to work powering computers. Imagine a company that sets up row after row of electric generating treadmills that homeless or unemployed people are given a cursory medical examination (blood pressure and heart rate), sign a waiver and generate electricity on treadmills that power computers. Like donating blood, the program participants can return again and again and like a comminuty food bank could achieve electricity generating goals to earn points that qualify them for food and clothing items that are donated.

Re:Homeless/Unemployed People On Treadmills... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695839)

Now there is a modest proposal!

Re:Homeless/Unemployed People On Treadmills... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28696561)

I'll get back to you soon on that.

Re:Homeless/Unemployed People On Treadmills... (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 4 years ago | (#28696671)

Alas, the economics of this are unlikely to pan out.

A fit human can produce somewhere between 150 and 300 watts continuously, with perhaps the occassional excursion to higher. (In contrast, one horsepower is approximately 750 W.) So, in a day, a person might be able to pump out 1-2 kWh, which on the wholesale electrical market might fetch a whopping $0.10. If the company is clever, they'd store and release that power during peak demand, in which case they might get twice that. Could you live on $0.10 a day? A homeless person couldn't even buy enough food calories for that electrical output.

Boinc Podcast on how it works (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28695395)

I will have a podcast with the creator of Boinc out this Saturday at midnight (EDT) at http://rce-cast.com

Barrier? (3, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 4 years ago | (#28696601)

Was there some sort of fundamental, theoretical limit that could have made getting to 2 petaflop difficult or impossible? Did a graph of BOINC computer power vs time ramp up from zero, stall around 2 PFLOP, and only now punch through? Did the administrators have to come up with some sort of breakthrough or new insight to reach this mark? Two PFLOP is just a round number - is it really any different from 1.9 or 2.1?

I think not: 2 petaflops is just a matter of recruiting enough computers and having them running BOINC at the same time. If it has achieved this mark, then it couldn't have been that much of a barrier, could it?

How to calculate the IRS deduction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28698865)

I figure if 80% of the use of my computer is being donated to a non-profit organization of any kind, I should be able to write off 80% of the cost of the PC, energy used to power it, etc

Shameless plug for team SETI.USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28699657)

For anyone interested in starting a Boinc project, be sure to check out the team SETI.USA. I won't post a link for obvious reasons, but I think the team webpage has already been /.ed. I know I can't get to it. Anyways, not all team members are from the US. All are welcome.
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