ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

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ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby smASHer88 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:07 am

Let's discuss some ideas about getting Sony's attention back on Folding@Home

Ok, so in my opinion the current Folding@Home client inside of Life with PlayStation is an absolute shambles! It's crap, it's so under-utilized it's not funny and no one knows about it! Life with PlayStation was the worse thing that ever happened. It shows that when Sony doesn't have a crack, they really stink at software, UI design etc.

What's my suggestion? A whole new approach!

We need a seemless client, that runs completely in the background of the XMB, and so operates all the time when the console is on (hopefully however they have PlayTV able to record in the background could help out development of this). Now there would be a lot of obvious exceptions to when it might run, such as when playing a processing intensive game or PlayTV recording etc. but the main objective is to be folding all other times (watching videos, listening to music, checking PlayStation Store, messaging friends etc.)

If this 'background' processing could be achieved, then we move onto optimizing work unit and project sizes to match the behaviours of PS3 users. Make the work units super-small in comparison the the standard computer work units, as to guarantee plenty of work actually gets completed and returned (I would estimate that currently only 24/7 folders and those using the 'shutdown after current' are actually contributing in a way that helps out the Folding@Home project, because they give consistent return of work, which matters most!).

Now, as to how we get Sony on board with our awesome little community...

Ideas guys?

(As a quick throw-together idea, maybe we could all try and find some meaningful contacts of Sony PlayStation's to then lobby them to re-invigorate Folding@Home on the PS3 through regular emails, idea submissions etc.)

I don't think Sony & Folding@Home approached their design of the client really well because they didn't factor in that no one just leaves their game system on JUST for a distributed computing project (unless you're the very hardcore folders, which I used to be). Whereas many people already have their computer switched on, even if it only really gets used for an hour or two over the whole day that they might have it switched on for.

What they should have done from the get-go is designed the client to be completely in the background of the XMB, with an option in settings to enable folding on or off. Then also make up an app that just lets you view more detailed info about the current folding. (basic info could be listed up near the clock or something). Then also design the projects to be split into much smaller chunks (i'm talking say 30 minute work units - or whatever their research of PS3 user habits and their usual console on-time is) and have these chunks returned quicker, instead of never seeing them again from the average joe folder. Really, from what I can gather, only the 24/7 folders, or the ones that are smart enough to use the 'switch off after current work unit' setting are actually 'helping' the F@H project... pretty much every other folder, who downloads a unit to never return it on time only sets back the project, because that WU has to then be re-distributed.

You only have to look at the current XMB and the dodgy incremental updates to the system software to see that Sony are just really bad at software altogether. Actually if the F@H client worked like background recording on PlayTV, then that'd be a big help.. so sorry, they somehow programmed a winner in that feature alone (the rest of PlayTV is an absolute shambles in user interface design and usability).
Cheers

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Re: IS F@H using the full power of the cell processor?

Postby MtM » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:19 pm

Background processing goes against returning the work unit as quick as possible.

The ps3 wu's are already small, see ChelseaOilman's comment above.

How did you 'gather' the info that most ps3 wu's are never returned?
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Re: IS F@H using the full power of the cell processor?

Postby smASHer88 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:05 pm

MtM wrote:How did you 'gather' the info that most ps3 wu's are never returned?

It's just something i've observed. They're not necessarily never returned, but just not returned in time.. which means it's useless. I've managed to recruit many many people into my Folding@Home team, but many only returned a couple of work units at most, and plenty had a high work units count to total points, meaning they only 'returned' work units once they fired the client up the next time which then sends the old one back for no points before downloading a new one for processing. I blame a lot of this on the lack of education to potential PS3 folders about work units, and deadlines and their importance to the project.
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Re: IS F@H using the full power of the cell processor?

Postby MtM » Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:05 pm

That is a solid observation, and a thought through explanation as to the why and how.

But, if you blame the issue on lack of education of folders, and you say you're observing people on your own team, doesn't that imply you're blowing the whistle about a mistake which could be attributed to your own person even if only partial? And the partial is something I say because I am not sure what you would propose for changes other then your own responsibility of educating your team members.

Would you like the client to show warnings and explanations before being able to actually fold on your ps3? Or do you think the failure is here on this forum, that there aren't enough indications about how to contribute to the project? The first has drawbacks considering it might also scare away interested people if they see such warnings, or people might feel slightly belittled by having to read a 'best practices faq' through the client before being able to participate. I do not own a ps3, but if I did and I would not already be familiar with the folding@home project, I would most likely try to read up about it before actually joining. If you do read through the forums, you would understand the importance about completing work unit's in time, but I do concede you would have to look for specific ps3 'guide lines'. Would it help in your opinion if this section had a sticky thread which gave new people information about how the client works ( and how the results are used, and therefore what the best way to contribute using a ps3 )? If it does, since you have allot of experience with the client and people folding with it, maybe you could get that ball rolling by starting with a ps3 specific best practices thread.

If the moderators feel that such a thread adds to this forums support function they will make it easy to find by making it a sticky thread in this section, so the thread would have to focus on this education and best practices without revering to side issues not directly related ( which might only confuse new people instead of helping them ). It never hurts to try to offer a fix for something you think is wrong, and asking for your fix to be reviewed by those who could help you spread the word.
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Re: IS F@H using the full power of the cell processor?

Postby nrimon » Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:40 pm

@smASHer88 "What they should have done from the get-go is designed the client to be completely in the background of the XMB, with an option in settings to enable folding on or off."
The best we could do in the scope of this project was to give an auto-start option for F@h from XMB. Please continue to make the most of it.
Do read carefully the comments from the moderators and other posters such as #MtM, they bring a lot of knowledge with them.
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby Jesse_V » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:31 pm

Have you read this: http://folding.stanford.edu/English/FAQ-PS3 The Client was a joint development between Sony and the PandeGroup. Also, 19,888 people are using it right now, and at least 1,140,043 people know about it. What may limit those numbers is that most people get PS3s to game, so doing something else on them may not be as obvious as using a multi-purpose CPU for scientific calculations. Its 3D viewer was the first to actual work reliably for people, as a stable 3D viewer for the computer is recently coming together in v7. Now I don't have a PS3, but as far as I know it seems like its more legit than stinking.

I'm sure that the PandeGroup has thought of having things run in the background like that. Perhaps the PS3 isn't physically designed to do something like that, I don't know. In any case the PS3 WU are specifically designed to take 8 hours to complete, so that users can run them overnight. Shortening the WU length would mean less computations get done per night, and that would be moving the wrong direction. Also shorter WU mean more load on the servers and an increase in data storage.

Thanks for the idea, and it is a good one. I just don't think its possible in my opinion.
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby bdwilson » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:48 pm

The current integration in the Life application does stink because by default PEOPLE CANT EVEN SEE Folding@Home! I had to do a Google search to figure out how to fold with my PS3, and from what I've read from other folders, this is quite common. I'm betting 98% of casual PS3 users who install Life will have no idea about Folding@Home because it is hidden and not listed anywhere by default in the "Life" program. You need to press and hold down the square button for a few seconds to switch over to the Folding@home channel and only then can you read information about what folding is. This is very unfortunate. I have a feeling if the folding option were more prominent on the PS3 menu, we would have 10X as many people folding 24/7 with their PS3s. Any other changes to improve performance would be welcome, but honestly..just a simple update that makes the Folding@home icon easily visible without any special button presses would make a HUGE difference in the number of people who fold on their PS3's.
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Re: IS F@H using the full power of the cell processor?

Postby bruce » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:53 pm

MtM wrote:Background processing goes against returning the work unit as quick as possible.


True, but not finishing a WU in a single session is much more detrimental to the "as quick as possible" goal than background processing would be if such a thing could be created. Creating smaller WUs would help. Making shut-down-when-finished the default would help.

Background processing goes against the fundamental design of a game console. If you design a program (game) for the PS3, naturally you have to design it to run within the constraints of whatever resources the OS allows you to allocate -- but you're allowed to use them all, without some other process stealing even a minor amount of those resources. The OS on a PS3 is very tightly controlled and the program you write can run on any PS3 without some strange incompatibility showing up on a few percent of installations where somebody happens to be running a background program simultaneously with your program(game). The PS3's OS is not a general purpose OS like *nix or Windows.

Though it's (remotely) possible that Sony's internal programming team might have been able to figure out a way to do it, but if they did, the additional QA to make sure FAH never any conflicts with ANYTHING else would be a major problem. That problem does not exist as long as all the features that run simultaneously are contained inside of LWP.
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby Zagen30 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:09 pm

bdwilson wrote:I have a feeling if the folding option were more prominent on the PS3 menu, we would have 10X as many people folding 24/7 with their PS3s.


Originally the PS3 client was not part of LWP, and there weren't ten times the number of contributors. I don't remember exact numbers, but at best there were 60,000 active at one time, and I don't think they were scared away by the LWP integration.

As Jesse_V pointed out, over a million people have tried the client. While it's certainly unfortunate that so few have stuck around, I'm not sure what can be done to entice them back or bring in a ton of new contributors. Noam said that background processing isn't possible. I don't think the client's LWP integration is to blame- while it makes it less visible, the original client didn't exactly have great retention numbers either.

It doesn't help that the client is not very productive point-wise. When the PS3 came out the 1000 PPD it could earn was fairly competitive with the PCs of the time- but that was almost 5 years ago. 1000 PPD now is not very competitive, especially considering how much energy the PS3 uses. I gave up PS3 folding in May when I graduated college and started having to pay my own power bills, as 1000 PPD/200 W (I have an original, power-hungry model) is terrible nowadays. As far as I know the intrinsic scientific value of the PS3 work hasn't gone up that much since its release, so the Pande group isn't going to do a massive increase in credit just to get more people to fold on them. I'm sure many others gave up on it not because they were dissatisfied with the client but because it just doesn't work financially anymore.
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby bruce » Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:43 am

Zagen30 wrote:It doesn't help that the client is not very productive point-wise. When the PS3 came out the 1000 PPD it could earn was fairly competitive with the PCs of the time- but that was almost 5 years ago. 1000 PPD now is not very competitive, especially considering how much energy the PS3 uses. I gave up PS3 folding in May when I graduated college and started having to pay my own power bills, as 1000 PPD/200 W (I have an original, power-hungry model) is terrible nowadays. As far as I know the intrinsic scientific value of the PS3 work hasn't gone up that much since its release, so the Pande group isn't going to do a massive increase in credit just to get more people to fold on them. I'm sure many others gave up on it not because they were dissatisfied with the client but because it just doesn't work financially anymore.


I have an original power-hungry PS3, too, and is only rarely turned on. It's just not worth the power costs in today's economy.

The intrinsic scientific value has not gone up at all since its release. In fact, it may have gone down slightly. There have been a few advances in computational methods for non-PS3 clients, plus the proteins that FAH is studying tend to be increasingly complex. This increases the need for hardware that can fold faster. The net result may be a decrease the value of the same methods at the same speed -- or at best, PS3 work is just maintaining the same value.)
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby bdwilson » Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:29 am

The PS3 crunches more numbers than an old Q6600 which gets around 4k ppd. I think the PS3 ppd was "fixed" at 900-1000 back when this was an extremely high number. If it were adjusted to reflect it's performance relative to last generation core 2 duo or core 2 quad processors, it would certainly be higher than 1000ppd, but this would be unfair to those who have been loyally folding on their PS3s for years at the lower rate, so it isn't worth the hassle.
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby Jesse_V » Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:36 am

bruce wrote:I have an original power-hungry PS3, too, and is only rarely turned on. It's just not worth the power costs in today's economy.


I agree. This may be one of the reasons that its not as popular as some of the other types of clients. There's an estimate on the F@h site that says that each PS3 will draw 200 watts while folding. I think there's some newer versions of the PS3 that draw less, so this statement may be out of date, but I'm not entirely positive. 200 watts may be too high, or it could be right on. Anyway, as of the 9th, 19,803 PS3s were providing 1,177 x86 teraFLOPS of computing power. This is 3,960,600 watts total for an efficiency of 297 megaFLOPS/watt. If you look at the June 2011 Green500 List, this would place those PS3s in 28th place, assuming they draw 200 watts.

I was under the impression that the PS3 could take the "middle ground", doing calculations in between the kind designed for the CPU and those designed for the GPU. I think that's in the PS3 FAQ. If this is the case, perhaps their ppd should be increased. Also, hardware power in computers continues to grow, so the ppd there goes up with it. Meanwhile the PS3 does not change, so over time it becomes less of an attractive thing as far as points go.

So, as far as computational power per watt, its up there. But as far as points per watt or ppd, it may be behind in the times in my opinion. But I don't even have a PS3.
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby Zagen30 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:08 am

Jesse_V wrote:There's an estimate on the F@h site that says that each PS3 will draw 200 watts while folding. I think there's some newer versions of the PS3 that draw less, so this statement may be out of date, but I'm not entirely positive. 200 watts may be too high, or it could be right on.


The original PS3s, with 90 nm Cells and 90 nm RXS's, draw about 200 W while folding. As Sony die-shrunk both pieces of hardware over the years the power draw of newer models has slowly crept down. I believe the latest models, with a 45 nm Cell and RSX, draws around 80 or 90 W while folding. Even so, the PPD/W is still pretty bad.

bdwilson wrote:The PS3 crunches more numbers than an old Q6600 which gets around 4k ppd. I think the PS3 ppd was "fixed" at 900-1000 back when this was an extremely high number.


What metric are you using to determine how much crunching is done? If it's raw GFLOPs, consider that that number does not correlate 1:1 with the amount of work done.
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby DVSA12 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 1:38 am

That is about right, mine folds at 65 to 80 watts ( ps3 slim)
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Re: ATTENTION: All PS3 folders - Let's get Sony's attention!

Postby devdog51 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 4:16 am

Honestly in my opinion, the thing that Sony needs to do is take the 8 hour 100 ppd restriction off. I have a Q6600 and GTX 560Ti SC, and I also have a PS3. My Q6600 nets about 7k ppd while my GPU nets about 22k ppd. I turn on the PS3 every now and then and fold a couple WUs with it but mostly its too much of a hassle to try to plan out my PS3 usage around an 8 hour time block. I use it to watch netflix instead of cable and so does my wife. If she gets on before the WU finishes, I just wasted all that power for absolutely nothing since the return of the WU is ridiculously low considering the allowed return time of a Nvidia GPU is 7 days for a WU that takes 3 hours or less. The cap needs to be removed. The ps3 can fold so much more efficiently even with its outdated hardware. I don't understand how it would be counterproductive not to do this. If you can fold more WUs per day doesn't that mean you can benefit science more? By the way, the fault is partially with your forum if you don't educate your team mates...no offense. I found every answer I needed either here on the folding forums or my team forums at EVGA.
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