Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

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Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby World Control » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:28 pm

Hi,

I'm currently running F@H on 3 Macs (i5 iMac, Quad-Core Mac Pro, Dual-Core Mini running Windows 7 using Boot Camp). These machines run 24/7/365.

I also have a nice new i7 iMac at home. This is the machine I use for websurfing, non-work stuff. I turn it off when I'm done with it. It gets very light usage, because the other computers are the ones I do my heavy-lifting, work-related computing on.

I installed F@H on the i7 iMac and it works like a champ, but the F@H servers recognize my machine as having a fairly robust and capable CPU, so I get work packets that need to be done in 3-5 days. I definitely will not be getting the WUs done in that amount of time because I turn the computer off when I'm finished with it. I have since uninstalled W@H on the i7 iMac until I determine what to do, and pending any advice from you folks.

Why don't I just run the i7 iMac 24/7? Well, it runs warm, as you are probably aware. I'm not concerned that it will "burn itself up", because it was designed to handle the thermals. I have software that checks all this, and I'm not really concerned about that aspect. What does happen, though, is that it heats up the little room it's in. I don't really have the options to either move the computer somewhere more thermal-friendly, or air condition the room. I also have the niggling guilt of running a 4th computer 24/7 because of the energy usage. The other computers do other things when I'm not around, so that isn't a concern with those machines, but the i7 iMac I'm talking about really doesn't have any other chores to do when I'm not around.

So, the question is, can I get WUs that have extended due-dates by manipulating settings? Do the F@H servers work around this problem intelligently by assessing my CPU's progress somehow? Or, am I just out of luck?
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby John_Weatherman » Sat Apr 30, 2011 2:23 am

You need to do uni-processor clients without the adv flag and "normal" size workunits. Should do the trick, but you will not be getting thousands of points :(
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby World Control » Sat Apr 30, 2011 2:26 am

Ah, that makes sense. A down-rated core. Of course. Well, thanks for that. I'll give it a whirl.
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby World Control » Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:24 am

I looked around a little bit after being on the hunt for a different core. I checked the Wiki and FAQs, and searched this forum looking for a uni-processor core that I can run on my i7 iMac, but I didn't see anything I could use.

The old PowerPC cores are available, but they aren't recommended for Intel-based Macs. Also, it looks like the client updates the cores automatically if it sees an update available.

I'm not sure I can pursue this idea of installing a down-rated core, unless I'm missing something. Does anyone have a possible solution for my issue [see initial post]?
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby k1wi » Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:47 am

you install the regular uni-processor client (or one client per physical core, setting a different machine ID for each client) and don't use the -smp flag.

The console version, 6.23 would be your best bet, although there is the v7 client out. guide for v6 console here: http://folding.stanford.edu/English/WinUNIGuide#ntoc4
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby Zagen30 » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:05 am

k1wi wrote:you install the regular uni-processor client (or one client per physical core, setting a different machine ID for each client) and don't use the -smp flag.

The console version, 6.23 would be your best bet, although there is the v7 client out. guide for v6 console here: http://folding.stanford.edu/English/WinUNIGuide#ntoc4


He has a Mac. I could have sworn there weren't any uniprocessor cores/clients for Intel Macs.

If that's true, OP, you may be out of luck. I don't know if V7 allows Intel Macs to get uniprocessor cores/jobs, so you may want to try it, but you may have to accept that it's either multiple days spent on an SMP WU or nothing.

When you say the i7 Mac gets light use, how light is light? I have an i7 box, and while it is OC'ed a fair amount (3.8 GHz), it can get most regular SMP WUs done in about 5 hours (12 hours for 670x, but those have longer deadlines), so I'd imagine a stock i7 isn't too much worse. Are you sure you can't finish a WU before the deadline?
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby k1wi » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:07 am

Ah yes, my appologies, I overlooked that.

Is it possible to install a fresh instance of the client and run it from the start without the -smp flag?
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby PantherX » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:09 am

Umm... currently, there isn't any Classic WUs for the OSX systems :( The V7 doesn't change that since it uses the same FahCores that are being used by v6 (with the exception of FahCore_16)

From your initial post, I gather that you run the system for a few hours a day. If you run the system 24/7 with the SMP Client, it generates more heat than you want. Now, a possible solution for you to consider is to run a single instance of the SMP Client with -smp 4 or -smp 6 (depending on your CPU Model) flag. I am assuming that since it is a i7, you will have 8 or 12 CPUs in the OSX equivalent of Windows Task Manager. That way, the heat produced will be less but you might to run the system 24/7.
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby World Control » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:20 am

Thanks all for the responses. Regarding the question of light use: It's pretty light. I go whole days without using it. I use it mainly on the weekends. After work I have no interest in using a computer anymore, so Monday thru Friday it's maybe 2-3 hours total. I have it because, well, I have to have a computer at home. :) Like a lot of you, I practically live at work during the week--get home late, etc.--so I do almost all my computing away from home.

I'm content to let my other 3 work-related computers do the work and garner the points (over 3,000,000 so far :D ), but you undoubtedly know the desire to corral those few unused CPU cycles [especially you overclockers]. I just wanted to put my little old iMac in the game. I guess he'll have to warm the bench until something comes along that he can handle.

EDIT: I was writing while others were posting, so here's an edit.

I'll try the flags. I haven't messed with those yet. I'm still learning about tweaking the clients. Up until now I haven't had to. I just installed the latest client and voom... I was off and running. I have been folding for a while, but it seems I've missed a lot about how to optimize. Like I said, I never really had to before, so I never looked.

EDIT2: I didn't quantify my weekend online time, and that I run the iMac moderately on the weekends; maybe 4-5 hours each day. No big shakes, but more than during the week.
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby codysluder » Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:30 am

Flags won't help. At the present time, the intel-based Macs can only run smp. There has never been an announced plan to create a uniprocessor core for the Mac other than the PPC version, which won't do you any good. In the past they have had difficulties getting all cores to run on all platforms and apparently getting things to run on OSX has often been a bigger problem than they could afford to make work.

I do know that FAH is working on FahCore_a4 which is supposed to be able to run in either uniprocessor or smp mode. I have not seen any hints about whether the _a4 core will run on OSX or not, but if it does, that might provide longer deadline assignments for that machine. Until that happens, you can't fold on that machine.
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby John_Weatherman » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:35 am

The only other thing is to use a small linux OS, like Puppy, on a USB or disc, then you can do uni-processor WUs. Depending on what else you want to do when the machine is on, of course. Browsing, mailing, text editing etc is no problem - if I can install it, anyone can!
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Re: Should I run F@H on light-usage computer?

Postby World Control » Sun May 01, 2011 9:09 pm

I thought I'd wrap-up this thread with my findings so that anyone who lands on this thread after a Search will find out what the resolution of my issue has been.

First of all, thank you to all the fine and gracious contributors to this thread. Your input has helped me find a solution for my situation.

My solution isn't a tweak or setting to the F@H software. The solution I've found is both procedural and with the use of 3rd-party apps and utilities. What follows are not necessarily 'steps', but more like hybrid bullet points:

1) I installed InCrease, which is a very elegant piece of software from a member of TeamMacOSX (thanks to that member for such a nice piece of software, BTW. There's more about the SW when you reach the Tools page). You can find it by clicking on the "Tools" link at the top of this page.

2) I installed a fan-control utility called "smcFanControl". Search for it on the Web if you'd like more info or reviews. I downloaded it from the developer at eidac.de. I like it. It's unobtrusive both on your desktop and as it interacts with your computer under-the-hood. It also has a polished and functional GUI.

3) I bought a very-reasonably-priced license for the fully functional, and very useful software "Hardware Monitor". There are several pieces of SW out there that have similar names, but the one I have is from Software-Systeme. I really like this software. It's quite robust. Basically, it reads all the hardware sensors that are already built into your Mac. It displays them on your screen. The way it displays these values is very customizable, so you can set it up the way that suits you. You can set alarms (I use the cool text-to-voice feature), and get reports.

4) I use Hardware Monitor to see what my CPU Cores are doing temperature-wise. I checked on the Intel site for the TJmax (Thermal Junction Maximum Temperature) for my CPU (an i7) [I believe it's also called "Tjunction"]. It's a blistering 212°F (100°C). Hot enough to boil water. TJmax is the "do not exceed" temperature of the chip, and the point where your computer will throttle itself to reduce that temperature. If you've reached TJmax, you're almost certainly in trouble heat-wise.

5) TJmax is, as stated, the do-not-exceed temperature--under any circumstance--of your CPU's core, but that doesn't mean you can ramp your CPU core up to within 1° of TJmax and leave it there. That would be the equivalent of a lab experiment to see how long it would be before your computer failed. There's another Intel-supplied temperature measurement. It's called "Tcase". My [incomplete, and probably suspect] interpretation of this spec is that it measures the surface temperature of the chip. Where exactly? I don't know (i.e., In the center on top of the epoxy? On top of any other encasement?).

What I do know, is that many intermediate users use Tcase as the upper-limit of what their chips should endure day-after-day. Tcase temperatures are not über-high, though. Don't get me wrong; they're high temps, but significantly below TJmax, and you may very well exceed them while folding over time if you run your computer 24/7, depending on the computer's case design (e.g., desktop, all-in-one, etc.) To solve this temperature quandary, it's helpful to Search other forums that are out there on the web, and which are run by chip enthusiasts [often gamers] to get the low-down on your chip. For my i7, gamers run their core CPU temperates up to the 176°F-185°F (80°-85°C) range without concern. I've taken that advice to heart.

On to the procedural...

6) As member Zagen30 asks above "...[am] I sure [I] can't finish a WU before the deadline?..." It was an important question to ask. It turns out that I wasn't sure. Most of what I was expressing in my initial post was anticipatory anxiety. I thought it wouldn't work, but I hadn't stress-tested the idea. With the help of the above-mentioned apps and utilities I was able to ease my fears while cranking out the all-important WUs.

7) Hardware Monitor tells me what the Core Temps are for each of my 8 Cores. I can set an alarm for each Core so that my computer tells me when I've hit my user-defined red zone.

8) smcFanControl lets me tailor a saved setting that controls my CPU Fan speed for optimal cooling. That is, I set it so that my cores don't exceed 185°F (85°C). Be cautious and judicious with your smcFanControl settings, though. It's easy to set them too high. Your fans don't need to blast away at full RPMs, and in fact, this can lead to their early demise, and it certainly will use more electricity. Experiment a little. Run different smcFanControl settings while watching the Hardware Monitor Core Temp specs that adjust in real-time, and adjust the fan settings that way. You'll need to sit in front of your computer while it's folding and play with it, but it's kind of fun.

After I've Quit my computer, smcFanControl turns off, so that when I next log on, and if I'm not folding and just answering email, I'm using Apple's optimized fan settings. You have to turn smcFanControl on when you want to use it. This is a good thing. It keeps you from running your fans into the ground.

In addition, I don't want to speed up my Hard Drive Fan or my Optical Drive Fan (on an iMac). These don't do much to cool the Cores, and the Apple spec does just fine for these. You can safely leave those setting alone in smcFanControl, unless you know for sure you want to adjust them, and my recommendation is to just go an extra 10% or so, max.

9) This part is just stating the obvious: I run my computer on a schedule so that--in my case--it works on folding on the weekend when I can watch it every 4 hours or so. It does nothing--more or less--on weekdays. If I do fire up the computer on a weekday night, I'll fold a little and then stop. This is where InCrease helps. It tells me if I'm going to make my deadline. That's the all important part to me. If I'm running behind I'll fold for 8 hours that night with my smcFanControl working. When I wake up, I turn the computer off.

So there it is. A little wordy, and I apologize for that. I just didn't think I could do the topic justice by posting the Cliff Notes version. And there's nothing earth-shaking or extremely brilliant about any of it, just a few tips to help the lightly-used-computer folder.
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