Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

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Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

Postby Julian_Warr » Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:47 pm

Hi,

I've been contributing to folding@home for about 8 years on a variety of computers but have always just adopted a 'set and forget' mentality.

I'm currently running it on a 2.26Ghz 8-core Mac Pro with 16Gb RAM.

I'm looking for some advice on optimising the performance of f@h on this machine. I've just discovered passkeys and have now set one up.

I'm currently using 4-clients and am managing them using Increase. Should I be using 4 clients or just one? The reason I ask is that when I stop three of the four clients the kernel CPU time drops from about 20% of total time down to near zero - that's 20% across all 8 cores BTW. I'm assuming that this 20% is some sort of overhead which is incurred by running four processes rather than one for f@h.

Also, I'm currently using a version of f@h from Jan 2010 - is it worth upgrading and if so how should I approach this? The command-line switches I'm currently using are: -local -advmethods - forceasm -verbosity 9. Are these all OK?

Lastly any other hints and tips would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Julian.
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Re: Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

Postby Joe_H » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:30 pm

Welcome to the forum.

First, you should be running a single SMP client on your Mac Pro instead of four and with the SMP count set to 8(16 if your processors have HT). If you need to reserve some CPU for doing other work, then you can reduce the SMP number to a lower even number such as 6.

For the rest of your questions more information is needed. For instance, what is the version of OS X on your Mac Pro? If you could check the version of the folding client as well, that would be useful to know. I suspect it is 6.29r3 but can't determine that from the Jan 2010 date. The command line switches look fine.

There is a V7 beta available for OS X. It does open up the possibility of processing other types of WU's than you have been getting. Whether I could recommend going to it depends on which version of OS X you are running. It is relatively stable on 10.6, not available for 10.4 or 10.5 at all yet and has some major bugs under 10.7.
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iMac 2.8 i7 12 GB smp8, Mac Pro 2.8 quad 12 GB smp6
MacBook Pro 2.9 i7 8 GB smp3
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Re: Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

Postby Julian_Warr » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:38 pm

Thanks for the prompt reply Joe!

So, it looks like I should be running a single process rather than four.

I'm running OS X 10.7.4 - so it looks like the V7 beta is not appropriate for me

Looks like I'm running the 6.29r1 client - is this worth an upgrade to a later version of 6.x? How should I approach this - a clean install?

Best Regards,

Julian.
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Re: Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

Postby Joe_H » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:24 pm

Since you are running the client from a command line, I don't think it makes a difference between 6.29r1 and r3. As best as I can tell the fah6 executable is the same between these two versions. The 6.29r3 download has a later version of the control panel that is needed for later versions of the OS.

If you do decide to upgrade, I don't think it matters if you installed 6.29r1 in the default locations whether you uninstall it first. But I do not use Increase, so don't know how that effects things. It might be safest to uninstall and then upgrade in that case. As for the four processes you were using, I would disable all but one and have it complete its WU and not get another. Then enable each of the others one at a time until you just have one process with work left.

The high kernel activity was related as you guessed to having four processes going at once. By default the V6 SMP client will use all cores available and schedule threads on each of them. So with 4 going at once, you were having 32 active threads being scheduled to process all of the time.
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Re: Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

Postby bruce » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:41 pm

What Joe has said is exactly what should be done. Let me describe the same thing in slightly different words:

By default, a single copy of the SMP client will use all of the processing resources on a single machine. By running multiple copies of that client, you're forcing each CPU to divide it's attention between multiple threads of different processes and there are no more resources that are available. Thus you've lowered total production by adding the overhead of forcing the kernel to switch between tasks without having additional CPU resources that might be used by those other tasks.
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Re: Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

Postby Julian_Warr » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:06 am

Excellent, thanks for your help guys!
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Re: Optimising an 8-core Mac Pro

Postby TomJohnson » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:57 am

Best gauge for optimizing performance is to look at InCreases PPD, I am getting 14,000 PPD using V6.29r1/V2.22. I have a 3.2 GHz Dual Quad Mac Pro with 16 GB RAM running 10.6.8.
iMac 15,1 27" 5K Retina Intel i7 4.0 GHz Dual Quad 24 GB RAM 1 TB Fusion OS 10.10
Mac Pro 5,1 3.06 GHz 12 Core 52 Gig RAM OS 10.9.5 -- Plus 20 more
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