Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

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Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby John Naylor » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:10 pm

Common reasons people give for not installing F@H, and the counterarguments...

Will F@H reduce the security of my computer?
The Folding@home client and distributed computing system is no less safe than other programs that you can download from the internet and run on your computer. Because security of the F@H client is very important to the Pande Group, they have designed the F@H system to be as secure as feasible through encrypted downloads/uploads, file checksums, etc. F@H should not reduce the security of your computer. But, to ensure maximum security of your computer, never download a client or purported client update from anywhere other than the official download page.

Can’t they just use a Supercomputer? /They already have 400,000 processors, how is my one processor going to make any difference?
F@H is more than three times as powerful as the world’s current most powerful supercomputer, in terms of operations per second, so using a supercomputer would be a massive step backwards for the project. Even with that in mind, the project is still restricted by the power available to it and needs all the extra silicon it can get.

Won't this stop me using my computer?
F@H is designed to give priority to any process other than itself, so if you use your computer it will back off to allow the programs you run to have all the power they need. This applies to the CPU and SMP clients, but GPUs do not have this functionality so it is recommended that GPU clients are paused if a GPU-heavy program is to be used.

I’m worried about the environment, won’t running this program increase greenhouse gas emissions?/ Won’t running my computer at full or near full usage all the time make my electricity bill skyrocket?
F@H needs only to be run when your computer is running. From the folding@home website here the average computer uses 100W a day if heavily loaded, which works out at about $10/month (using a value of $0.15/kWh) if the computer is run flat out 24/7. If you factor in the time that you would be using that machine anyway, the cost is going to be much lower. As for the PS3, thus uses about 200W (using the original power supply) and about 115W on the newer power supplies in the 40/80gig models. The Slim model further reduces power consumption to around 80W. That is between $8 and $20 a month again assuming the machine folds 24/7 and $0.15/kWh.
Cheers to Tarx:There is also the fact that treating all the diseases which this project can and probably will help find cures for, has a significant environmental cost (i.e. to power all the necessary machinery), and also a significant financial cost should you become a victim of the diseases. The comparatively small extra outlay for running F@H is peanuts compared to the cost of treating these diseases.

Won’t running my computer at full usage/100% all the time damage it?
Modern computer chips are precision instruments, they are designed to be able to operate continuously at full speed without degrading. A typical example of this would be the humble web server. These serve thousands, maybe tens of thousands of connections a minute and are fully loaded for long periods at a time, yet hardly ever fail due to hardware faults. For the more technically minded, it is usually a good idea to clean out any heatsinks though (this applies to both desktops and laptops).
Good point by kikimarie:You may wish to install a temperature program and watch the temperatures if you are using a laptop to run F@H. Well designed laptops should stay within their defined operating temperatures but will almost certainly get noisy, and the temperature monitor program should ensure peace of mind about the noise. However if your laptop cannot cope with the extra heat then the monitoring program will alert you to its' overheating and the need to buy a cooling pad or similar device, to enable continued running of F@H.

This is pointless; you can’t solve something like this without lab work!
This is correct, however Folding@Home uses independently tested and proven techniques to advance and work alongside the work done in laboratories across the planet.

F@H is irrelevant now due to [Corporation X]’s research. Why bother?
As long as we lack complete knowledge about how and why proteins misfold, the work of the Folding@Home project will remain relevant. Maybe the project will render itself irrelevant by solving these problems, we don’t know. But for the foreseeable future, the project will not be rendered irrelevant by the research of any one company or group of companies.

How can I be sure that my resources, "loaned" for free, will not be used to generate research that will then be sold for profits, e.g. like United Devices?
Folding@Home is a project run by Stanford University, and they release all of their findings into the world free of charge, in the form of peer reviewed papers. See here for more. Anyone in the world can then use the results to further their own research without the need to redo these computationally intensive simulations.

I have an internet usage cap, using F@H will use more than I am allowed, will it not?
Put simply, no. The uniprocessor clients use up to 10MB each way at their normal settings (assuming use of v6 clients), but most computers if run just during the day will only finish a Work Unit every 2 or 3 days. Over a 30 day period that is an absolute maximum of 300MB (if a WU is completed every 2 days, so 15 WUs at 10MB each way), or well within any usage cap. Most Work Units are far smaller than that limit anyway, and the v5 and v6 clients can be set to limit Work Unit downloads to 5MB each way.
WARNING: Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the GPU clients if run on higher-end GPUs - if run for ten hours a day internet usage can be as high as 30MB... which over a thirty day period is 900MB. Please consider this if you have a high- or top-end GPU and want to run the client, but have a bandwidth cap.

The Project has been running since 2000, but I don't see any cures. Why not?
For this, a note from the director of the project:
VijayPande wrote:In terms of big picture highlights, we spent the first 5-6 years working out how to use distributed computing to efficiently tackle protein folding and then applying it to do the first simulations of protein folding reaching the folded state with experimental validation, etc. This was one of our primary goals laid out in the Science section and we're excited to have accomplished that. Part of our work today involves continuing in that direction with more complex systems, continuing to push the state of the art.

The other part of our work is to apply these methods to study disease, especially Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Huntington's Disease (HD). We are interested in understanding what's going on in these diseases to facilitate a cure. Indeed, our motto in big letters on our web page is "Our goal: to understand protein folding, misfolding, and related diseases," and we are on track for that. One could ask "how do you know if you understand the disease?" A good answer is new small molecule drugs which appear to prevent or minimize the effects of the disease. This too is in the works, with encouraging results in the lab (but it's not time to talk about this publicly until it passes peer review).

However, it takes a long time (often as much as 2-3 years) from the point where we have something interesting in the lab to where we are talking about the results publicly (it has to be validated by ourselves and go through peer review). Our first results on AD and HD will hopefully be coming out soon, i.e. in the next 6 to 12 months or so.

Finally as for a cure -- a cure takes a while to test and develop. First, one has to understand what's going on and that's where basic science comes in and most of what FAH does. However, we and others are excited to take the published results from FAH and apply them to real world problems such as AD and HD and our expectation is that our work could give some critical insights into these diseases, thereby helping to accelerate a cure.


Please feel free to tell me where I have gone wrong or the answers could be improved... or indeed copy this elsewhere (on or off this forum) if you feel the need... just please attribute it back to me/this forum if you copy it onto another forum :)
Any more reasons, type them up and I/we will try and counter them here :P

Edit: I edited the title to make it obvious that this isn't a list of reasons not to run FAH -UF
Last edited by John Naylor on Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:29 pm, edited 20 times in total.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby smASHer88 » Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:40 pm

very well done John.. good work.

my recruiting efforts will now be that bit easier!

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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby Tarx » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:26 am

With regards to environmental cost, I had noted in the past a few items:
- in winter, the cost is minimal as the energy used turns into heat.
- the environmental cost (let alone other costs like the societal costs and financial burden) of these diseases is significant
- can always trade cost (e.g. car pool 1 day a month) to offset the difference
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby bruce » Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:48 am

Tarx wrote:- in winter, the cost is minimal as the energy used turns into heat.


Actually, the costs associated with this energy can be either good or bad. If you're cold and you want the heat, it's a good thing. If you live in a climate where Air Conditioning is used all or part of the year, you end up paying for it twice -- once when the computer generates the heat and again when the A/C pumps it out of the room.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby alancabler » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:02 pm

Thanks John Naylor, for your excellent post!
I’m worried about the environment, won’t running this program increase greenhouse gas emissions?/ Won’t running my computer at full or near full usage all the time make my bill skyrocket?
F@H needs only to be run when your computer is running. The average system uses maybe 70W at idle, and 120W fully loaded (i.e. when CPU folding - either uniprocessor or SMP). An extra 50W will not have a significant impact on either the environment or your electricity bill. [Of course, Overclocked, or GPU machines will have a much greater disparity between idle and load, but if you overclock your machine something tells me this question will not bother you so much :) ]
Cheers to Ren02 for approx. power figures 8-)
Cheers to Tarx:
I just had some more fun with numbers and figured out that the sum total of CO2 emissions load of the Folding@home project is ~ 5x10-6 % (5 millionths of 1 percent**) of the annual worldwide total man- made CO2 output.
Roughly, f@h electricity usage would produce about 139,000 metric tons of CO2/year- which is slightly more than the estimated yearly CO2 output of the nation of Chad, and less than the output of the nation of Samoa.

** This figure represents about 6x10-9 % (6 billionths of 1 percent ) of the worldwide total of all greenhouse gas emissions from all sources.

Ps This winter's ice storms in Oklahoma caused the destruction and removal of ~ 70 million tons of broken trees- most of which was sent to landfills- thereby "sequestering" enough carbon to run f@h "carbon - free" for over 500 years.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby 7im » Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:17 pm

alancabler wrote:...

Ps This winter's ice storms in Oklahoma caused the destruction and removal of ~ 70 million tons of broken trees- most of which was sent to landfills- thereby "sequestering" enough carbon to run f@h "carbon - free" for over 500 years.


Minus the CO2 to O2 the missing trees won't actively convert any more. Let's call it 499 years. ;)
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby Cajun_Don » Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:49 am

7im wrote:
alancabler wrote:...

Ps This winter's ice storms in Oklahoma caused the destruction and removal of ~ 70 million tons of broken trees- most of which was sent to landfills- thereby "sequestering" enough carbon to run f@h "carbon - free" for over 500 years.


Minus the CO2 to O2 the missing trees won't actively convert any more. Let's call it 499 years. ;)


Many family generations will occur by this time, and we or future generations will still not know the answer about global warming or global freezing. Weather conditions were in constant changes for millions of years, without humans living on this planet. It will continue to do so, without us really knowing, if we cause more destruction or not to our environment.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby Akuma16 » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:40 am

I actively recruit my friends and family to donate their computer's idle time to Folding@Home, but I must disagree slightly with the answer to the question regarding damage to computer components: I have had a Dell laptop and my father's Dell desktop have their disk drives fail catastrophically due to overheating. Both systems are powered by notoriously hot CPUs (Prescott Pentium 4 in the desktop and Pentium 4 - M in the laptop.)

I consider these systems to have poorly designed thermal management, and consider them to be exceptions to the rule (I run all my other CPUs at 100%), but I monitor my friends' and families' systems very carefully before I let them go to full throttle.

As a humorous aside, Colorado's Eastern slope has had a very cold winter. So to extract maximum performance from my repaired laptop, I've put it in a window open to the 15-32 degrees F air. :wink:
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby John Naylor » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:57 am

It's a fair point about the hard drives but the comment I made was that modern computer Chips were precision instruments and therefore designed to work constantly at 100%. As you implied that the chips still work I would say that the point still stands. :)

There is also your excellent point about poor thermal design... computers should not be sold if the case cannot handle the heat output from the CPU, Northbridge, GPU, HDD etc, but although the computer's thermal design is poor the chips themselves almost always continue to work, even if the magnetic disks in the hard drives do not :)

As an aside... I have one of the new Inspiron desktops and it has no cooling issues at all, despite the addition of firewire and 802.11b/g wireless PCI cards, and two extra hard drives, one of which resides out of the case's airflow in a CD bay. Apparently Dell have sorted the overheating issues (says he hopefully :P )
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby Akuma16 » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:29 am

I agree completely with your response. The shocking fact with the drive failures is that in both cases the drives were too hot to touch for more than a few seconds after the failures were detected. And F@H is not disk intensive in systems with a reasonable amount of RAM.

Also, in defense of Dell, my XPS doesn't break a sweat running 2 F@H instances at 100%. Core 2 rocks.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby polycarbonate1 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:21 am

My iBook cpu temp frequently exceeds 65ºC. This does not affect performance, but does get uncomfortable when using on my lap. I have searched in vain for a way to spin the fans at lower temps. As soon as I turn 18, I'll be able to join the Apple Developer Connection, download the open-source code for the fan driver, and get something happening. Probably "FridgeBook" or FriBook"; something like that. Shortly after midnight on Friday (Saturday), I recorded 70.25ºC. The thing sounded like a server rack. Although supposedly able to operate up to 100ºC, I would suggest not letting any part of your computer exceed 70ºC, otherwise damage can be caused. I reckon my casing would melt before 100ºC anyway.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby polycarbonate1 » Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:53 am

I have been circulating the following internally. I should probably print some and put them up around the place. It should give you a pretty good idea of my views on the matter. If anyone has any ideas for an advertising campaign, could they please let me know.
--------------------------------------------
Save the world one FLOP at a time
How would you like to help find cures for cancer and other diseases? One man can make a difference.

For some years now, Stanford University has been conducting large-scale research in the field of molecular biology. They have a large network of processors around the world networked for distributed computing. These processors run complex calculations vital to the research. Many of you may be familiar with the network, called Folding@Home. Please donate your spare CPU time to the cluster. You don't have to interrupt any work, just help when you're not using your computer. To find out more, visit http://folding.stanford.edu If you know a few friends who can help out, let them know too. If you can get enough processors for a team, let me know.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby kikimarie » Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:05 pm

John Naylor wrote:Common reasons people give for not installing F@H, and the counterarguments...

Won’t running my computer at full usage all the time damage it?
Modern computer chips are precision instruments, they are designed to be able to operate continuously at full speed without degrading. A typical example of this would be the humble web server. These serve thousands, maybe tens of thousands of connections a minute and are fully loaded for long periods at a time, yet hardly ever fail due to hardware


Perhaps you could address people using laptops and the need for some sort of "chill pad" or cooling device. Otherwise overheating WILL be a problem for those machines. Fortunately someone on this forum turned me on to this fact shortly after I began folding. Otherwise my computer might have burned out long ago.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby John Naylor » Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:06 pm

kikimarie wrote:
John Naylor wrote:Common reasons people give for not installing F@H, and the counterarguments...

Won’t running my computer at full usage all the time damage it?
Modern computer chips are precision instruments, they are designed to be able to operate continuously at full speed without degrading. A typical example of this would be the humble web server. These serve thousands, maybe tens of thousands of connections a minute and are fully loaded for long periods at a time, yet hardly ever fail due to hardware


Perhaps you could address people using laptops and the need for some sort of "chill pad" or cooling device. Otherwise overheating WILL be a problem for those machines. Fortunately someone on this forum turned me on to this fact shortly after I began folding. Otherwise my computer might have burned out long ago.


Good point, I've edited the post. However it is not a need for all laptops - I have a friend whose Sony VAIO laptop runs F@H (while sat on a desk) whenever it is connected to the mains - the laptop never overheats despite F@H using the full 100% of both processors (it's a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo) available to it. It's about 8 months old and averages 11 hours of F@H a day, with no problems (except fan noise) so far.
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Re: Answers to: Reasons for not using F@H.

Postby polycarbonate1 » Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:42 pm

Yeah, my machine averages about 18h a day, whether it's on mains or not. Of course battery life is shorter, but the fans don't worry me (just the people trying to sleep next to me :-) )
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