CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

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CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby jwyount » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:54 pm

Well, I've been waiting for the Ivy Bridge i7-3770 processors to rebuild my desktop as a power-efficient, always-on folding rig... and now I learn that -bigadv will only accept 16 core CPUs!

Fair enough, but now all my research months ago is out-of-date and I'm here again to ask for input on my new machine.

I'm definitely an advanced user, but not nearly hardcore enough to read many posts of the Most Powerful Folders sticky without wanting to claw my eyes out.

My desktop will be on 24/7 mainly because it will be receiving CrashPlan backups constantly from a dozen or so computers. I want to run FAH at the same time so I'm getting the most use out of the electricity I'm using. I'm willing to pay extra to make it an excellent folding machine as a donation to science but I'm not concerned about bragging rights.

If a few of you are willing to guide me, I'll put in the extra cash to make this new machine more useful to FAH.

DRIVE: The only thing that matters from my current machine is that I have a SSD, Crucial M4-c128m4ssd2. I assume that's worth keeping. I'll also be running about six 2TB drives for data storage, but that won't affect the folding.

CASE: My Thermaltake Xaser III should be fine unless y'all somehow talk me into liquid cooling or modern GPUs.

GPU: I'm currently satisfied with my middle-aged motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3*. It treats me just fine with L4D2, Fallout 3 and the like. If you talk me into GPU-based folding that would obviously need to change.

RAM: I'll buy however much helps with the folding, with appropriate specs. Back in November that seemed to be 4gigs of mid-grade ram.


So I see three options...
1) Get an Ivy Bridge i7 3770 with appropriate motherboard and do CPU-based folding. That's what I had been heading for.

2) Get a more modest CPU (Sandy Bridge i5?) and invest instead in GPU-based folding. I'd do this only if I'd be producing more PPD/watt.

3) Build a 16-core monster or better and do CPU folding. Here too I'd want to produce more PPD/watt and hopefully more PPD/cost as well.

I'd likely keep the same hardware for 5 years or so, so I'd be interested in best guesses as to how long a proposed high-end machine (option 3) would continue to be eligible for -bigadv. But it's not like being demoted to regular units is the end of the world: it would still crank out a lot of PPD.

Anyone care to point me in the best direction for this research investment?
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby Jesse_V » Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:15 pm

Here are some of my thoughts, though I know very little about PPD/watt, but I did some poking around on Google.
1) You'll probably get more PPD using CPU folding. The SMP is not only good at using all CPU cores, but does an excellent job at backing down for other applications, which I presume would include your backup service. Since the SMP gets bonus points and so far GPUs do not, it looks like you may get more PPD/watt there.
2) I know Dr. Pande has been focusing of late on the usability of F@h, but he's also very interested in folding on GPUs. Running scientific calculations on many different GPUs isn't as easy as CPU folding so if you join that platform that would be fantastic. We were the first to do distributed computing using GPUs, and they do some really great science. They are also really good at increasing F@h's FLOPS count, which makes us look good overall since some people seem to use that as a measure of productivity. Unfortunately, from what I saw on Google they may not beat CPUs in terms of PPD/watt.
3) Bigadv is experimental and subject to much more change than regular folding. Of course, bigadv work is so difficult that it can't be done anywhere else on F@h and normally requires supercomputing clusters and the like, but I'd speculate that regular folding is better in terms of PPD/watt and PPD/cost. I don't know of any numbers though, so that's a guess.

Based on your criteria, CPU folding may be the way to go here. I'm sure there are others on this forum that know the numbers, but I did find threads like this: http://forum.overclock3d.net/index.php? ... lding-rig/
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby Nathan_P » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:28 pm

Ivy should get around ~22-28k depending on WU, should you choose that route.

GPU's, should you choose this route yyour best PPD/w are the 460 and 560ti

Overclocked opteron quad 61xx chips can get nearly 1000PPD/w, for a set up cost of ~$3000. Such a rig will last a long time on -bigadv (unless they get really mad with the core counts). You can start off cheapish with 8 core cpu's and add as you go

Dual hex LGA 1366 xeon's are no longer worth the investment for -bigadv, unless you can lay your hands on an SR-2. Sandy bridge xeon is only good for current -bigadv, i suspect that nex time the deadlines change these will no longer be eligible either.

Edit:- Just found this as an example:- "I have a H8QGL-iF+, the cheapest 4P model out there, and I have the 6166HE's. Now I'm folding at 253, zero ht-retries since morning. I bumped the voltage up to 1.0375. Temps as reported by TPC are 47-52. Power draw reported by the UPS is round 650W. Average TPF on 6903 is 13:38."

The PPD/W works out to be 810
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby iceman1992 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:50 pm

For GPU efficiency, you might want to check out this article http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphi ... -folding/4
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby jwyount » Tue May 01, 2012 4:18 am

Thanks for your quick feedback!

1) A single CPU folder looks like where I'll most likely end up. Am I right that the new i7-3770 is about as good as it gets in that category? And drastically better for folding than the classic i5-2500k?

2) Based on your feedback, consistent with what I learned in November, I'll eliminate GPU folding. I'll keep my current modest GPU for gaming only and upgrade it when it's no longer satisfactory for that.

3) Multi-CPU machines are virtually unknown to me.

I'm potentially interested but unlikely to go that way. Among other things, it'd be a much harder sell to my wife in the $3000 price range (is that typical for a machine with years of bigadv-16 potential?). But if they are indeed dramatically better in PPD/watt (about 4 or 5 times as efficient?) than single CPU systems and will still handle Windows 7, CrashPlan data storage and my games then I'd like to lean more about them and would appreciate links to learn the basics fast.

I should add I'm also hesitant to get a machine where I need to invest significant time monitoring, tweaking, and adjusting it to get respectably close to its full potential. If this would be like a thoroughbred horse or race care that needed constant pampering then I'm not interested. But if the benefits of microscopic tinkering are comparable to single-CPU systems I'd be ok treating it as a set-it-and-forget-it system.

Thanks again.
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby Jesse_V » Tue May 01, 2012 4:41 am

I think the i7-3770 should be fine. You can see for yourself that its specs are much better than the i5-2500K: http://ark.intel.com/compare/65719,52210 Just make sure your motherboard has the correct CPU socket and all that. At least for me, SMP folding has largely been set-and-forget, especially with V7's ease of use. It's unfortunate that you're entirely eliminating GPU folding, but if you're concentrating on PPD/watt and the like I guess that's what you have to do.
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby iceman1992 » Tue May 01, 2012 4:45 am

jwyount wrote:1) A single CPU folder looks like where I'll most likely end up. Am I right that the new i7-3770 is about as good as it gets in that category? And drastically better for folding than the classic i5-2500k?

2) Based on your feedback, consistent with what I learned in November, I'll eliminate GPU folding. I'll keep my current modest GPU for gaming only and upgrade it when it's no longer satisfactory for that.

3) Multi-CPU machines are virtually unknown to me.

I'm potentially interested but unlikely to go that way. Among other things, it'd be a much harder sell to my wife in the $3000 price range (is that typical for a machine with years of bigadv-16 potential?). But if they are indeed dramatically better in PPD/watt (about 4 or 5 times as efficient?) than single CPU systems and will still handle Windows 7, CrashPlan data storage and my games then I'd like to lean more about them and would appreciate links to learn the basics fast.
1) As far as I know the i7-3770 offers modest improvements over the i7-2600K (5-10%). And the 2600K can be overclocked quite a bit higher. And you need the K series to overclock, so you might want to get the i7-3770K. But if you're not going to overclock then most likely the i7-3770 is the best option here. The i5 is no slouch though :wink:

2) It'll be great if you do run GPU folding, because it contributes a lot of processing power to the project. GPUs account for the highest FLOPS count. But if you're really only looking for PPD/watt then yes, GPU folding is not that efficient because bonus points are not awarded for GPU WUs (personally I think it's a bit unfair)

3) I don't know much about multi-CPU machines to give info on this.
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby ChasR » Tue May 01, 2012 11:51 am

Approximate power cost (@.12/KWH) per 1,000,000 points

i7 2600K @ 4.6 GHz (3770K should be a little lower) $21
GTX580 $36
4P 6174 $5

So the real answer to the question is a BA rig.

Then take into account the approximate days folding 24/7 to 1,000,000 points:
i7 2600K 30 days
GTX580 50 days
4P 6174 2.5 days

If you do the ppd/$ on your dream configuration, the 4P still wins handily.
There are a lot of factors that affect these numbers, OS, WU, PS efficiency, etc..... They are approximate and intended to give a rough estimate of the diffference in efficiency.
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby jwyount » Tue May 01, 2012 6:29 pm

Those are very useful numbers for comparison and I'm interested, but remember I'm pretty ignorant on multi-CPU machines.

Ok, terminology.
"BA rig" = very powerful computer?
"4p 6174" = AMD Opteron 6174 CPU? And that's for multi-CPU servers?

Can you point me to a novice's guide to learn more about such super-efficient folding computers?
* Cost range?
* OS options?
* Good for Windows gaming also?
* Questions I don't know to ask?

Thanks
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby ChasR » Tue May 01, 2012 6:49 pm

BA = bigadv
4P = 4 processor sockets all occupied in my #s
6174 = Opteron 6174 processor

Cost using used cpus $3400 to $4000
OS options Linux
Not good for much except Folding. You could do anything that a Linux rig will do.
THere are a number of team websites with very good information on MP folding machines.
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby Nathan_P » Tue May 01, 2012 8:52 pm

jwyount wrote:Those are very useful numbers for comparison and I'm interested, but remember I'm pretty ignorant on multi-CPU machines.

Ok, terminology.
"BA rig" = very powerful computer?
"4p 6174" = AMD Opteron 6174 CPU? And that's for multi-CPU servers?

Can you point me to a novice's guide to learn more about such super-efficient folding computers?
* Cost range?
* OS options?
* Good for Windows gaming also?
* Questions I don't know to ask?

Thanks


Try either http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1652906 or http://www.overclockers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=697924, Either of these threads will have all the info you could ever want on 4p folding
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby jwyount » Wed May 02, 2012 4:16 am

Thanks, I'm now feeling about ready to make a reasonably informed decision on my rebuild.

I need a Windows 7 desktop running 24/7 for my backup service and my games. This seems to eliminate the bigadv, multiple CPU option. Of course if I get the bug I can always build a separate bigadv 4p machine. One of those links had a build well under $2,000.

For now I won't upgrade my GPU. When I eventually do upgrade for gaming purposes I will first look here to make sure that it's also excellent for folding. And perhaps, because of the benefit to FAH, I won't wait as long as I otherwise might. Obviously I'll be getting a motherboard that can handle at least a two GPU solution as a future upgrade.

So this will be a Windows 7, CPU folder. I've heard no challenge to my impression that the i7-3770 processors are either the best choice for such machines or close enough. They come in 45watt, 56watt and 77watt versions and I gather that for folding, including PPD/watt, I should get the i7-3770k 77watt version.

It is my understanding that for PPD/watt and pure PPD I'd want to overclock the system, at least modestly. I've never overclocked before.

For maximum PPD, would I want to also fold on my middle-aged ATI Sapphire Radeon HD4870 1GB DDR5 or would I be better off letting the CPU concentrate only on folding instead of having 1 core manage the GPU? I vaguely recall being told in November to leave my old GPU out of it, but that may have been wrong and regardless the folding client has improved.

I would appreciate further tips on refining this build and corrections to any false assumptions I've made.

Sample folding builds of this type would be nice.

My next step is to look into motherboards. (Plenty of USB3.0 and an ability to handle 10 or more SATA drives are my first criteria to narrow things down.)

After that it's RAM, cooling and checking if my power supply can handle the load.
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby Leonardo » Wed May 02, 2012 5:00 am

If you need a Windows environment, then a good balance of cost/performance/power usage would be a 2-socket AMD Opteron system with (used) Magny Cours, 61XX series CPUs. Such a system will run very well with regular desktop RAM with Windows 7 Professional. Installing Windows on a 2P system is just as easy as on a mulit-core single-socket system. Tyan and Asus both make good 2P AMD boards. Note: most 2P systems do not have a high enough CPU core count to qualify to receive the latest high performance "bigadv" (big advanced) work units; neither do any single-CPU systems.

Single Core: go with 3770K or 2600K; get whatever RAM you need for your projected usage, Folding has no extraordinary memory requirements. If you don't want to overclock, that's understandable, but don't expect stellar performance from any single-CPU Folder at stock clocks.

Dual Xeon: To reach performance parity with an Opteron 4P system, you need a bucketful of cash. No way around it. They will handily best a dual-CPU AMD system, but at multiples of the acquisition cost.

Multi-CPU machines are virtually unknown to me.
I built my first multi-socket machine last October, which was an Opteron 6128 system. Hardware installation was only more complicated in that there were more pieces. Installing the OS, Win7 Pro, was just as easy as installing on an Intel 2600K system. I subsequently switched the machine over to Linux, which was no more difficult than installing Linux on a single, multi-core CPU system. Building a 4P Opteron system wasn't much more difficult than an AMD 2P.

I should add I'm also hesitant to get a machine where I need to invest significant time monitoring, tweaking, and adjusting it to get respectably close to its full potential. If this would be like a thoroughbred horse or race care that needed constant pampering then I'm not interested. But if the benefits of microscopic tinkering are comparable to single-CPU systems I'd be ok treating it as a set-it-and-forget-it system.
I am not a Linux evangelist by any means. My "daily driver," all-purpose machine at home is Windows 7. But with that said, once set up, an Ubuntu Linux Folding box is about as reliable and care free as it gets! There are a number of excellent, paint by the numbers Ubuntu Folding guides online. Consider giving it a try some day. I put it off for years and finally took the plunge. Ahhhh! 8-)
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby jwyount » Wed May 02, 2012 6:41 am

Thanks Leonardo.

I should have been more clear: I have no experience with server-level systems. I'm not intimidated at all by a regular 2-socket PC that would run Windows or Linux.

BTW, while I did say I've never overclocked in the past, I *do* expect I'll overclock on this machine if I confirm it's worth it in PPD/watt.

Got some stats or a comparison link that would help me decide between a i7-3770 and a 2-socket AMD Opteron system? PPD, PPD/watt, and up-front cost. You imply that the 2-socket AMD Opteron system would outperform the i7-3770 but I'd like to see stats.

I read a lot about the Intel i-series over the last year but nothing on the AMD competition.
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Re: CPU, GPU, or -bigadv rig for PPD efficiency?

Postby Leonardo » Wed May 02, 2012 8:13 am

In single socket, there is no AMD competition to the 2600K or 3770K. It's late and I don't have any links. Just do some Google searches and you should come up with some Folding statistics with respect to 2600K, 3770K, and 2P AMD Opteron. I have seen some very impressive scores with I7-3xxx, but those were in highly optimized Ubuntu setups.

should have been more clear: I have no experience with server-level systems
Although a Folding 4P rig, and to some extent a Folding 2P rig by hardware standards is a server, it's typically not configured (software) or operated as server. It's a beefy workstation in server clothing.
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