Most efficient folding farm?

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Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:20 pm

After seeing such creations like the Microwulf, what would be the best way to build an efficient folding farm solely for folding?

The goal for this farm would be efficiency. The overall price would be cheap, the power required would be low, and there would be potential to expand. I've listed a few questions I have thought up over the past week or two:

(I haven't listed a budget because I don't know where the sweet spot would be initially)

Would a large number of cheap dual core processors (E2180's) be better or a few Q6600's?
Would overclocking increase returns greatly at the cost of more power?
Could you get by with a certain RAM capacity without a large hit in performance? (1GB vs 2GB)
Would it be more efficient to run more CPU's with integrated graphics or less CPU's with the addition of low-mid range video cards?
Could I do without certain components? (any hard drives)

I was thinking that this would be a good summer project if the price is low enough and the power requirements don't add $50 a month to the electric bill.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:32 pm

themattman wrote:I was thinking that this would be a good summer project if the price is low enough and the power requirements don't add $50 a month to the electric bill.

assume 10 cents per kwh. $50/month works out to 500 kwh/month. There are about 730 hours in a month. So that leaves around 685w to use. http://techreport.com/articles.x/14573/15 has some power consumption numbers to consider, although under a different load. You're not going to get a "large number" of anything at your price point, though.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:36 am

Cache size is fairly significant, as trying to fold well on my athlon 64 showed


I'd say integrated graphics with cheap quad cores. Maybe a rack of Phenom 9500s or similar, hitting all the applicable threads

Skip the hard drives, use a USB key.


I'd say a GB of ram per system is probably more than enough if you're USBLin folding

And just overclock up until you need the voltage jump. I would say that OCing isn't really too bad on consumption unless you need to expend more on cooling
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:10 am

Playing with this idea I put together some parts to see what the price point would be:

Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L - $64.99
Rosewill 350W Power Supply - $22.99
Intel Q6600 - $209.99
Kingston 1GB RAM - $20.99
Kingston 1GB Flash Drive - $6.99

This all comes out to around $325, which means for a price point of $1,000 I could buy three of these and I should be within the $50 a month energy limit.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:27 am

The numbers of files and folders are increasing as well, I suspect it is going in to a loop in the /proc directory.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:47 am

notfred wrote:The numbers of files and folders are increasing as well, I suspect it is going in to a loop in the /proc directory.

I suspect this was made in the wrong thread?
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:57 am

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
notfred wrote:The numbers of files and folders are increasing as well, I suspect it is going in to a loop in the /proc directory.

I suspect this was made in the wrong thread?


I think it was meant to be in this thread:

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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:18 am

I think going with the newer quadcores is the right path. The smaller die size , higher frontside bus speed and lower power consumption are all desirable attributes for dedicated folding nodes. Using MBs with integrated graphics makes sense because that makes it easier to stack and cool the nodes.

Notfred has a tutorial for setting up a linux or windows PC to be a folding server so you could go that way also. Having one hard drive for backups, plus being able to monitor all your folding nodes from once PC is convenient - don't need a KVM switch.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2008 11:37 am

Yes, sorry about that.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:07 pm

themattman wrote: ~ Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L - $64.99
Rosewill 350W Power Supply - $22.99 ~

That power supply won't work with that mobo, 20 pin PSU, 24pin ATX board. And 60% efficiency is bad bad. A ten percent increase in efficiency will save you over ten dollars a year with a 120watt load and ten cents per kilowatt electricity.

> 70% efficiency:
FSP Group ATX350-PA - $29.99
FSP Group ATX350-PNT - $32.99

> 80% efficiency:
Antec earthwatts EA380 - $49.99 .. Was on sale in April for $30 and free shipping
Antec earthwatts EA430 - $59.99 .. Current rebate sale of $30 plus shipping
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:51 am

Here's some news that will change the configuration of your ideal Bang for the Buck Folding Farm. All I can say is ........................... WOWZER!!! :o :P
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:11 am

I saw that ^^....and now I can't wait to see what my 8800GTS can do. Time to start overclocking :)
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:42 am

jeffry55 wrote:Here's some news that will change the configuration of your ideal Bang for the Buck Folding Farm. All I can say is ........................... WOWZER!!! :o :P


I have 2 8800GT :D
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:01 am

I just picked up a 9800GTX last week so I am rather happy to hear the client is almost released.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:15 am

I can't wait to see the points that can be produced with an 8800. :D
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:54 am

I would not get so eager with GPU folding. Its point system is completely different from CPUs. IIRC, they only work with a certain set of WUs.

For OP, I would imagine that a Wolfdale or prehaps lower-end Yorkfield folding box may be currently the most efficient folding platform. Easy, 80-100GFLOP throughput (the one link 4x3800 X2s cluster were rated at ~25GFLOP throughput)
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:33 pm

If I run the GPU client, will the points still go into my regular FAH username (themattman)?

I'm assuming the optimal setup will be to run 3 cores of SMP and 1 core will work with the GPU.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:41 pm

themattman wrote:If I run the GPU client, will the points still go into my regular FAH username (themattman)?
You can configure the GPU client to use whatever username you want, so of course you can get it to be under your name.

themattman wrote:I'm assuming the optimal setup will be to run 3 cores of SMP and 1 core will work with the GPU.
It all depends on how much ppd you can get out of the GPU client. For the GPU1 client it is not because it is only doing about 800ppd, while the SMP client can go up to 2k ppd if you have a quad. Not sure about the GPU2 client or the upcoming GPU2-Nvidia version. Someone needs to fill in the blanks here.

Also keep in mind the latest GPUs can draw up to 250W (the upcoming GTX280?) of power. The CPU is at max 140W? So the GPU client has to be a few times ahead in ppd in order to justify its much higher power consumption in terms of performance per watt.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:58 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
themattman wrote:I'm assuming the optimal setup will be to run 3 cores of SMP and 1 core will work with the GPU.
It all depends on how much ppd you can get out of the GPU client. For the GPU1 client it is not because it is only doing about 800ppd, while the SMP client can go up to 2k ppd if you have a quad. Not sure about the GPU2 client or the upcoming GPU2-Nvidia version. Someone needs to fill in the blanks here.

Also keep in mind the latest GPUs can draw up to 250W (the upcoming GTX280?) of power. The CPU is at max 140W? So the GPU client has to be a few times ahead in ppd in order to justify its much higher power consumption in terms of performance per watt.


This seems to be something many forget or haven't realized. GPU clients produce good output improvement for those with single-core CPU's, but they eat power like crazy and produce a lot of heat. They may be useful for those who have very low-priced electricity and cool weather, but otherwise they're generally a wasteful way to fold.

As for the SMP client, my single 6400@3039 MHz is producing over 2050 PPD and can beat 2120 now and then (figures for Project 2605 WU's), so newer models with larger caches and faster memory likely do even better. A good Intel quad can beat 4000 PPD if it's able to overclock decently and it's run as 2 dual-cores. I haven't seen numbers for the AMD quads, but they evidently use more power, though I would like to see what their improved SSE does for output.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:44 am

I'm getting 4800 PPD on a Q9450 OC to 3.2Ghz with WU2605. Q6600 OC'd to 3.2Ghz gets about 4500PPD on WU2605.

That's with 2 VMware SMP Guests.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Sat Jun 14, 2008 7:52 am

I really need to get vmware working again
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:38 am

Doesn't the PS3 offer the best folding performance for the buck?
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Sat Jun 14, 2008 10:12 am

Igor_Kavinski wrote:Doesn't the PS3 offer the best folding performance for the buck?

May be for the buck, but may not be per watt, especially the older ones that draw upwards of 200W at the wall.
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Re: Most efficient folding farm?

Postposted on Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:54 am

JPinTO wrote:I'm getting 4800 PPD on a Q9450 OC to 3.2Ghz with WU2605. Q6600 OC'd to 3.2Ghz gets about 4500PPD on WU2605.

That's with 2 VMware SMP Guests.


Very cool! 8) I like those numbers. :P
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