New Folder Q's: P4 SMP? & GPU recommendation please
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Author:  dereksbelanger [ Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:17 am ]
Post subject:  New Folder Q's: P4 SMP? & GPU recommendation please

Hi everyone. I just started folding last week on a handful of spare [email protected] machines I have at work. Here is my progress chart: http://folding.extremeoverclocking.com/ ... =&u=493918

Anyway - since I'm new at this I have a bunch of questions!

Is running the SMB client on a P4 practical?

One of the PCs in my little farm has one PCIe x16 slot and a 350W power supply. Would installing a GPU in this PC and running the GPU client be worthwhile? Which GPU would you recommend?

Another one of the PCs has one AGP slot and a 230W power supply. Again, what would you recommend?

The rest of the PCs are low profile and have only PCI slots – with the single core CPU client they each fold ~345PPD if I run two jobs and ~240PPD if I run one job. I seem to always get 336 point jobs and they finish way under the deadline. Would it be better to shut these systems down and just do whatever GPU processing I can with the two systems that have graphics slots?

Thanks for the advice!

Author:  cordis [ Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:22 am ]
Post subject:  yes gpu!

Yes, definitely get a gpu into the one with a pcie slot, that will help out a lot. Although you may need a beefier supply, depending on the card you get. As far as smp folding goes, you could always give it a try, I'm sure you'd get a lot more ppd out of it. Especially if you went with linux on those machines. I've always wanted to see how much you could get out of a P4 on linux. Be sure that hyperthreading is turned on in the bios, though, you'll definitely need that. So give it a try if you can, let us know how it goes, and welcome!

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:44 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks! I'll give the SMP a try....just have to decide which one to use.

I may have found GPU solutions for my PCIe and AGP systems

AGP: HD 3850 - 2000ppd @ 180 watts - $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814102730

PCIe: GTS 250 - 5000ppd @ 210 watts - $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814187070

Author:  cordis [ Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  go with the 250, or....

I have a couple GTS 250s, and they seem pretty reliable, of the two choices there it's hard to beat the ppd/$. With either I'd be worried about your power budget, the p4 could be up to 115W depending on the processor, so a 350W supply would really be pushing it. You might want to try something less power hungry. Normally I'd recommend something like a 9600 gso, but it has become hard to find the 96 stream processor version of those. You could go with a GT 240, there's even this nifty fanless one if you hate noise:


It is kind of pricey though. The card should give you around 4000-3500ppd, although I can't say for sure since I don't have one. So you'd take a hit in the ppd and not much drop in the cost, but the chip is rated at around 70W, so even with the worst case P4 you should make it under your power budget.

As far as setup goes, it's generally easier to set up gpu folding on windows, although it can be done in linux with Wine. I have it working on a few machines under Ubuntu, it's not too hard to set up for a single card. I can give you pointers for the nvidia cards, haven't done it for an AMD card so no idea if it works for that.

Author:  coweater58 [ Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

I have used the AGP 3850 with a P4 HT 3.2ghz and it did very well.

I don't use the AGP powercolor 3850 any more and i have an extra XFX 9600 GSO 1gb 96 sp. The AGP card doesn't have that heatsink anymore. it has a zalman VF700. if your interested i would sell both for $140.

Good luck with folding




Author:  NeilBlanchard [ Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:58 pm ]
Post subject: 


I don't think that the SMP client will work with a single core P4, even with hyper threading. It is intended to run on quad cores, and it will run okay on dual cores, but I think the deadlines will be too strict for a P4 to finish often enough to be helpful. The deadline on the SMP work units is about 3 days, and there is no grace period. If you miss it, you lose all the credit.

The GPU client will FLY -- it is about 5X faster than the SMP client. The one GPU will probably far outproduce all the P4's combined?

Author:  cordis [ Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:31 pm ]
Post subject:  bet it would...

Well, I'm not quite that pessimistic. First off, I've been noticing a lot of 6 day smp jobs lately, those 1920 point WU's are usually like that. Also, I've had a lot of luck running smp on some fairly underpowered machines, I'm typing this on a dual core U9400 running at 1.4GHz, it gets 500-700ppd, but I haven't seen it lose any WUs, and my Atom 330 gets around 600-900ppd, and it doesn't lose many WUs. Sometimes they get close though, I've seen some 3 day jobs complete in roughly 2d 12 hours. Now you'd definitely have to run 64 bit linux on it, but I think a 3GHz P4 could return some WUs, and I'd love to hear some real data about it. I'd bet it would get somewhere in the range of 800-1000ppd. The big problem is that the Watts/ppd value would probably suck, but if it's watts from work, it may not matter to Derek here. On the other hand, if they're machines at work, he may not be able to install linux, so that would probably make SMP use infeasible. So eh, if you can put linux on one, try it, also install Fahmon, and let us know what the ppd look like. Otherwise, just stick to the gpu and the uniprocessor clients. But whatever you do, keep on folding!

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:32 am ]
Post subject: 

While setting up the SMP client on one of the P4s I noticed that to run in SMP you have to use the -smb x argument.

What would "–smp 1" mean to the client?

Author:  cordis [ Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  actually...

I don't think you have to use that, you can if you like, but all my machines running smp just use '-smp' with no arguments. The code just figures out how many cores you have and goes from there. Setting it to '-smp 1' would probably be an illegal setting, might cause it to crash.

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:31 am ]
Post subject: 

ok here's what I've discovered about the folding potential of a

3.0GHz P4 630 *prescott* PC XP Pro SP3 (86w idle):

SMP = 488ppd (160 watt = 3.05ppd/watt)
Uni one job = 240ppd (150 watt = 1.6ppd/watt)
Uni two jobs = 345ppd (160 watt = 2.15ppd/watt)

SMP beats two uniprocessor jobs by 42%

The SMP job is for 1920 points with a deadline of 6 days and delivery ETA of ~4 days...so it should finish two days before deadline.

-SMP 1 does not crash the client, seems to work exacly the same as -SPM 2...but I like cordis suggestion of just using -SMP and letting the program figure it out. Thanks for the tip!

Author:  cordis [ Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  nice!

Thanks for the info, now is that windows or linux? At 488ppd, you're going to be right on the edge for some WUs, I'd think. Although they may run faster, so it might work out. If you're happy to let it run for a while, keep an eye on it and see how it goes, some WUs may pop up that won't finish in time. Very interesting stuff though, I'm now holding out less hope that I'll be able to do anything useful with my old giant laptop. :(

Oh and yeah, those are terrible ppd/watt numbers, I think my Atom 330 system (with no gpu) gets about 13ppd/watt, and some of my multiple gpu/quad core systems get around 50 ppd/watt. I sure hope you're not paying to power that thing!

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: nice!

cordis wrote:
Thanks for the info, now is that windows or linux?

XP Pro SP3

Gotta love the "free" electricity at work. I'll let these tests play out to see what we can learn.

Yeah, these P4 rigs are pretty horrible. I think setting up the two computers with graphics ports to do GPU folding will be much better.

I'll keep ya up to date!

Author:  cordis [ Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:30 pm ]
Post subject:  hmmm

Interesting. You might get a little better ppd if you changed it to linux, but not much, maybe 500-550ppd. The payoff for using linux is lower for dual core machines, so it's probably even less for HT dual cores. Thanks for the data!

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:13 am ]
Post subject: 

Overnight PPD on the P4 SMP test system dropped from 488 to 406.

Six day jobs stink because you have to wait forever for the WU to finish and the points to show up.

I set up another SPM test on a slightly different system with the same [email protected] CPU. It also recieved a 1920 point job with a six day deadline. It is producing 383ppd.

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:33 am ]
Post subject: 

I tested the PC with a PCIe slot and 400w PS.

Under full CPU load it draws 140w which would leave me 260w for the GTS 250 (which I think actually uses ~150w)....so I ordered one!

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814121334

What drivers are working best for folding on a 200 series GeForce card?

Author:  frenchie [ Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Looks like youre going to have to change the cooler....

newegg quotes :
Sounds like a Jet Engine
the fan is loud, i set the fan to 10% and it was still noticeable over my Asus 8800GT
at factory settings it sounds like a small vacuum is stuck in my PC

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:42 am ]
Post subject: 

hahaha! I read the reviews. This PC is sitting on the floor of our server room - I really doubt we will even notice it with all the other equipment screaming away in there.

The PC has an odd chassis and this card looked like it woudl fit best - and it has a VGA port which is important because the monitors in that room are all VGA.

I only do silence on my desktop and in my HTPC

server room...anything goes :)

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:40 am ]
Post subject: 

Booooogers! The GTS 250 wont fit in the case :(

ATX power cable is right above the PCIe slot and it hits the heatsink/fan on the GPU.

Author:  SebRad [ Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:10 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi, with regard to PSUs I'm running a Q9400 @ 3GHz with a GTX260 @ 650/1125/1550 and it's using ~200w AC. So 170~180w DC from the PSU. Most of this will be off the 12V line so check the ratings on the PSU(s) in your machines. The P4 maybe using more power than my Q9400 but not a lot I wouldn't think.
For Points/$ and points/watt I think Nvidia cards are the way to go. GTS250 and GTX260 are around the sweet spot but 9xxx cards will work too. For folding I think it's all about the shader power, i.e. no. shaders * frequency will give a good guide to relative performance. I think some of the 9x00 cards come in various versions and you want the ones with more shaders if possible.
My Dad's Geforce 9300 IGP will run GPU units, IIRC ~500 ppd, but the Windows Aero interface performace goes out the window... Shows just about any current Nvidia card is fast enough for a folding PC though.
Regards, Seb

Author:  cordis [ Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:17 am ]
Post subject:  bummer

Sorry to hear about the 250 not fitting. I wonder if you could get some king of power cable adapter, I know they make extensions, but I'm not sure if they make low-profile connectors or something like that. Well, if that's going to be a problem, I guess you'll need to find a shorter card. Some of the newer ones might do it, the 220 or the 240, they seem kind of small. Possibly an older 9600 gso would work, I thought there were a few with tiny fans that could be short. It'll be tricky though, it's hard to sort cards on that kind of stuff. I hope you can return the card and try something new! Keep hope alive, buddy!

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:42 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks SebRad. Yeah, after looking around I agree about the nVidia 250-260 cards being in the sweet spot. I also discovered that the GTS250 is actually a rebranded 9800+ so a good deal on one of those would be a….good deal :)

A 260GTX (core 216) can fold 7700ppd (44% more than the GTS250) and cost about $225 but it uses ~45w more than the GTS250. Anyway, if anyone is shopping for these cards, you really want the 216 core because it uses 3w less and folds 2300ppd more than the pre core 216 version.

Cordis, I know! I'm kinda bummed, but I'll keep my little P4 farm running for now. I'm planning on upgrading my HTPC when SATA3 and USB3 hit mainstream - when that happens I'll build a folding rig out of my old parts: Biostar TA 790GX-128M (2 PCIe x16 2.0 slots) and AMD 7750 2.7GHz dual core CPU. I should be able to set this up for twin GPU folding. Yay!

Author:  cordis [ Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:01 am ]
Post subject:  short cards

Took a look on newegg to see how short the 240s are, and most are pretty short. This first one is the cheapest,


This one is pretty short, but a little more pricey:


But I think this one is actually the shortest, it just barely sticks out over the end of the slot:


Of course, I'm assuming that the power connector is at the side of the board by the end of the slot, and that's why it's hitting it. If it's somewhere else, you may be on your own. You can also get various slot extenders or right angle converters, one of those might help too if there aren't any other cards in the system

Oh, and your figures for the 260 are a little optimistic, you might see 7100 or 7200 for one of the faster WUs, but most of the ones I've seen lately come out around 6800 to 6900. Although my 260s are now in a linux box, so there's a little overhead associated with that, but I wouldn't expect 7700ppd from one.

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:20 pm ]
Post subject: 

The power connector is right ABOVE the PCIe slot. Craziest thing I've ever seen. Anyway, it means you cant put a video card in there unless there isnt a fan/heatsink on the top side of the GPU.

Ah! Good info about the real performance of the 260 - I was just going off info I found on the web.

How close to accurate is what I read about the 250 - that it can produce 5400ppd?

Thanks Cordis!

Author:  cordis [ Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:20 pm ]
Post subject:  huh

Right above the slot? Yikes. Then you'll definitely be in the extender/riser market. Stuff like this:


That's a pretty wide selection, but they're a little on the pricey side, you can probably take a look and figure out what you need and google it to find a cheaper one. The flexible cabled ones are usually the most flexible in terms of getting around issues, but you'll need to do a little more to support the card in whatever position it finally ends up in. If you don't care about noise, some clever zip-tie work can usually keep something in place, but it will rattle, I prefer velcro for quieter mounting, but it does need a least a couple fairly hard surfaces to get a good mount.

As far as the 250 goes, I'd say off hand around 5200-4800ppd is fairly average, but it does depend a lot on what kind of WU it's working on. I've been using one of my 250s in my HTPC, they're usually easy to find with an HDMI port.

Edit: Just wanted to edit to add that I may have underestimated my 250s, one is now running at 5366ppd, and the other is running at 5733ppd (according to fahmon). So eh, at least mid 5k should be possible, depending on the WU and the platform. :)

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Mon Jan 25, 2010 7:42 am ]
Post subject: 

The first two SMP WUs are complete on the 3Ghz P4 computers.

1920 point jobs finish about 20-30 hours before deadline and produce about 400ppd

These computers are working on their 2nd 1920 point SMP WUs now and performance again looks exactly as indicated above.

This is slightly better than running two uniprocessor jobs on the same computers which averages 320ppd.

Author:  cordis [ Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:00 pm ]
Post subject:  sounds good

That sounds about right. The 1920 jobs are roughly middle of the road jobs, if you're lucky you'll get a 1760 point job, those usually go a little faster, but watch out for the 2165 point jobs, those go slow.

Author:  dereksbelanger [ Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:37 am ]
Post subject: 

I decided to try disabling HT on the P4 and running a uni-processor job to see what it would yeild

280ppd for a 336 point job

This is slightly better than the 240ppd I get when HT is enabled.


I was wrong - there was a small hardware difference between the two computers.

On identical hardware the same PPD is achieved both with HT enabled or disabled.

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