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 Post subject: Folding Farm - cost per node
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 12:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2003 11:50 am
Posts: 70
Location: Houston, TX
In the investigation of creating a folding farm, I'm trying to figure out what a good cost per node should be. Obviously, the optimal cost is zero, which can be accomplished by borging other people's computers, :twisted: but I'm interested in cobbling together old parts and folding on them, partially as a research project and partially for fun.

Low-end commercial products, (eMachines, Lindows boxen, etc.), run around $300 or so. I figure that I should be able to do better than that. A folding box doesn't need a keyboard, mouse, display, or even a CD-ROM. On pricewatch, there are systems which are under $200 including shipping, but these include the unnecessary stuff.

I would want system(s) which cost under $.10 per megahertz or PR factor, including shipping.

I wonder if people have been able to find systems with only case, power supply, motherboard, processor, HSF, video, memory, hard disk, and NIC for 1) under $200 including shipping, and 2) less than 10 cents a MHz/PR. (The video and NIC can be integrated on the motherboard)

Maybe the best action would be to buy people's old PCs from them for $.10 a megahertz, I've seen some decent deals on Ebay.

Quieting these PCs wouldn't be an issue, since the farm will go in a closet. :)


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 1:38 pm 
Patron of SPCR

Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 4:00 pm
Posts: 918
Location: Madison, WI, USA
I think my farm was something around $.10 a PR if you look at my thread. I don't think I made the best choice for mobo though.

Here's everything from newegg I'd do:
$76 Soltek SL-NV400-L64. the new single channel nForce2.
$42 Athlon XP 1700+.
$27 Fortron 120mm
$28 128mb PC2700
$22 Generic SIS video card. mobility radeon is cheaper, but its AGP 2x and may not work with the mobo, won't with my 8rda+.
$20 Thermalright AX-7 + NMB/panaflo L1A
This comes to $215 and an overclock to at least 2100+ level will be ridiculously easy. Even an overclock to 2 ghz shouldn't be hard, meeting your $.10.

The problem is the hard drive. I couldn't get the diskless boot to work, but I think thats a problem with my network setup.

I learned a few things from my farm; for starters I should've checked reviews on the MN31N, no CPU voltage adjustments!

 Post subject: *slightly* different take...
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 4:23 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2002 7:11 pm
Posts: 7378
Location: Maynard, MA, Eaarth

My two variations on a node:

Athlon XP 2100+ (T'Bred 'B'): $67
Chaintech 7NIF2-Summit (nForce2 IGP): $89
(2) Crucial PC3200 128MB ($30 each): $60
Fortron P300XFPN 300watt PS: $27
Seagate 40GB 7200RPM 2MB cache HD: $61
Speeze FalconRock aluminum HS w/copper "plug" and 26.5dBa 80mm fan: $9
shipping to Massachusetts: $10 (gotta luv New Egg!)
Total: $313

The northbridge fan would have to be dealt with...
IMO, if you are springing for an nForce2 motherboard, use both memory channels -- hence the two sticks of PC3200 RAM. The T'Bred 'B' runs cooler even than the T'Bred, and so, you could easily get to 2500+ range, and probably 2700+ or so on stock voltage.

Athlon XP 1700+ (T'Bred): $42
AsRock K7-VM2 Via KT266 w/ ProSavage8 video
Crucial PC3200 128MB: $30
Maxtor 30GB 7200RPM 2MB cache HD: $54
Sparkle ATX-250GT 250watt PS (undervolt the fan): $17
Speeze FalconRock aluminum HS w/copper "plug" and 26.5dBa 80mm fan: $9
shipping to Massachusetts: $16
Total: $219

Passive northbrdge, super low price -- Wow!

[Edit]: The other big savings if you can boot from floppies/CD-ROM/network is less noise! :wink: Of course, a network boot requires that the on-board NIC support it...

Sincerely, Neil

Last edited by NeilBlanchard on Mon Aug 11, 2003 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Folding Node price/performance
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 7:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2003 11:50 am
Posts: 70
Location: Houston, TX
Are you guys suggesting that each node be caseless? Although it wouldn't be too hard to make a simple case out of a cardboard box and duct tape, (gotta love that duct tape) :), I think it might be better to put the stuff in a case. Now, if I was to share two nodes across one power supply, I might try building a cardboard case, but from what I have read on the subject, sharing a power supply across two nodes is at best dodgy and at worst can ruin a perfectly good power supply.

Here's what I get from (caseless)
Power Supply: Sparkle model ATX-250GT - 250 WATTS OEM - 21.00
Motherboard: ASROCK Model K7-VM2 - RETAIL - 51.00
Processor: AMD Athlon XP 1700+ Thoroughbred 1.47GHz -OEM - 42.00
HSF: Speeze FalconRock CPU Fan Model 5F286B - 9.00
Memory: Crucial 128MB PC-2700 DDR RAM, Model CT1664Z335 - 27.99
HDD: MAXTOR 30GB 7200RPM Model # 6E030L0 OEM - 54.00
Shipping (to Houston) 16.00
Total: 216.99

To get the cost down to $.10 per MHz I'd have to overclock the CPU to 2170 MHz, which is doable, my JIUHB stepping 1700 can do it, but not certain.

Getting a case with a power supply adds about $20 including shipping. That may put the $.10 per MHz out of reach, but $.10 per PR is still doable.

The biggest chunk of cash outlay (more than 25%) is for the HDD. If you substitute floppies for each HDD, boot each node into *nix off the floppy, and put one shared HDD in a "master" node, that would cut node cost substantially. I believe that's what Zhentar was trying to do. An easier way would be to buy 1-2 GB drives on Ebay.

Getting my two goals of sub-$200 cost and $.10 per MHz (alternatively $.10 per PR) may not be doable at Newegg.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 8:46 pm 
*Lifetime Patron*

Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2003 7:51 am
Posts: 391
Location: Paris, France
You could also use those old 4x CD-ROM drives you probably already have and boot into Knoppix, then run F@H from a network share. It would require nearly no configuration. Plug-and-fold.

You save 54$ if you already have the drives, and maybe 44$ if you have to buy them (I'm sure you can find them very cheap on ebay).

You could also save some money by running two nodes with a single PSU, but it can be tricky.

PC Silencieux (french website)

 Post subject: Re: Folding Node price/performance
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 12:59 am 
Patron of SPCR

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2003 1:56 am
Posts: 316
Buddabing wrote:
Are you guys suggesting that each node be caseless?

Look at this:


XP 2800@2270mhz+SLK800A+Nexus fan, Aopen 8RDA+@414mhz, Samsung 80gb on foam, XFX6800GT with a Nexus 120mm fan taped onto it, Nexus 4090 PSU, Chieftec Dragon+Nexus fan@1200rpm

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