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Posts by laviathan

1) Message boards : Cafe MilkyWay : Can I justify electricity costs for MW? (Message 30771)
Posted 14 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan

- Not rebooting all the time is more of a convenience, then anything. Some don't reboot ever, because they don't want to wait to use their computer, whenever. Booting does take time, as does logging in. Others don't mind in the morning, but after lunch etc would rather not. I know few who would want to go to the trouble to shutdown, and reboot everytime they come back from a bathroom break, or a 5 min phone call.

Vistas 'sleep' shut down option takes about 15 seconds to save and shutdown, and about 10 seconds to resume to whatever you were doing.

Power consumption while sleeping for my system is 9 watts.

I believe it is similar (but faster) than hibernation (where data is kept on the hard drive while sleeping) by saving all session data to the RAM which is kept powered-on by one of the PSU's rails which always supply power to the motherboard even when the system is off (fortunately this uses nil power).

It is very similar to what laptops with vista do by default - you'll notice if idle for a few minutes they will 'turn off' but they are really going into hybrid sleep mode.

- The biggest consumer of power on the computer isn't exactly the computer itself, it's the monitor. I s'pose LCDs use less power then the old CRT? CRT's have always been big power hogs. In my old apartment, just turning off the monitor while I wasn't using my computer (but leaving the computer running), cut my electric bill by about 20-25%, with all other useage the same (lights, TV, etc).

Monitor off, whether one leaves the comp running or not, is the first good bet to cut the costs. One doesn't need to see the screen when not there, after that one can adjust to what they can afford, and want to do (aka the smaller useage on power from the comp itself, vs. convenience of it being "ready to use".

That may be true for some regular users but I dont think that is the case for many people who run BOINC. I run a 46" tv as my screen and it uses approx 100W at near-full brightness however the computer uses between 250 to 500W. Interestingly the tv's power consumption can be halved by reducing the brightness however it is not suitable for reading text for longer periods of time in that mode.

I do make a habit of turning off the display when I'm not using the computer as it is common sense. I control the other computers using remote-desktop software.
2) Message boards : Cafe MilkyWay : Can I justify electricity costs for MW? (Message 30673)
Posted 13 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
I am at a crossroads which I think many people here (or no longer here) may have found themselves at before.

I am finding it difficult to justify the huge power usage of my systems thanks running distributed computing apps 24/7 and the associated electricity use.

A random discussion about the power consumption of my main system with a friend led to discussion of MW in general and later my power bill(s).

My yearly power bill is now exceeding $2100 Australian dollars per year. This is based on my latest quarterly bill and that period included winter where my computers passively heat my residence. As it becomes hotter here, I will be paying even more for air conditioning (with or without computers running).

Unfortunately, $2100+ a year is nearly 1/5th of my yearly income as a student.

Also, I found it difficult to explain to my friend who I was discussing MW with - exactly how it benefits me. While there is an unquantifiable 'good feeling' of knowing that I'm contributing, and arguably for some people the (passive?) competition of the stats, there is a point where these intangible things need to be weighted up against practical things, like cost.

Electricity costs in my area will be increasing by 15% soon. I already pay $0.19c per kW/H inc tax.

And I just got a second 4870x2. Frick!

What other experiences have users here had when faced with the financially-important decisions like this? Discuss.
3) Message boards : Number crunching : Probability of burning a 4870x2 ? (Message 30672)
Posted 13 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
The power transistors (VDDC as in GPU-Z etc) can survive up to 180 degrees C for an indeterminate amount of time but at least a few hours (as people who fail to install 3rd party coolers or have damaged stock coolers have discovered).

Also, the cores and DISPIO (display input / output) and MEMIO (memory input / output) and the shader core can run at temperatures of ~100 degrees C for several months without failure however system stability may be low at these temperatures. This is a problem for people who are not aware their cards are running so hot - as many 4870x2 manufactures ship(ped) these cards with bios settings that didn't control the fan speed properly).

As always with silicon based technologies, you should try to keep the temperature as low as practically possible. At a temperature over 100 degrees many silicon chips will suffer rapid structural damage due to impurities in the molecular structure of the wafer. However, the high end ATI cards are somehow manufactured to allow high temperature operation for extended periods of time. This is not particularly unique of ATI/AMD because other chips for specialized applications have been designed to run at temperatures of over 250 degrees (maybe higher, thought 250 is the highest I've heard of).

If you are running your card 24/7 you should aim to keep temps under 80 degrees C to try to increase the long-term lifespan of the card. As other people have pointed out it is a good idea to set the memory frequency to 500 (or lower if stable using 3rd party programs) as this will save power ($) and lower temps, especially of MEMIO and the VDDC's.

If your really keen you can buy a 3rd party fan/heatsink or watercooling block for the card however they're expensive (but they are usually alot cooler, quieter (or silent)).
4) Message boards : Number crunching : WU's won't finish in time (Message 30399)
Posted 9 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Thanks Brian; by the way, what does it mean:

"(won't finish in time) BOINC runs 94.4% of time, computation enabled 99.5% of that". Does BOINC believe the application will take longer to execute than needed?

Boinc thinks you would have too much work to complete in the needed time.

So I need a newer version of BOINC to make a better "estimate-to-complete"?


When you find a version that all works great, you should leave it as long as possible - unless there is some huge benefit that other people have discovered in new versions.
5) Message boards : Cafe MilkyWay : Word Link IV (Message 30366)
Posted 8 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
6) Message boards : Number crunching : 4x HD4870X2, has anyone tried it yet ? (Message 30319)
Posted 7 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
I just got a 2nd 4870x2 for $130 and will let you know if I can getting it working nicely on all cores. But this may take some time :P
7) Message boards : Number crunching : CUDA Application for 32 bit Windows (Message 30318)
Posted 7 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Well I'm not sure what to do with this mess, maybe I'll wat for the next boinc version. I'm getting very frustrated trying to get this thing to run both GPU and CPU. I know my hardware is good enough and all my drivers are up to date. Any tips would be appreciated, getting tired going to bed! G'night all.
;-p See ya tomorrow!!

Run a virtual machine and install boinc on it and run your CPU based project with it ;)

I would not recommend using VMWare as it seems to have issues getting 100% use on multicore CPU's.
8) Message boards : Number crunching : 4x HD4870X2, has anyone tried it yet ? (Message 30304)
Posted 7 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
It makes sense there would be a problems trying to run two 4870x2s in crossfire (on 2 video out cards).

I have never seen a 4870x2 with 4 outputs though.

I am confident that if you spent alot of time tinkering with driver configurations and settings you could get all 4 cores running MW on two dual-output cards but it would probably be alot of work (I'm willing to try it if I can get a second card). I plan to get a second 4870x2 from ebay and if I fail getting it to run then I can sell it on ebay again and should get my money back.

I know the F@H people have had nightmares trying to get it to work on all 4 cores. But that was a few months ago when Catalyst 9.3 was only beta. (By the way, they never got it going as far as I know).
9) Message boards : Number crunching : ATI 4770 work ... or not? (Message 30284)
Posted 6 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
"The top of the line, a single PCB Dual GPU card called the 5870X2, will hit the stores at $599. The single GPU version will be called the 5870 and will set you back only about $399. The 5850, the least expensive video card in the 58xx line, will sell for about $299."
Radeon 58xx Pricing

Unless you plan on purchasing them to only run MW... you will need a very high performance system to unlock the full potential of the 5870x2 and maybe the 5890 in games. A 4870x2 based system will be limited by the cpu (assuming quad core not i7) until you get to about 4GHz cpu clock speed. Benchmarks have shown this since the day these cards were released and will probably be repeated with the new 5xxx series.
10) Message boards : Number crunching : BOINC has a new King of the hill, gues who ;) (Message 30276)
Posted 6 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Suspicious amounts of pink here also.
11) Message boards : Number crunching : 4x HD4870X2, has anyone tried it yet ? (Message 30271)
Posted 6 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
While testing my power consumption today I also noticed that the power draw fluctuates. There seems to be a average value and then every 15 seconds it will nearly double for a split second before slowly going back down to the average and occasionally it goes a bit lower. My measurements were an average of 25 readings..

My current budget and situation does not let me spend huge amounts of money on computers as much as I would like. Not nearly as much as I see some of the top contributors to this project are.

I use my computer equipment as a heater too. However I live in a subtropical zone so most of the year it is actually a bad thing.

I am trying to get my hands on another cheap 4870x2 and plan to edit their bios heavily and try to get into the top 20 user RAC for this project.

Its probably a good thing your not planning to game on it. I was just reading about the scaling of 4x 4870x2 systems and it appears that in almost all games there is VERY little benefit to having a second 4870x2, and in some cases a single card is better. Even fewer games can properly use 3 and even then the benefits would probably be very small. And it seems running a 4th card results in extreme bottlenecks and the entire system becomes limited by the CPU (no matter how expensive it is or how high it has been overclocked).

In regards to the list of top computers in MW, I'm more interested in how some users have got 64 processors on one system. Must be a bug, system info hack, or he works for intel and procured a prototype engineering sample :P

Verstapp, another problem (aside from no rain) is that most of the significant hydro power resources here have already been tapped. Also, it is often not simple or economical to convert a non-power-generating dam into a power generating one.

Maybe in a few decades we'll have some nuclear power stations here and we wont be paying $0.20 per kW/h and wont be destroying the environment at the same time.
12) Message boards : Number crunching : 4x HD4870X2, has anyone tried it yet ? (Message 30260)
Posted 6 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Edit: (where has the edit button gone?)

I have measured the AC input to my computer it seems my estimates were a bit off. I might make a post about it later because its still a small saving.

I am sure though that the 275W i mentioned in my last post must have been a TDP value since the actual is no where near that high (MW adds only 150W AC at default settings).

Unfortunately it is difficult to determine the power consumption of the card... I am not sure if simply finding the wattage of each core (VxI for each set of stats in GPU-Z etc) represents the true power consumption of the card. And I'm not aware of any simple physical way to measure it. Even measuring AC power consumption and trying to convert that to a DC value is difficult especially since powersupply conversion efficiency is non-linear.

You could probably get away with a single high power PSU. I suppose they're all overload protected anyway and you probably have a few lying around. Worth keeping a close eye on the PSU's voltage stats while under load though to ensure its providing stable power.
13) Message boards : Number crunching : 4x HD4870X2, has anyone tried it yet ? (Message 30255)
Posted 6 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Well the biggest issue will be cost. If you are able to obtain the parts for system like this or you are somehow sponsored or can otherwise justify then I dont see why you couldnt try it. But for most people buying four of one of the most expensive cards on the market is too much. Judging by your profile I assume you have $$$ to burn for whatever reason...

The biggest problems will probably be power consumption. A single 4870x2 uses up to 275W while gaming. However, you can underclock the memory to save power (I have not had time to measure the saving from the AC power with my meter but judging by the current draw drops in GPU-Z it should be about 15 to 20% less power consumption. Note that memory speed does not really affect MW so you can actually just leave it on 500mhz. (I have tried it - with a stopwatch, at 900mhz and 500mhz and there is no difference in work unit time.) You can do this easily in CCC just with the sliders OR you could edit the BIOS of all the cards.

Assuming you got it down to 250W each at ~100% load on both cores on all 4 cards you are still left with 1000W power consumption. There are only a few PSU's which exceed this (and are any good) so either you will want to have a very power efficient motherboard/ram and perhaps not too many other things in the system OR you could try setting up a dual-PSU system and have say two 750+W PSU's etc.

Unless you live where it is epic cold you will either need vent the heat outside or run aircon constantly as your computer is, as you say in your profile, a heater. Except it would be worse in this build.

Of course, you are going to run into all kinds of problems try to get any GAMES running with all 8 cores... however as far as I understand, milkyway should detect all 8 and start using them.

I suppose there could be another problem - if you have 8 cores and also are running two work units on each (preference setting = n2)(recommended) then you are going to be crunching 16 work units at once. This will take about one minute to 1:30 to complete 16 (or less if you overclocked all the cores). Because boinc only communicates every two minutes with the MW server for more tasks (at least on my setup) - and it only has up to 24 tasks at time - a system with 4x4870x2's might process more tasks than it can download. But i might be wrong, maybe if it runs out of work it speeds up the communication interval at least temporarily and will download more work.

If you think you can justify spending a fortune on this build and only intend to use it for milkyway then go for it. I am not aware of any other BOINC projects that will run 8 cores. Mabye GPU grid? Folding@home should.

I would also find it funny if you built it and then MW project shut down. :)

Running four of the best 5000 series cards would just be insanity. I cant recommending spending the $4000+ AUD to purchase the cards for a system like that. (But the 6.0 teraflops per card - compared to 4870x2's 2.4 - is nice)(figures from leaked specs sheet from a few months back).
14) Message boards : Number crunching : Load 2GB 4890s 100% ? (Message 30201)
Posted 4 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Thank you for the hints!!

You are right,I see my GPUs are too hot,so maybe its better I will try these settings next with a cooler time.


Can you force the cards fan(s) to run faster with CCC (in overdrive settings) or there are a few third party apps you could try (I like CCC's fan control option since it speeds up on boot).

Some cards (like 4870x2's) would catch on fire if you didnt turn up the fan speed. (They'd really get a core temperature about 100 degrees C and freeze/crash/bsod.
15) Message boards : Number crunching : Load 2GB 4890s 100% ? (Message 30071)
Posted 1 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Maybe a driver incompatibility of some kind.

Suggest you look at this thread really carefully if you havent:


and maybe

16) Message boards : Number crunching : ATI GPU app 0.19f fixes the ps_sgr_208_3s errors (Message 30068)
Posted 1 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
Any Catalyst driver version suggestion for Windows XP x64? Just tried the 9.8 but sometimes I get VPU errors...

thank you all


I run 9.5 with no problems.
17) Message boards : Number crunching : GPU lacking needed stuff>>> (Message 30067)
Posted 1 Sep 2009 by Profile laviathan
What was the message?

The CUDA app is fairly new. Even the ATI app (which I believe is a bit older) is still somewhat user unfriendly.
18) Message boards : Number crunching : No work?! (Message 29987)
Posted 30 Aug 2009 by Profile laviathan
24 tasks received.

Heat output nominal.

Disaster averted.
19) Message boards : Number crunching : A Tale of Two OS (Message 29986)
Posted 30 Aug 2009 by Profile laviathan
You can become very good at moving your files and settings from one computer to another. I have built computers for a lot of family members and that often involves transfer or recovery of their data and settings. I recently transitioned and retired one of my own old computers (not one of my 'primary computers') which had a 5 year old windows install and about 350GB of data accumulated (not much compared to my newer two computers, ~3500). It took a long time not because of the large amount of files (its easy to sort/find all your files with a program like Spacemonger) but because of all the programs installed and configured how I like them. Luckily if you keep your install files for everything you ever install that will reduce the drama associated with reinstalling everything.

It sounds like some people in this thread would've benefited from the Windows 7 beta and RTM releases which were free and would've let you try it. I think now that it is too late to register and IIRC the RTM actually ends soon too. I installed the beta on a server and it was an amazingly smooth and bug-free experience.

I am very impressed with vista on my main machine however I will be tempted to purchase Windows 7 and a bunch of SSD drives for it, once it is released, as it performs even better than vista (and is SSD optimised).

I know I can turn off the nagging, though as others have pointed out then you are back to being very unsafe. In that I don't really use the windows systems for anything other than BOINC it is not going to be a long term big deal. Just like I have not pressing need to upgrade other than to move to 64 bits so I can have access to more memory (on my smallest system I have 4G and on the rest I have 6 ... though the system I actually use to do work has 16G and is a mac ... :)

I feel the need to have a rant which is not specifically directed at anyone in particular.

The supposed risks of turning off UAC are debatable especially in some situations. There is no reason to leave UAC on if:

-It annoys you, and:
-You are experienced with the operation of computers (as I suspect most here are) and, you are careful about the installation of dodgey software, spyware, virus, trojans, etc. (Have another computer to test such software if necessary)
-Your computer is in a home environment with a secure local network (ie no unsecured wifi, or physical access points)
-You use firefox (:P)
-The computer in question is secure in terms of people who could use it. ie. you dont have children or siblings who look at suspicious things or might allow the installation of nasties
-You have all the updates to Windows and software, where reasonable
-You perform regular, and complete backups which are stored securely (ie. not a USB HDD sitting plugged-in ontop of your computer, but instead kept in a safe or at another residence, etc)
-You have a modern and reasonably configurable hardware firewall

Similarly to disabling UAC, I am so confident with the above precautions that I also dont run any (live scanning) antivirus, spyware/adware scanner or software firewall on some of my computers. Your probably thinking "BLASPHEMY!" if your still reading this. But it is easy enough to setup a computer and VNC (if your too lazy to move to that computer :P) it to scan for such things. In fact, if I were to download a suspect file on this computer it only need be cut/paste temporarily to a computer with live-scanning (or saved there in the first place). This is actually easier than starting up the antivirus service and then performing a manual scan (NOD32).

Call me crazy if you want but by following the above I have gotten through (mostly unscathed) about 8 years of computing without any serious issues (like being hacked or having my information stolen) or losing large amounts of data. This pretty good since I have always undertaken relatively risky computer activities in my spare time such as going to LAN parties where virus (and the risk of physical computer damage) are rampant. The only significant issue I have encountered was the recent loss of about 30gb of easily-re-downloadable media which was lost when one my four 500GB drives in raid 0 decided to randomly write inconsistent data during a BSOD which occurred while benchmarking (running vista with such an array and with Advanced Performance mode enabled is pushing the limits of performance-vs-safety) - but in my opinion worth it.

Some benefits to not running live-scanning or software firewalls:

-Significant performance gains especially while gaming and loading of the OS
-Reduced risk of hard drive failure thanks to reduced read/write operations due to having no live scanning taking place (eg, NOD32, per day, reads up to 25GB per day during normal operation on my computers if it is enabled). Despite this I have still had my fair share of drive failures so do not assume I have just been lucky. I am fully aware of the sensitive nature of hard drives - I throw out SCSI drives (related to my other hobbies) at a rate of at least one per week.
-No nagging prompts, eg from UAC - or worse - software firewalls: "windows service #325235 has requested an outbound connection to 192...." etc messages. The usefulness of software firewalls in the first place is debatable since most users cannot interpret if the prompts are due to normal computer operation or a malicious activity.
-No problems with network connectivity, sharing files, or with programs accessing the internet

In regards to 64-bit and memory: I run 64-bit Vista and 4GB of DDR3 RAM at 1600MHz. Once you tweak vista 64's registry to disable its ridiculous driver checking schemes and turn off UAC it becomes a great experience. People who claim vista is slow should reconsider their specifications or at least give Windows 7 a try if they've since been led to assume that all new Windows software is slow.

Unfortunately, although I would like to double my ram to 8GB, due to a arbitrary hardware incompatibility and stability problem; my motherboard does not support a full compliment of 4 DIMMs of the specific memory I use.

I also note that your 'work' system has 16GB of RAM. This leads me to assume that the rest of this conversation could be slightly biased against Windows, since I assume you are some kind of artist/editor/designer and thus are inherently drawn to MACs since they have rightfully claimed that niche part of the market.

I need breakfast.(/End rant)[/list]
20) Message boards : Number crunching : Credit sheme (Message 29961)
Posted 30 Aug 2009 by Profile laviathan
they seem to be waiting for all results to be returned before turning the work gen. on again....


OTOH, it might just be broken.....

More reasonable.

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