19 March 2017

19th of March

Farm Status
Intel GPUs
All off at the moment. They have been running overnight.

Nvidia GPUs
All off at the moment. The two GTX1060's were run overnight.

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work

Linux testing
I did some more testing with Linux giving various VM's a workout. I have a Debian Jessie VM, a Debian Stretch VM and a Mint VM. I'm in a position to switch the Intel GPUs over to Linux without too much drama. About the only problem I see is each machine will get a new identity and lose its history of work done.

It seems Microsoft has started giving messages about unsupported CPU's on earlier versions of Windows with the latest CPU's which includes the AMD Ryzen. That means all new equipment I buy will probably be running Linux. Not the smartest idea from Redmond. It will be interesting to see how much market share they lose.

Storage Server
It is still on its way. I have already picked up a bunch of new 4TB hard disk drives to go in it. I have also ordered a 10Gbit network card to put in it. That means I'll have to get a couple of switches that support 10Gbit before I can make use of it. I am thinking of a 1Gbit switch with a 10Gbit uplink for most of the crunchers and a 10Gbit main switch. All my machines (apart from the Raspberry Pis and the AlphaServer) have 1Gbit network ports, some have two.

I need to make some room for the new server. I'm expecting to get rid of a number of CM Storm Sniper cases. Two of them still have ASUS P6T's and Corsair H80 water cooling in them, the other parts have been cannibalised. The other two are empty.

After that I need to sell off the existing i7-5820K's (I have two) before I can order some AMD Ryzen's to replace them with. Then there are all the old graphics cards that I need to get rid of...

07 March 2017

7th of March

Farm Status
Intel GPUs
All except one running Seti work

Nvidia GPUs
Ran all of last weekend. Currently off.

Raspberry Pis
All except two running Einsten BRP4 work

Linux testing
In my hunt to find alternatives to Windows I have been installing various Linux flavours on a couple of machines. My current leaning is towards Debian. I'd like to get an up to date kernel and they have an up-coming release called Stretch. When exactly it will be available is a guess, but maybe April 2017. Why do I need the later kernel, well those AMD Ryzen machines need an up to date kernel to correctly run tasks on them.

I spent a lot of time last weekend and again this weekend installing and re-installing to find out that either upgrading to Stretch or installing via the Stretch net-install (RC2) doesn't work and you lose the desktop.

At the moment I've setup a virtual machine and I'm on the 2nd reinstall of Debian after it decided to remove my entire desktop due to doing apt-get remove gstreamer* and apt-get autoremove commands.

I did have a play with Mint 18.1 (Serena) which is visually great however I don't want a full-blown desktop system just to run on the number crunchers and possibly storage servers. A light-weight desktop is enough for my needs. I can even work with no desktop and use the command-line if needed.

Storage server
I have ordered a bunch of 4TB hard disks and a 2U 12 bay storage server. Its taken almost 2 weeks of back and forth with the shop to get it configured the way I want.

I currently have a Windows-based file server with a RAID controller and 4 x 4TB hard disks and while it works fine expanding its capacity is rather difficult. As it turns out the one I am buying uses the same motherboard as my existing file server, so I may just rebuild it later into the same configuration and use it to backup the new one.

Ryzen woes
After the PC Case Gear payment portal decided it didn't like me being behind a corporate firewall I haven't placed my order. That turned out to be a good thing because there are a couple of major issues with them.

First the motherboard people are having to correct issues with their BIOS so most motherboards are hard to find at the moment.

Second the windows task scheduler doesn't understand they are hyper-threaded chips and so it moves tasks around more than it should effecting performance. That will probably require Microsoft to provide an update. How long and which versions of windows it will be available for is unknown. Linux (if you have an up to date kernel) doesn't have this issue.

Once these issues are ironed out I think they'll provided a great replacement for my 6 core/12 thread machines and I will place my order. I need to sell off my old hardware to make room for the new stuff.

26 February 2017

26th of February

Farm Status
Intel GPUs
All running Einstein Multi-directed Gravity Wave work

Nvida GPUs
Two running Seti work

Raspberry Pis
All except two running Einstein BRP4 work. The other two (a Pi2 and a Pi3) are running Seti Beta work

Seti multi-beam apps for Rpi
There has been some progress on the Raspberry Pi app which is why I have a Pi2 and Pi3 running Seti Beta. We're currently testing an updated app that is slightly faster than the previous one as well as being able to work on the ARM v6 (Pi Zero, B and B+). If you're going to run on a ARM v6 apart from it being very slow it also needs a patched kernel. Even the ARM v7 is slow when it gets a VLAR (Very Low Angle Range) work unit but at least it can do them now.

AMD Ryzen
I've asked my usual computer shop to quote on a couple of Ryzen S7 1700 machines to replace the two i7-5820K gas-guzzlers. The parts showed up on the PC Case Gear website yesterday (due for delivery 3/03/2017). I'm looking at two for the moment but given they use a bit less than half of the wattage of my current i7's I could get more AMD machines. I would expect they'll be slower than the i7 but then I get two extra threads so it will probably produce around the same throughput.

Storage Server
I am also looking at updating the file server, or at least its storage capacity. Currently I have an Intel RAID controller in it that provides 4 ports and there are 4 x 4TB drives in there.

SuperMicro have a storage server which is a similar motherboard to what I already have with a built-in SAS controller and another 10 SATA ports on the motherboard provided by an Intel chipset and it comes with 12 (3.5 inch) hot-plug drive bays on the front and another two (2.5 inch) on the back. The bad news is they is they only support Windows Server (2008 or 2012) or RHEL on it.

There are a number of other options such as a SAS expander, another RAID controller, bigger drives and so on that I could use which I will look into.

ZFS on Linux
The file server had me looking at ZFS on Linux. My first attempt was so try and install it on a Pi2 which failed miserably. It downloads the code and you have to compile it. The compile failed for a couple of reasons:
  • Its written with AMD64 architecture in mind
  • You have to get the Linux kernel headers to compile it
The Pi2 and Pi3 are currently ARM (32 bit) architecture. Technically the Pi3 could run ARM64 architecture as it an ARM v8 CPU but the Raspberry Pi foundation don't have it available.

As for the Linux kernel headers one has to get the version from the Raspberry Pi foundation that matches whatever version they are on (mine currently have 4.4.38). That isn't a simple apt-get command, you have to back-track the 4.4.38 version to the git check-in to find it.

My next attempt was to install Debian Stretch onto one of the i7-6700's which sort of worked. It gave some errors at bootup. I guess it doesn't have the necessary drivers for an H170-Pro motherboard. As well as that the beignet-opencl-icd didn't support the HD Graphics 530 that they have so I gave up on that one and reinstalled Win7 on it.

Ubuntu has a pre-compiled one in their repository so you don't have to compile your own, however there is some debate around the licensing of it.

28 January 2017

28th of January

Its still hot here in Sydney. We've had a few cool days where I have managed to run some Einstein or Seti work. The Einstein CPU tasks take about 16 hours so I am tending to run Seti as they're somewhere between 1 and 3 hours depending on the work unit.

I purchased another 5 port USB charger which I am using to power four Raspberry Pi2's. Its an Astrotek brand with a part number of AT-UPS-008B. Provided you only use 4 out of the 5 ports its fine. I have another one running four of the Pi3's. It might actually be able to run five (it reduces power output to each port when you plug in a 5th device) but I haven't tried five.