08 April 2018

8th of April

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off

Nvidia GPUs
All off

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work


Other news
This last fortnight has been all about the Raspberry Pis. Its still too hot to be running the other machines so I have been concentrating on the little ones.

First off was the arrival of the 11 Pi3 model B+ and swapping out the Pi3 model B’s. First problem was a lack of heatsinks. I put as many into service as I could (5 of them) and ordered more heatsinks. Once heatsinks arrived I then decided I would use new SD cards rather than reusing the ones from the older Pis. A trip to the shops fixed that. Then a late night imaging a bunch of SD cards and firing up each Pi3B+ and installing the software.

Because I now had a bunch of spare Pi3 model B’s I decided I would use one of them as a NFS server in conjunction with the PiDrive that wasn’t doing anything. That made life a lot easier as I can now just copy various config files from it into the appropriate directories instead of what I used to do (manually edit file and cut and paste). I know I tried setting up an NFS server a couple of years ago but it wasn’t reliable. This time it seems a lot better.

At the moment I have upgraded 9 out of 10 number compute nodes and one support node. I have one more compute node left to swap over that is finishing off the work it has which takes around 11 hours.

I looked at the 3rd Pi^4 case that I had and thought why not put the two other compute nodes, currently in official Pi cases, into the Pi^4 case and get another two Pis. And while I am at it lets replace the Pi3B that is running the NFS with a 3B+ as well. I can feel the need to order more parts.

I broke a stand-off in one of the Pi^4 cases due to the screw holding the Pi3B in getting stuck. The head of the screw was stripped so the screwdriver couldn’t get a grip. In the end I had to deliberately break it to get the old Pi out. The M2.5 screws are so tiny and the metal isn’t hard so its easy to strip the head on them. I took half an hour just to get the piece of stand off and screw separated. Needless to say that screw got thrown away. I will have to glue the stand-off into the case now.


HT Condor
I have been using the freed-up Pi3B’s to experiment a bit with HT Condor. Its the software they run on a real cluster for scheduling batch jobs and its available in the Raspbian and Debian repositories. The HT stands for High Throughput. All was going fine until I enabled the firewall. After that I can’t get the components to talk to each other so I am trying to resolve that.

A number of compute clusters run HT Condor and have BOINC as a backfill task, that is if the cluster doesn’t have anything else to run it will start up a single instance of BOINC for each available core on each compute node. I don’t think thats going to work too well with the Pis due to the lack of memory however it should work on the larger machines which don’t have the memory constraints.

17 March 2018

17th of March

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off

Nvidia GPUs
All off.  Ran Einstein gravity wave work during the last week

Raspberry Pis
The ones with fans running Einstein BRP4 work


Debian point release
Stretch had a point release 9.4 so a few updates came out of it, plus various security fixes during the week. Raspbian followed the day after with the same fixes but also updated firmware to support the new Pi.


New Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi foundation released a new Pi called the Pi 3 model B+. It has a faster CPU (1.4GHz now), the same memory (1GB of DDR2) and better WiFi and networking. I promptly ordered 11 to replace my current farm before the distributor ran out of stock. They arrived yesterday.

I have swapped out four Pi3 crunchers and the support Pi3 already with Pi3B+ models. I only had 5 spare copper heatsinks so I need to order more.

I also got another 5 port USB charger which I use to power the Pis. It turns out its only rated to supply 3 x 2 amp plus 2 x 1 amp even though I have one running 4 Pi3’s in a Pi^4 (Pi to the power of four) case plus the fans. I might need another charger or two.


Pi^4 case
I have two more Pi^4 cases that are waiting on some M2.5 screws which I had to order off eBay. They are coming from China and take up to 30 days to arrive. I couldn’t find any in the local electronics parts stores or hobby shops.

To make it a bit safer I also have some chrome fan grills on the way but they aren’t holding up the build. Just don’t stick your fingers in the fan. The 60mm fans hurt.

Photos of the Mk I case coming soon - once the screws arrive.

04 March 2018

4th of March

Farm status
Intel GPUs
One running. The rest off.

Nvidia GPUs
Two running the rest off

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work


Einstein O2 gravity wave tuning
Weather goes from hot to cool, so in the cool times almost all the farm runs Einstein gravity wave tuning run work. Their first tuning run for the O2 (Observation run 2) had problems so we’re doing it again. They had to issue new apps and new data files.

I find the Ryzen’s aren’t too good at hyper threading this app so I only run 8 at a time. If I run 16 at a time their run time doubles. The Intel machines however are better so I use all available threads on them.


Other news
I still haven’t got the other 5 i7-8700’s assembled yet, still waiting on my PC assembler to return from holidays.

Another annoying thing is Intel have stopped updating Beignet which provides OpenCL capability to their iGPUs. They apparently had open source drivers (Beignet) and closed sources ones. They have now decided to have one set of open source drivers called Neo. Unfortunately it could take a long time before they become available in Debian repositories.


BOINC testing
BOINC 7.9.2 has made it all the way up to stretch-backports in Debian. Its also available via locutusofborg’s ppa for Ubuntu and of course from the BOINC download all page. This updates a few things and looks like it might have fixed one annoying bug with the Manager Tasks tab. It still has a problem with the event log losing its time format. This version is to support Science United.

18 February 2018

18th of February

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off.

Nvidia GPUs
All off

Raspberry Pis
Six with fans running Einstein BRP4 work


Other news
Doing more Einstein Gravity wave O2 tuning run work. This time its the i7-8700 and a couple of the Ryzen’s. The Ryzen’s seem to take quite a long time with them at the higher frequencies, even when running on half the available cores.

I did software updates on all the Pis, however one of them threw seg faults after rebooting. I reimaged the SD card but it was horribly slow. I assumed that meant the SD card was stuffed and reimaged a new one and reinstalled everything. Speeds are much quicker now which seems to confirm my diagnosis.

I had to go over to North Ryde to pickup the parts for the 5 new i7-8700’s. They are currently awaiting assembly. I am hoping my PC assembler will be available soon so I can get them going, especially with the Einstein gravity wave tuning run finishing in a week or so and the actual processing run starting. The hot weather isn’t helping either.