23 May 2010

3rd week of May

Another fairly quiet week on the farm.

Maul - he's back
Picked up Maul from the shop again. Its his 3rd trip. Got it home and lugged it up into the loft (climbing the ladder is always interesting with a big PC). As you can see from the previous pictures the case is a CoolerMaster HAF 932. Its not exactly light.

The shop replaced the motherboard for a new one. First bootup and it complained about the BIOS settings being invalid. So go and reset everything back the same as the other 4. This gets it booted and running. Previous Windows 7 still on there (fortunately not activated, only 2 days left).

Upgraded BOINC to 6.10.56 and got work and left it to run. A few hours later I noticed it had rebooted. Okay time to wipe it and reinstall. Formated the partitions, and reinstalled Win 7. Reinstall BOINC, copy backup of BOINC directory back onto it and its off and running again. So far its survived a full day crunching. Unfortunately Seti's upload server has gone off-line so can't upload completed work and it refuses to ask for new work (because it can't upload). The backup project on this machine (Einstein) is getting plenty of attention though.

BOINC testing
Well the testing continues. No new version as they are trying to get this one out as the "release" version. As mentioned last week pretty stable, haven't had any cause to complain.

Proxy Server
All the number crunchers communicate to the outside world through a proxy server. I last updated it about 18 months ago. I took the opportunity this weekend to update it to the latest production release. It was only 5 versions behind. Web access seems to be a little faster now too.

16 May 2010

Weekly report

Another week on the farm...

Maul ready to come home (again)
This time the they claim to have replaced the motherboard. The last motherboard was a "refurbished" one. When it gets back we'll see if it makes any difference. Half the city was closed off due to the arrival of Jessica Watson, so I couldn't pick it up this weekend.

BOINC versions
We are up to 6.10.56 this week. It seems that both the Nvidia and ATI drivers stop working if you keep polling them for free GPU ram details, so they've removed the checking from BOINC for now. Other than that it seems to be working fine. I would suspect this one will probably become the next release version.

Its an ACER veriton v7900. It seems to have well and truly died. Another dud motherboard. Still under warranty. So time to pack it back up and get it fixed. A visual inspection of the motherboard indicates that some of the capacitors appear to have cooked.

09 May 2010

May day

Maul back in the shop
It seems he just can't handle things when it gets under CPU load. Interestingly it works quite well running just GPU work, so something screwey with the motherboard. The shop seems to think that ASUS would have swapped the motherboard for a reconditioned one the last time it was in. Hopefully it won't take 2 months this time.

BOINC versions
We are up to 6.10.52 for Windows this week. The developers have been working on the file xfer limits. Unfortunately in its current form not much use to me. My ISP has a concept of peak and off-peak limits. Also i'd need to apply the limits across the entire "farm". I've put it on 2 of the machines and they have been working fine so far.

Obi-Wan returns
Given Maul is back in the shop and Qui-Gon is playing up I dug out another oldie and fired it up. All the quaddies have been sitting around gathering dust, so after reinstalling BOINC and then allowing Windows update to bring it up to date its off and running.

I hope this one lasts better than Qui-Gon, which works for about 2 days then starts beeping and needs 2 days rest before resuming work again. Another screwey motherboard.

02 May 2010

Weekly news

A few things in this weeks update:
  1. New BOINC versions, old one pulled
  2. Maul playing up
  3. Project realignment
  4. AMD releases the Phenom II x6
  5. GTX260 donated

BOINC versions
Bad news first. UCB decided to pull the current release version (6.10.43) due to a work fetch issue. To get the issue you have to be running a project that has a cuda app and your graphics card has less than the required ram (typically 256Mb cards). If you have one then they recommend you go back to 6.10.18. If your graphics card has 512Mb or better then you won't have a problem, so there is no need to do anything.

New version 6.10.50 was released with a bunch of changes and a few broken bits. The notable change they are adding is the ability to set a file transfer quota, and when exceeded it will suspend communications. Unfortunately the enable/disable comms options are now broken, but they are aware of the problem. In fact they have already released an updated Mac version. We're still waiting on a Windows build.

Maul playing up
Well it came back with much fanfare, but hasn't really behaved since. Firstly the shop hasn't got the case wiring correct and the power button is no longer illuminated and the PC speaker no longer works. These are just an annoyance rather than an issue. The main problem is it keeps locking up when using all 3 graphics cards. I suspect its a BIOS issue and the P6T cannot cope with 3 GPU's going at once. At the moment i've removed the load from GPU3 (which is in the PCIe x4 slot) and will see how it goes. BOINC is only using 2 GPU's for now.

Project realignment
After a bit of experimenting with running the GPUgrid work on the GT240 cards in Maul I've decided they are way too slow (about 10 hours a wu). So i've set Maul to just run Seti and Einstein work. The other machines with the more capable cards are concentrating on GPUgrid work.

Orbit would appear to be generating some beta-test work units while they sort out a new app. Once thats done they are expecting to generate real work. Its taken some years to get to this point, so i'm not holding my breath.

AMD releases Phenom II x6
While its somewhat behind Intel, the AMD doesn't do hyper-threading, so each core is an actual cpu. The release in itself this isn't significant, other than it may convince Intel to drop its prices for the i7 980x.

GTX260 donated
I've donated one of Maul's old GTX260 cards to one of the developers of the optimised apps for Seti@home. Most of the guys don't have a high-end card so cannot test their optimisations without help from others. I am hoping this will allow for more optimisation of their cuda app.