31 July 2010

31st of July

I passed 20 million for GPUgrid this week. Below is my certificate.

Seti cuda app testing
I've been beta-testing a revised Seti cuda application on various machines, that have different graphics cards. There are both cuda 3.0 and 3.1 versions. I ran the cuda 3.1 version on a GTS250, GT240 and the new GTX460 card. All worked fine for me and were an improvement on the older app run time.

There have been reports of problems with mismatched graphics cards and Jason G has been trying to improve that area of the application. I expect a revised version for retesting.

I'm looking at a Drobo for some additional storage. They are basically an external hard drive box. However unlike a normal external drive some versions hold up to 5 drives. You can mix drives and capacities and it handles the data redundancy by itself. They seem to be around $550 for the USB and $950 (prices in AUD) for the ethernet version with no drives. This seems a much simpler solution to adding storage capacity without having to build your own RAID array.

25 July 2010


There are a few varieties of the GTX460. The main difference is in the memory sub-system. The 768Mb cards have a 192 bit memory controller and the 1Gb cards have a 256 bit memory controller. The other difference is in the cooling system. Evga has a couple of cards designated as EE (external exhaust), meaning they blow the air down the length of the card and out the back.

This one is an evga 768-P3-1362 model, which is one of the 768Mb cards but factory overclocked. From looking at the stats from GPU-Z it seems the memory controller isn't being stressed much by the GPUgrid app. It hovers between 15 and 17% use. Temps are being reported as being 50 degrees C under load, so fairly cool when compared with the GTX2xx cards.

As mentioned in the previous post it seems most software doesn't understand it has 336 cuda cores. They think it has 224 and therefore its under utilised. Even GPU-Z 0.4.4 reports it as having 224.

It was straight out of the box, take a few photos and then off to work. I swapped out the GTX275 from Spock as its the nearest equivilent card I have. Installed the driver and we're off and running.

GPU: Nvidia GF104 running at 763 MHz, 336 CUDA Cores, 400 MHz RAMDAC
Memory: 768 MB, 192 bit GDDR5 3800 MHz (effective) 91.2 GB/s Memory Bandwidth
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16 DVI-I, DVI-I, Mini-HDMI
Dimensions: Height 111mm x Length 210mm

The box

Lying down

Connector end
Showing the dual DVI plugs, a mini-HDMI and you can see some of the heatsink.

Power connectors
The other end. You can see the 6 pin PCIe power connectors. Its rated at 150 watts max power use.

25th of July

None reached this week, but GPUgrid isn't far off one.

BOINC versions
We have the 6.11 family at the moment. 6.11.3 being the latest. Changes to the manager include a new Notices tab and the Messages tab has been removed. The messages have been relabelled as an Event log and open in a new window. The tasks tab columns have been rearranged.

Like anything new its causing some people angst, but I think its better. They will be adding RSS feeds into the Notices tab. Its still a work in progress.

Well I got one of these. There are a few varieties of them. I will do a seperate blog post for this with some pictures.

GPUgrid science app
The guys from GPUgrid had a few problems with their app not working
a) for cuda 3.1
b) the GTX460

They have worked around the cuda bug and it will run with the GTX460's now. Performance is disappointing as it doesn't use all the cuda cores, but they will be addressing that after their summer break.

17 July 2010

17th of July

I managed to hit 4 million credits for Einstein during the week. GPUgrid is coming up on another milestone too, but I will mention it when I get there.

Seti Limits
It appears the guys at Seti added limits on the number of tasks that can be distributed. This is so they don't overload their sever when the project comes up after a outage. They are currently having 3 day scheduled outages per week. They slowly increase the limits as the demand for work drops off. This way it allows all users a chance to get some work immediately following the outage.

GTX460 release
The long awaited GTX460 based on the GF104 was released last week. As expected the guys at GPUgrid are usually the 1st to rush out and get one. They are currently tweaking their science apps to work with it.

I was waiting for them and have ordered a Factory OC'ed one. Initial reports are promising about performance. They are also faily reasonably priced. The entry-level cards are around $200 USD.

BOINC versions
6.11 versions are now out for testing. Not sure whats in it as there hasn't been any mention of it in the mailing list. I'm still running 6.10.58 on my machines.

03 July 2010

2nd of July

Again no milestones reached this week. Crunching continues as normal.

Seti outage
Well the scheduled 3 day outage is over and we survived. There is still much angst over in the forums. This coupled with work fetch issues that have recently been intoduced by the latest incarnation of BOINC, which was being tested over at Seti beta, but suddenly got implemented on the main project. I'm sure Dr Anderson will have it sorted out in due course.

At the moment all the machines are on surge protected power boards. I've ordered a 700VA UPS to go onto the file server.

Network Reconfiguring
While I was at things today (applying windows updates on all the machines) I decided to try wiring up the network a bit differently.

All the number crunchers have 1Gbit LAN connections which then plug into a "Green" (ie low power) 1Gbit switch. After that it was going via the file server and then off to the router. Now the 1Gbit switch is plugged directly into the router. I'm hoping this will improve the comms speed.

GF104 due for release in July
Supposedly the official release date for the GF104 based Fermi cards is the 12th of July.

There are to be (initially) 2 versions. Both have 336 cuda cores. The reference design card having 768Mb RAM and a 192 bit memory interface. The other is a "nvidia partner" version having 1Gb RAM and a 256 bit memory interface. Expected power use is 150 watts for the reference design and 160 watts for the other version.

I would hope to try a "nvidia partner" version fairly soon after they are released. Rumour has it they have apparently killed off the GF100. Its being replaced by the GF104.