25 April 2012

ANZAC day 2012

Today is ANZAC day. the term ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. Its a day where we remember the sacrifices made by defence personel since the forming of the ANZAC force in World War I. Its like Remembrance day in the UK.

Other SSD installed
As I mentioned in my previous post I got a couple of Intel SSD's. One was installed in the i7-950 machine and the other I installed this week in the i7-970 machine. Installation was painless this time and it just worked out of the box.

CPU upgrade on the way
I have purchased (via eBay) another i7-970 chip. This will be used to replace an i7-920 in one of the other machines. Once I get it I will get a second Corsair H80 cooler installed by the shop at the same time.

Today I spent a bit of time getting it ready. I already have spare memory so the machine was updated to 12Gb of RAM. While I was at it I flashed the BIOS to the latest one. It had a GTX570 in it but I have swapped it out in favor of a GTX560Ti (which I also had spare). The GTX570 will be listed on eBay soon, it hasn't had much use so no point keeping it.

CPDN woes
They have had 2 of their upload servers fail with hard disk errors. I have a number of completed work units which cannot upload, along with most other users.

I have made a donation which I hope they will use to replace some hard disks. I would encourage anyone who also does CPDN work to make a donation if they can. The link to their donation page is hard to find (I had to ask where it was in one of their message boards). It is: http://climateprediction.net/content/donations

Coupled with this, or maybe as a result of, they have released 65,000 hapam3p_pnw (Pacific North West regional) work units.

21 April 2012

21st of April

This week I did a couple of upgrades. The most notable one was this thing. This is the Corsair H80 liquid cooling solution. The i7-970 was running rather warm and even with a 120mm CoolerMaster heatsink it wasn't coping very well.

In the kit you get a couple of Corsair 120mm fans, the radiator, tubing and cold plate. Its a closed-loop system so the radiator, tubing and cold plate are already connected and filled with coolant. All you need to do is install them and the fans.

This is looking at the back of the machine. We've used Noctua fans instead of the Corsair ones. They move more air, last longer and are quieter.

Here is another picture showing the radiator at 38mm thickness, plus the 2 fans at 25mm each.

And here is another photo looking towards the back of the case.

And lastly some stats from SIV showing it peaking at about 58 degrees C under load. Previously it was peaking around 70-72 degrees.

The other upgrade was replacing the OCZ SSD (which was only 64Gb) with an Intel 520 series one thats is 120Gb. Its in the i7-950 machine. After a bit of stuffing around with a Sata cable that wasn't quite plugged in and the DVD reader disappearing as a result I went to do a firmware update, but it turns out its already up to date. They give you a "data migration tool" which is a version of Acronis to copy your existing data across. I ran that and then removed the old SSD. There is also a "tuning kit" that disables a number of things such as the indexing service and Defrag. You have to download the software from the Intel web site.

I did some fiddling with the memory settings on the i7-970 during the week as well. With the help of Red-Ray on the Seti forums (author of SIV) I managed to get it running at 1600Mhz. Unfortunately it seems the 12 core Gulftown memory controllers are somewhat slower than the Bloomfield ones. The Gulftown i7-970 was getting around 10,000 MB/Sec at idle. The older Bloomfield i7-920's are able to get around 15,000 MB/Sec.

I have another Intel SSD to install in the i7-970 machine, but seeing as it got the H80 installed this weekend I figured it can wait a few days before I touch it again.

14 April 2012

14th of April

I managed to get to 53 million for GPUgrid and both Einstein and Seti are coming up on 12 million. Below are my BOINCstats numbers.


12 cores finally working
On a whim I decided to fire up the 12 core machine and update it. That took a few hours installing windows updates, latest drivers and then BOINC. Its been powered off for the last 6 months. It still didn't work. It passes memory tests but as soon as you try and use it for number crunching it complains of memory errors. So I powered it off and went to bed. Around midnight I had an idea so started it up and went into the BIOS and set the memory speed to 1066 and let it download a single Einstein work unit. It started running so I let it go for a couple of minutes. Still going, so that looks like its working (they usually fail straight away). I allowed it to get a full 12 work units and went back to bed. In the morning they are all done and without error.

Comparing some run times it seems its slightly slower than the other machines. This is an i7-970 so its running at 3.2Ghz and the others I was comparing with are i7-920's which run at 2.67Ghz. The only difference is the memory speed. The i7-920's are all running their memory at 1600Mhz, but this one can only run at 1066Mhz. Anyway at least its going and I may fiddle with the settings later. I might just get an unlocked i7 (980x or 990x) for it so I can run the memory at its rated speed.

BOINC testing
7.0.25 became the latest "recommended" version earlier in the week. The main differences are:
  • Support virtual machines using VirtualBox
  • Support for OpenCL scheduling (ATI and Nvidia)
  • Support for 'distributed storage' projects (there are none at the moment)
The scheduler has been rewritten so that it will better share resources across projects if you run multiple projects.

GPU Users Group news
The 10 hot-swap hard drive fund raiser was finished off and the drives have been delivered to Seti at home. They also asked for a JBOD card so they could try and connect one of the existing servers to the JBOD. That too has been delivered.

We are waiting on news of another fund raiser, which should be targetting bandwidth improvements, but still need the approval of the project staff before this can proceed.

08 April 2012

8th of March (Easter long weekend)

BOINC testing
We got 7.0.25 which is soon to become the release version. Not much changed since last week when we had .23 for testing. The only hold up I am led to believe is the documentation needs to be updated before they can officially release it.

Farm news
The farm has been fairly quiet this week. I have had one of the quaddies (the only one I currently use now) running most of the week. Its been concentrating on Seti work. In between that I have had a couple of the i7's going. One has been concentrating on Seti and the other sharing between Climate Prediction, Einstein and GPUgrid.

I passed 52 million for GPUgrid last week. Due to the warmer weather its rather slow going at the moment.

GPUUG news
They are still running a fund raiser for 10 spare 2Tb hard disk drives. I made a donation that should cover 3 of the 10 drives. We still need some other people to finish it off.

In the mean time they have provided a couple of Shuttle workstations for Seti as their existing workstations have failed. Along with that they have asked for some keyboards and mice.

Project news - GPUgrid
They have had another GTX680 donated. They are currently testing a Cuda 4.2 app for Linux and then expect to have a Windows one available some time next week. They are hoping this will make the 680 perform better (using the current apps its actually worse than a GTX580).

Project news - Seti
They have installed the new servers and JBOD into the racks. They are in the process of swapping functions over. They hit a snag when one of the existing servers was unable to plug into the JBOD as it has a proprietry plug.

Hopefully we'll see the new download server in action soon and the two existing ones can be retired (one is faulty). What effect this will have on downloads will be interesting to see.