AGP card unburden CPU to increase crunching?

W9FZ
W9FZ
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Topic 189188

My involvement with E@H is furthering my computer hobby on several levels. I've never built up my own machine before from scratch, but now is the time. (Ok, not scratch--from components :-) ) The goal is to gain crunching machines for minimal cost.

I've got two ASUS motherboards coming from ebay. One AMD XP 3000 chip is on the way and I need to buy another chip. I've got Power Supplies and drives here and memory is on the way. The ASUS MB's come with on-board video. Yet they have an AGP slot for "better" video. At my local computer surplus store, they have garden variety AGP cards used for $10 each.

I intend for these machines to ONLY crunch for E@H. I'll have no need for video and will only check on them via a KVM.

Question: For increased crunching performance, is it worth it to buy $10 AGP cards to unload the "onboard" video so that the AMD XP can crunch "better"???

Question: Is crunching performance (or RAC for that matter) effected by whether I put 256MB or 512MB of RAM in these babies? Again, they'll be used for no other purposes.

Thanks!

Bruce W9FZ
Team Richwood Timber LLC

When the going gets weird, the weird turn PRO. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Paul D. Buck
Paul D. Buck
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AGP card unburden CPU to increase crunching?

My involvement with E@H is furthering my computer hobby on several levels. I've never built up my own machine before from scratch, but now is the time. (Ok, not scratch--from components :-) ) The goal is to gain crunching machines for minimal cost.

I've got two ASUS motherboards coming from ebay. One AMD XP 3000 chip is on the way and I need to buy another chip. I've got Power Supplies and drives here and memory is on the way. The ASUS MB's come with on-board video. Yet they have an AGP slot for "better" video. At my local computer surplus store, they have garden variety AGP cards used for $10 each.

I intend for these machines to ONLY crunch for E@H. I'll have no need for video and will only check on them via a KVM.

Question: For increased crunching performance, is it worth it to buy $10 AGP cards to unload the "onboard" video so that the AMD XP can crunch "better"???

Question: Is crunching performance (or RAC for that matter) effected by whether I put 256MB or 512MB of RAM in these babies? Again, they'll be used for no other purposes.

Thanks!

Bruce W9FZ
Team Richwood Timber LLC If the onboard video uses main memory for its buffer, yes, it is better to have the cheap video cards.

For RAM, 512 is better. I usually now buy 1G for RAM and run all 5 projects and use suspend in RAM. With the cost of RAM so low it is not that much more expensive. But, 512 is fine for most purposes and likely will not make any differrence in processing time with RAM size above 512.

The biggest discriminators are the speed of the CPU, cache design and bandwidth, and the bandwidth of the MB's memory system.

If you got good cases, you can keep this up for a few years, upping the speed of the system with MB and CPU changes.

God luck!

ragnar schroder
ragnar schroder
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... If you got good cases

Message 11697 in response to message 11696

...

If you got good cases ...
God luck!

Maybe in the long run it would be less expensive to put the MoBos etc directly into som kind of rack? That way there would be no need for a separate box for each system.
Maybe there's even a way for 2 MoBos to share one power supply?

If several MoBos could share one casing, PS, NIC, HD, etc I guess savings would be substantial.

Any good links or experience as to how to build such systems, anyone?

Greetings, Mr. Ragnar Schroder

W9FZ
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I'm glad you ask this and I

Message 11698 in response to message 11697

I'm glad you ask this and I hope we get some interesting replies.

First, thanks Paul for your reply. I need to research whether these ASUS mobos onboard video use main memory for its buffer or not. Yes, I'll go with 512 RAM--possibly larger. I agree that memory has become relatively cheap compared to the past. Secondly, you can tell I'm trying to find a reasonable (for me) pricepoint on capability vs cost. Based on how well my one AMD machine plays with a 2100, I thought I would continue (for the time being) with AMD (vice P4/2.8's). Scanning ebay, there seems to be reasonable prices on the 3000 and 3200 chips.

Now to Ragnar's question: Not sure what message board it was on, but I once saw some neat open stacks of mobo's of guys who had built crunching farms. I thought it looked cool. (If someone has the link, please repost it here) In most of the cases, the guys were overclocking so several used ported airconditioned air in hoses dumping out on the processors. (I don't intend to overclock :-) )

I like 19" racks. I think they look cool and make me feel like I'm playing like the big boys. Sure, if I was rich, I'd keep buying new 1U servers. ATX boxes don't seem to rack mount very easily. So I was laying out the required pieces on the floor looking at different footprints to build my own aluminum boxes.

Ya know, initially, I was going to include a CD player with each one for the primary purpose of loading the operating system. But I think I could dispense with that. Just hook it up for the intitial load and then disconnect it.

With an ATX mobo and a basic 350W power supply, there was no way to have the PS laying down with the fan facing aft and still have it sidebyside with the ATX mobo and fit in a 19" rack (which allows about 17.5"). So if I stood the PS on its side with the fan still facing aft, I could fit it sidebyside with the mobo. But that height dimension now sets the minimum height for the box.

Yes, I'm thinking of building my own boxes out of aluminum sheet and L channel.

My family has a basement that stays cool and needs dehumidifying in the Summer. The heat from a rack of computers should raise the temperature of the basement and lower the relative humidity. The dehumidifier won't have to work as hard. I know, it's all electricity. But my team is glad to donate electricity and resources for this project--we are motivated by it.

I look forward to others ideas on minimum size boxes for a single set-up as well as others ideas for multi-board farms--either open or enclosed. If this has already been hashed out before, please drop in some links to the germane threads. Thanks.

Bruce W9FZ
Team Richwood Timber LLC

When the going gets weird, the weird turn PRO. -- Hunter S. Thompson

W9FZ
W9FZ
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The web is amazing: Here

Message 11699 in response to message 11698

The web is amazing:

Here are some links that may be helpful to me (and you):

Setting up a Distributed computing farm http://www.nelliott.demon.co.uk/distributed/

Found a funny thread of You know you're a Distributed Computing Freak if It was a hoot and I don't feel so bad now. I guess there have been many down this road before me :-)

one guy's Seti farm With many pictures of other folks farms. Interesting!

Ok, some of the sources I've found are for seti and folding. Are there folks einsteining with diskless systems? Or other advanced options?

Richwood Timber LLC

When the going gets weird, the weird turn PRO. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Bones
Bones
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Instead of putting in the agp

Instead of putting in the agp cards, would it be better to simply ensure the screensaver is simply turned off (or blank screen?) since the boinc screensaver for each project is what would produce more cpu workload. Just a thought, maybe I'm wrong, I haven't compared the difference with screensaver on and off.

Bones

Ageless
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No Bones, it doesn't matter

No Bones, it doesn't matter if you use the screensaver or not, it's the onboard videochip that always takes memory away from the main memory. If he puts an AGP or PCI videocard in the motherboard, he's freeing up main RAM that can be used for the project.

These videochips can take up to 64MB (these days more, I bet) of the main memory, so a 256MB system would have only got 192MB of main memory for use of Windows and any applications on there.

Bones
Bones
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Thanks for that info Ageless,

Thanks for that info Ageless, I have been looking at on-board video mobo for crunching as well, but will take this into account as well.

SunRedRX7
SunRedRX7
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Depending on the motherboard,

Depending on the motherboard, you should be able to set the onboard video card to only steal 32mb or lower memory from the main system memory.

My Nforce2 mobo with onboard memory at work I can drop it all the way down to 8MB if I wanted to(I leave it at 32MB). With 512MB of memory this still leaves me with 480mb of memory which works just fine, even with running 5 projects and leaving them all in memory and actually using the computer still.

So I wouldn't bother with an add in video card just to keep your systems as simple as possible. Chances are you'll be able to have everything on the motherboard, so if you are building your own cases for these crunchers, you wouldn't have to worry about making a PCI/AGP card mounting part for them. The highest component on the motherboard would just end up being the heatsink/fan for the CPU.

W9FZ
W9FZ
Joined: 9 Mar 05
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Yes, you anticipate some of

Message 11704 in response to message 11703

Yes, you anticipate some of my concerns: Namely simplicity and small footprint. I did not know there was a way to control memory usage by onboard video chipsets. If you can, please elaborate where I'd find the controls for that.

I intend to only run Einstein and will have 512MB for memory. While I'm not going diskless, I'm leaning towards the no mouse/no keyboard and using VNC to control them.

Further, I'll be using ASUS A7N8X-E mobo's which have onboard video. If anyone has some suggestions on tweaks, send them along.

Bruce W9FZ

Richwood Timber LLC

When the going gets weird, the weird turn PRO. -- Hunter S. Thompson

KWSN - MajorKong
KWSN - MajorKong
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Bruce, One thing to

Bruce,

One thing to consider about on-board 'integrated' video, in addition to it taking away RAM from the CPU's use, is that it also slows down the CPU's RAM access. In every instance I have seen, the video controller has to share a single bus with the CPU. While the video controller is accessing the motherboard's RAM, the CPU has to wait if it needs to access the RAM as well. The net effect can be quite noticable. My wife's AMD AthlonXP 2400+ (2.0 GHz) (with on-board video) is between 20% and 25% slower than my AMD AthlonXP 1800+ (1.533 GHz) (with a cheap AGP video card), depending on the project. I don't run E@H on the wife's computer, but using CPDN as an example, my 1800+ gets 4.43 seconds/time step, while her 2400+ takes 5.49 seconds/time step. The integrated video on her system causes, as you can see, QUITE a hit in processing time.

I would recommend using the cheap AGP card as video. But, in any case, good luck with your project.


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