Project Update – GPU Tests

If you have just landed here on this post please take 5 minutes to read about the World Community Grid, BOINC, and My Project so you get the idea of what I am trying to do. Don’t have time? well In a nutshell I’m using my PC to help scientists map cancer markers, fight AIDS, study clean energy solutions and uncover genome mysteries. Once I get it running perfectly and with as minimal energy use as possible I’m going to remove it from the electricity grid and power it with renewable energy be this solar, wind or by another device of my making. This is a back dated post for a step by step walk through of what I’ve been doing with my project. I tend to forget to post updates so need to recap everything so far.

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GPU Tests

So with everything running how I wanted it to, although more expensive than I originally thought I began testing with a very old PC to see what I could remove or alter to reduce energy cost on mine. I work on old PCs in the room next to our loft which is also an overspill for storage. It was only then that I saw the box for Mrs Nangs PC, I took a quick look and that’s when I found out that her PC had a GTX 560 Ti a much more powerful GPU than my GT545.

So with her PC at her mothers I needed to get it back and do some tests. Fortunately It had been 6 months since I last checked the drivers and cleaned out the inside, heat sink and fan so it wasn’t a problem. I did all that I was supposed to do and then installed BOINC using the exact same settings as my PC. Everything worked fine straight off the bat, but her GPU was like it was on steroids. I thought it would be better but not by such a huge margin.

The GT545 was running a work unit in around 40 minutes give or take a few seconds. The GTX560Ti was doing them in 8-9 minutes. So I set Mrs Nangs PC up for a 24hr electricity test like I had done with mine. When I came back to check the next day I was pretty shocked the PC had averaged 320W per hour. Or €20.21 average per month. Not good.

But then something strange happened. For each result returned to SETI and WCGrid you get points and there are a whole host of sites you can check to see your rank in each project, across the entire BOINC network, Compared to other users from your country and so on. And I kind of began to fixate on the points. I wanted to get my points as high as possible as quick as possible. I’m a pretty competitive person so I blame that for my irrational thinking. I was wilfully breaking my own rules dum dum daaah which was naughty.

I ran like this for a week or so but finally came to my senses, I have a specific goal set out and I need to stick to the rules. Otherwise I may as well go out and buy every cheap ex gaming PC with an i7 processor that regularly pop up for sale when people upgrade. Would be great for the points but I would need 2 jobs to pay the electricity bill.

So with that I set BOINC to receive no new tasks on Mrs Nangs PC and let it run off the work units already downloaded (remember never let down your Wingman).

I also paused SETI tasks on my PC to see what the electricity usage was for the GT545. Running the CPU and GT545 was pulling an average of 172W per hour. After stopping the GPU tasks that dropped to 119W per hour. I made the decision that running an inefficient GPU was not worth the energy draw and as such have completed my last SETI work units until such time as I can purchase an MSI GTX 750Ti 2GB Gaming GPU it runs at the same wattage as the GT545 but performs better than the GTX 560Ti.

As much as I would love to find ET for SETI, the WCGrid and my project will always take priority over SETI. I consider the work WCGrid do and the research they run incredibly important to our future as a species (The clean energy project alone could drastically change our world) and if my financial situation was different I would run as many PCs as I could to help. Maybe in the future with a little bit of hard work and some good ideas I will be able to do that.

Sorry SETI@Home :(

Project Update – First Test

If you have just landed here on this post please take 5 minutes to read about the World Community Grid, BOINC, and My Project so you get the idea of what I am trying to do. Don’t have time? well In a nutshell I’m using my PC to help scientists map cancer markers, fight AIDS, study clean energy solutions and uncover genome mysteries. Once I get it running perfectly and with as minimal energy use as possible I’m going to remove it from the electricity grid and power it with renewable energy be this solar, wind or by another device of my making. This is a back dated post for a step by step walk through of what I’ve been doing with my project. I tend to forget to post updates so need to recap everything so far.

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First Test

This was relatively simple I had to measure how much power the PC was drawing over a 24 hour period whilst it ran WCGrid and SETI at full load (7 threads running WCGrid at 100% and one thread dedicated to the GT 545 running SETI at 100%)

To do this I simply used a meter that plugs into the wall and then you plug what you want to test into the meter. They are a tad expensive so ask around and see if someone has one first if you want to do the same. Luckily my father in law has all sorts of stuff tucked away and he had one I could use.

It’s a good meter and very accurate, you can install your day and night time electricity tariff into it (if you have that) so it also comes up with a price for the electricity you have used during your test. I’ve become slightly obsessed with it and plug everything in to see how much things cost to run. Tumble Dryers are the devil, I knew they used a lot but lord almighty that simply isn’t cricket!

Once I had WCGrid and SETI running at full whack, I simply started the meter running and set my alarm for the next day.

I did monitor processor temperature with Intels overclocking software and the GPU temperature with GPU-z software. I’m not going to provide links to them as I’ve found better ones specifically designed for the BOINC client which do a lot more and include safety features that finally enabled Mrs Nang to relent and let me run the PC 24/7. I will get to them in a few posts time.

The results were good and bad, good because I thought it would need a lot more power to run it than it actually did which was 172W per hour, bad because when I looked at the cost price for 24 hours, did a little maths and realised that I was waaaay off my €5 per month budget and in fact running at €10.86 per month (or so I thought more on electricity prices in a further post be warned it will be a rant!!)

As such €10.86 is bad and “rules is rules” so my following posts go over how I have begun addressing this to lessen my PCs energy usage without affecting the 24 hour running of my primary project the WCGrid.