18 September 2016

18th of September

Farm Status
Intel GPUs
Running Seti work overnight

Nvidia GPUs
Off

Raspberry Pis
Running Einstein BRP4 work


Rpi news
One of the users over at Einstein has optimised the BRP4 app to run in almost half the time that the project supplied app does the same work. Its for the Pi3 only.

Since the 3rd of September I have noticed tasks on all the Pi3's were taking longer. Some updates in Debian Stretch seem to have made them take 63k seconds instead of 42k seconds. I am now in the process of going back to Jessie-Lite and then putting the optimised app on them. The optimised app reduces the time by almost half depending on which of the two flavours you run. There is one using an In-place FFT that uses less memory (approx. 137Mb per task) and takes around 24k seconds. There is also an Out-of-place FFT version that uses more memory (approx. 201Mb per task) and takes around 21k seconds. As I don't run a GUI on them I can just squeeze 4 of the out-of-place into the 1Gb memory that the Pi3 has.

I tried putting the optimised app on Pi #9 and it kept locking up. Strangely enough if I upgrade to Stretch it works, but tasks take about 30k seconds. I think this Pi3 is faulty as it had some issues when I first got it. It seems okay to run the project supplied app so I will just leave it running that for the moment. I have updated #1 and #2 which seem to be working fine. The remainder of the Pi's are running down their cache so I can put the optimised app on them.


Cleaning
As the Intel GPU machines have been running pretty constantly I did a round of cleaning dust filters. I have four of the older model Fractal design ARC Midi cases where you have to remove the entire front panel to clean the dust filter. The newer ones have a clip-on filter which is much easier to remove. I found one had a dead fan. I didn't have a spare 140mm fan so I took the rear fan off and swapped it to the front and put a Noctua 120mm fan on the back. It looks like I might need to buy some spare 140mm fans as replacements.

30 August 2016

30th of August

Farm status
Intel GPUs
Running Seti overnight. Three running off CPDN tasks

Nvidia GPUs
Running Seti overnight on two machines.

Raspberry Pis
Running Einstein BRP4 work


Other farm news
The two machines with the mATX motherboards have now been transplanted from mATX cases into ATX cases which allows for a 2nd GPU to be installed later. If the rumours are correct Nvidia is expected to announce availability of the GTX 1050 in September.

The weather has warmed up so I am now running machines overnight even though winter hasn't officially ended.

Some of the Intel GPU machines have been running Weather at Home 2 climate models which have been taking as long as 220 hours depending on the region that the work unit covers. I still have a few left to complete before I can apply updates to the machines. CPDN work units usually don't like being interrupted so I try and finish off any that are running before applying updates.


Einstein Intel OpenCL testing
Einstein got some information from Intel regarding their OpenCL not working and have adjusted some tolerances in their validator. Intel were saying that their implementation of fused multiply-add instructions were more accurate than before.

I ran a batch of OpenCL tasks on two machines using the Intel GPU with mixed results. Some work unit types (BRP4) mostly validated and some (BRP6) all failed to validate. The BRP6's were taking around 8 hours each work unit to process. One of the machines fetched way too much work which I ended up having to abort after a few days of running in high priority mode.


Farm configuration
The Intel GPU part of the farm consist of 8 machines with i7-6700 CPU's and HD Graphics 530 built-in.

There are 4 Nvidia GPU machines. Two of them have i7-5820K CPU's with a pair of GTX750Ti cards. The other two have i3-6100T CPU's with a single GTX970 each.

There are 9 Raspberry Pi3's.

20 August 2016

20th of August

Farm status
Intel GPUs
Half running Seti and the other half running both CPDN and Seti

Nvidia GPUs
Two off at the shop

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work


Farm updates
The two new dedicated GPU crunchers are in the shop. They are going from a Fractal Designs ARC Mini (mATX) case to an ARC Midi (ATX) case. That should allow me to use the bottom PCIe slot in them without hitting the power supply. I looked at getting the Asus Z170 Pro motherboard but only the gaming version seems to be available so I took the cheaper option and went with moving the existing mATX motherboards into a bigger case.

While dropping the two GPU crunchers off at the shop this morning I picked up the remaining i7-6700 which has now been setup. Its running a bit of each project to get some numbers up. I will switch it over to Seti once it finishes off its Einstein work. This brings the Intel GPU part of the cluster up to 8 machines.

While this is going on there are a bunch of updates for the Raspberry Pi's so I am backing them up and then updating. The updates don't take too long but backing up the SD card takes a while.


Future upgrades
As I mentioned in my last post I am awaiting some movement in the GPU crunching space and for AMD to see what they've got available, A couple of interesting messages threads I've been reading lately regarding a 40 core CPU cruncher using dual Xeon v4 processors. It looks like it could be a replacement for my two i7-5860K machines. All I can do at the moment is wait.

One thing I am looking at doing is replacing the disks in the various crunchers. Some of them have an Intel SSD plus a hard disk and the remainder have hard disks of varying sizes. I prefer to have things standardised. The hard disks that went into the dedicated GPU crunchers are 320Gb drives manufactured in 2008 that I have reused from previous machines. They work fine but are rather slow.

14 August 2016

14th of August

Farm Status
Intel GPUs
Half (3) running Seti and the other half running CPDN plus Seti

Nvidia GPUs
One running GPUgrid overnight.

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work


Project update - Einstein
They were off for the week while upgrading their web site. Its still got a few issues but its running and the backend BOINC components are also running. In fact the Raspberry Pi's didn't run out of work so I have reduced their cache settings back to a more reasonable level.


Hardware upgrades
I got the two GPU crunchers last weekend. They are both i3 based systems who's purpose is to run a graphics card or two. I'm not happy with them. Sure they work okay, well one does. One has a faulty case fan so until its replaced I can't run the GPU in it. The problem is they are mATX boards in a Fractal Designs ARC Mini case and there isn't enough room to put a 2nd GPU in. Its designed for motherboards up to the mATX size. The motherboard has a 2nd PCIe slot, but its so close to the edge of the board a double-slot card won't fit because the power supply is in the way.

I have ordered a couple more ARC Midi cases and Z170 Pro motherboards (they're ATX size) and will cannibalise the mATX machines for parts.

I picked up one of the two i7-6700's on the weekend. Its up and running. It did some Einstein and some Asteroids work to get a burn-in and is now running Seti work. This brings the Intel GPU part of the farm up to 7 machines.


Wish list
I am waiting on a Pascal-based replacement for the GTX750Ti to be announced by Nvidia. I have no idea if they'll call it a GTX1050Ti or not or if they'll be as good as the 750Ti.

I am also waiting for AMD Zen to be released. They sound like they'll make good multi-core CPU crunchers, but we'll have to wait and see. The teasers we've been given by AMD indicate they'll have a 8 core/16 thread CPU that uses a maximum of 95 watts. What their performance is like we don't know yet.