08 April 2018

8th of April

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off

Nvidia GPUs
All off

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work


Other news
This last fortnight has been all about the Raspberry Pis. Its still too hot to be running the other machines so I have been concentrating on the little ones.

First off was the arrival of the 11 Pi3 model B+ and swapping out the Pi3 model B’s. First problem was a lack of heatsinks. I put as many into service as I could (5 of them) and ordered more heatsinks. Once heatsinks arrived I then decided I would use new SD cards rather than reusing the ones from the older Pis. A trip to the shops fixed that. Then a late night imaging a bunch of SD cards and firing up each Pi3B+ and installing the software.

Because I now had a bunch of spare Pi3 model B’s I decided I would use one of them as a NFS server in conjunction with the PiDrive that wasn’t doing anything. That made life a lot easier as I can now just copy various config files from it into the appropriate directories instead of what I used to do (manually edit file and cut and paste). I know I tried setting up an NFS server a couple of years ago but it wasn’t reliable. This time it seems a lot better.

At the moment I have upgraded 9 out of 10 number compute nodes and one support node. I have one more compute node left to swap over that is finishing off the work it has which takes around 11 hours.

I looked at the 3rd Pi^4 case that I had and thought why not put the two other compute nodes, currently in official Pi cases, into the Pi^4 case and get another two Pis. And while I am at it lets replace the Pi3B that is running the NFS with a 3B+ as well. I can feel the need to order more parts.

I broke a stand-off in one of the Pi^4 cases due to the screw holding the Pi3B in getting stuck. The head of the screw was stripped so the screwdriver couldn’t get a grip. In the end I had to deliberately break it to get the old Pi out. The M2.5 screws are so tiny and the metal isn’t hard so its easy to strip the head on them. I took half an hour just to get the piece of stand off and screw separated. Needless to say that screw got thrown away. I will have to glue the stand-off into the case now.


HT Condor
I have been using the freed-up Pi3B’s to experiment a bit with HT Condor. Its the software they run on a real cluster for scheduling batch jobs and its available in the Raspbian and Debian repositories. The HT stands for High Throughput. All was going fine until I enabled the firewall. After that I can’t get the components to talk to each other so I am trying to resolve that.

A number of compute clusters run HT Condor and have BOINC as a backfill task, that is if the cluster doesn’t have anything else to run it will start up a single instance of BOINC for each available core on each compute node. I don’t think thats going to work too well with the Pis due to the lack of memory however it should work on the larger machines which don’t have the memory constraints.

17 March 2018

17th of March

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off

Nvidia GPUs
All off.  Ran Einstein gravity wave work during the last week

Raspberry Pis
The ones with fans running Einstein BRP4 work


Debian point release
Stretch had a point release 9.4 so a few updates came out of it, plus various security fixes during the week. Raspbian followed the day after with the same fixes but also updated firmware to support the new Pi.


New Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi foundation released a new Pi called the Pi 3 model B+. It has a faster CPU (1.4GHz now), the same memory (1GB of DDR2) and better WiFi and networking. I promptly ordered 11 to replace my current farm before the distributor ran out of stock. They arrived yesterday.

I have swapped out four Pi3 crunchers and the support Pi3 already with Pi3B+ models. I only had 5 spare copper heatsinks so I need to order more.

I also got another 5 port USB charger which I use to power the Pis. It turns out its only rated to supply 3 x 2 amp plus 2 x 1 amp even though I have one running 4 Pi3’s in a Pi^4 (Pi to the power of four) case plus the fans. I might need another charger or two.


Pi^4 case
I have two more Pi^4 cases that are waiting on some M2.5 screws which I had to order off eBay. They are coming from China and take up to 30 days to arrive. I couldn’t find any in the local electronics parts stores or hobby shops.

To make it a bit safer I also have some chrome fan grills on the way but they aren’t holding up the build. Just don’t stick your fingers in the fan. The 60mm fans hurt.

Photos of the Mk I case coming soon - once the screws arrive.

04 March 2018

4th of March

Farm status
Intel GPUs
One running. The rest off.

Nvidia GPUs
Two running the rest off

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work


Einstein O2 gravity wave tuning
Weather goes from hot to cool, so in the cool times almost all the farm runs Einstein gravity wave tuning run work. Their first tuning run for the O2 (Observation run 2) had problems so we’re doing it again. They had to issue new apps and new data files.

I find the Ryzen’s aren’t too good at hyper threading this app so I only run 8 at a time. If I run 16 at a time their run time doubles. The Intel machines however are better so I use all available threads on them.


Other news
I still haven’t got the other 5 i7-8700’s assembled yet, still waiting on my PC assembler to return from holidays.

Another annoying thing is Intel have stopped updating Beignet which provides OpenCL capability to their iGPUs. They apparently had open source drivers (Beignet) and closed sources ones. They have now decided to have one set of open source drivers called Neo. Unfortunately it could take a long time before they become available in Debian repositories.


BOINC testing
BOINC 7.9.2 has made it all the way up to stretch-backports in Debian. Its also available via locutusofborg’s ppa for Ubuntu and of course from the BOINC download all page. This updates a few things and looks like it might have fixed one annoying bug with the Manager Tasks tab. It still has a problem with the event log losing its time format. This version is to support Science United.

18 February 2018

18th of February

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off.

Nvidia GPUs
All off

Raspberry Pis
Six with fans running Einstein BRP4 work


Other news
Doing more Einstein Gravity wave O2 tuning run work. This time its the i7-8700 and a couple of the Ryzen’s. The Ryzen’s seem to take quite a long time with them at the higher frequencies, even when running on half the available cores.

I did software updates on all the Pis, however one of them threw seg faults after rebooting. I reimaged the SD card but it was horribly slow. I assumed that meant the SD card was stuffed and reimaged a new one and reinstalled everything. Speeds are much quicker now which seems to confirm my diagnosis.

I had to go over to North Ryde to pickup the parts for the 5 new i7-8700’s. They are currently awaiting assembly. I am hoping my PC assembler will be available soon so I can get them going, especially with the Einstein gravity wave tuning run finishing in a week or so and the actual processing run starting. The hot weather isn’t helping either.

11 February 2018

12th of February

Farm status
Intel GPUs
One i7-8700 running, others off

Nvidia GPUs
One running, the rest off

Raspberry Pis
All running Einstein BRP4 work


Crunching news
The hot humid weather broke for a few days so I had most of the farm running a mix of Asteroids and Einstein work. It got hot again so they’re mostly off now.

Einstein are doing a tuning run for their O2 Gravity wave work so I have been running them on different machines to see how they go. When you look at the times per work unit you can see the i7-8700 is the fastest.

Intel i7-6700 running 8 approx 34,100 sec = 4,262.5 sec/WU
Intel i7-8700 running 12 approx 39,500 sec = 3,291.66 sec/WU
AMD Ryzen 7-1700 running 16 approx 56,000 sec = 3,500 sec/WU


Hardware upgrades
I placed the order for another 5 x i7-8700 machines comprising motherboard (ASUS Prime Z370-P), CPU (i7-8700), cooler (Noctua U9S), memory (Kingston 16GB DDR4 2666MHz kit) and one more case (Fractal Design ARC Midi R2). Unfortunately the coolers are out of stock until the 23rd of February.

I am going to reuse four cases that currently have i7-6700’s. I have already got one new machine in a new case running and there is one on this order. The cases appear to be discontinued.

I had hoped to get 24GB of memory in the new builds but Kingston doesn’t appear to have any 8GB (2 x 4GB) memory kits, only the 16GB kits. I wanted to use a 16GB plus an 8GB kit. The price is also rather high at the moment as 2666GHz memory is relatively new.

It is expected updated Ryzen CPU’s will be released in April so that will be the next major upgrade. I think all it will offer is a higher clock speed while still being able to use the existing motherboards and chipsets. I don’t expect extra cores, but maybe they will tweak the cache as well.

28 January 2018

And now its a sauna

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off

Nvidia GPUs
All off

Raspberry Pis
6 with fans running Einstein BRP4 work


Sauna
Its hot and humid so nothing much is running. The only difference from last week is the humidity has jumped up, but we haven’t had any rain.


i7-8700 build
I got the i7-8700 and its been partially setup software-wise. I turns out the ASUS Prime Z370-P has a DVI-D and a display port built-in. My KVM’s use VGA for the monitor so I have ordered a bunch of adapters. I have DVI-I and even HDMI adapters. I will work on it some more once the adapters arrive later in the week.

I had an issue with the DDR4-2666 memory not running at 2666 (it only wanted to run at 2400MHz) but a BIOS update seems to have taken care of that.

The built-in UHD 630 graphics are not supported properly until the 4.15 kernel (Debian Stretch are on 4.9). The 4.14 kernel which is in stretch-backports has the UHD 630 as alpha-test so you can set the i915.alpha_support=1 kernel parameter to get it recognised. There are also a few start up errors with it but it starts up anyway. I am not sure if they are BIOS or kernel issues.

21 January 2018

More scorching

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off

Nvidia GPUs
All off

Raspberry Pis
Six running.


Hardware purchasing
I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered parts for an i7-8700 build. Only one supplier had them and they are limiting them to 1 per customer. Memory is also rather expensive for the 2666Mhz kits so I only got 16GB. Unfortunately two parts are listed as “order only” - The ARC Midi R2 case and the Noctua NH-U9S CPU cooler.

I normally just tell the computer shop what I want and get them to build it, however the usual guy that handles this has left the company. Probably time to find another shop. I couldn’t get my regular power supply (Seasonic G-450) as it appears to be discontinued in favour of higher power models. I settled for Seasonic G-350’s which are not a modular power supply. I expect total power draw to be around 90-100 watts so well within its capabilities (power supplies are most efficient at 50% load).

My main concern with this build is Linux won’t recognise the graphics, at least until they update the kernel.

If it works out, the plan is to replace the eight i7-6700’s with six i7-8700’s. Both CPUs are 65 watt parts. The i7-8700 is a 6 core 12 thread CPU so I will end up with more cores with less machines.


Other news
As you would have noted pretty much everything is off due to the hot weather. The only things crunching are the Pis with fans.

07 January 2018

Summer scorcher

Farm status
Intel GPUs
All off

Nvidia GPUs
All off

Raspberry Pi’s
All running Einstein BRP work


Meltdown and Spectre bugs
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week you could not fail to hear about the two bugs dubbed Meltdown and Spectre. Meltdown is caused by the CPU doing speculative execution and effects all Intel processors made in the last 10 years as well as some recent ARM processors. The speculative execution is a feature the chip designers add to prevent the CPU waiting to load instructions, however it also has this nasty side effect.

Yesterday we got patched kernels for the Meltdown bug, both Linux and Windows. The Raspberry Pi’s don’t use the effected ARM processors so they didn’t need kernel updates. I spent some time applying it to all computers.

There have already been some lawsuits filed against Intel. There could be some performance impact caused by the patch but I have not been able to tell how much yet. Spectre has not been patched as its much harder to counter. It effects AMD, ARM and Intel (and possibly other) CPU brands.

I haven’t seen patches for the Drobo and I expect a number of mobile phones and tablets will need patching, a lot of them use the effected ARM processors.


Other farm news
Speaking of meltdown is was like that today with the temperature getting up to 38 degrees C here so I had everything off until things cooled down. Even now the only computers I have running are the Raspberry Pi’s.

I do, when its cool enough, run the main crunchers overnight. I am still trying to get Asteroids and Einstein up to the 50 million credits that Seti has accumulated.