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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:57 am 
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Black Belt
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Hi all...

I'm looking at building a new gamer. Since I run Folding 24/7 on all of my machines, Folding@Home capabilities are one of my goals. With that said, here are a few questions:

1) Is the Ageia PhysX card supported for F@H?

2) Does anyone have a list of the supported ATI Video Cards for GPU Folding?

3) If I purchase two of the supported video cards for SLI, can each one run its own instance of F@H?

4) I'm going Quad-Core, so I plan to use the SMP client. Can I run both the SMP client and also the GPU client(s) at the same time?

I'm hoping the answers to these are "Yes", because that would enable me to run the SMP client and 2 instances of the GPU client on the same machine (which will only be used on the weekends by me, so it will run F@H strictly during the week) which should make for one heck of a Folding Rig.

I look forward to everyone's input...Thanks in advance.

Thanks,
Jason

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:21 am 
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Black Belt 5th Degree
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#1, to be honest I've never heard of this card so I don't know.

#2,
Quote:
We now support several classes of GPU boards, including X1600, X1800, and X1900 series GPUs from ATI. At the launch, we supported X1900 series cards only. X1800 cards do not provide the performance seen in X1900's and so we strongly recommend X1900 class cards. X1900 and X1800 cards are actually quite different -- they have different processors (R520, R530 vs. the R580). The R580 in the X1900 makes a huge difference in performance -- its 48 pixel shaders are key, as we use pixel shaders for our computations. Also note that the card should have at least 512MB of RAM, otherwise the GPU client will put a huge load on the client machine (although we do note that the 256MB X1950Pro using PCIe does work reasonably well on current projects).


What about video cards with other (non-ATI) chipsets?

The R580 (in the X1900XT, etc.) performs particularly well for molecular dynamics, due to its 48 pixel shaders. Currently, other cards (such as those from nVidia and other ATI cards) do not perform well enough for our calculations as they have fewer pixel shaders. Also, nVidia cards in general have some technical limitations beyond the number of pixel shaders that makes them perform poorly in our calculations.


#3, If the card is supported then yes.

#4, Yes, but only 2 cores can be used. Most people with a quad core and a single compatible GPU core would run SMP on two cores, one instance of GPU and one instance of normal folding. Not sure how a system with a quad core and 2 GPU's would work though.

Pete

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:20 pm 
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Black Belt
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Hi, Pete...

Thanks for the information. I guess I need to look into finding 2x ATI X1900XT's for the Crossfire application. I wonder if they are going to move on to supporting the HD3xxx series?

I also thought that SMP was supposed to be run on a 4-core machine? Why then would it only use 2 cores?

The Ageia PhysX card is basically a video card without the monitor output on it. It plugs into a standard PCI slot and is linked to the Video Cards to help increase their available processing power. There are very few games which actually use this technology, so I wouldn't purchase it for that, but if it will help with the GPU folding, then I'll grab one.

Thanks,
Jason

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System 1: 3.4GHz AMD Phenom II X4, 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM, 1x500GB HDD & 1x1TB HDD, Palit GTS 250 1GB
System 2: 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB DDR2-800 RAM, 120GB HDD, BFG 7800GTX 256MB
System 3: Dual-533MHz PowerMac G4 Digital Audio, 1.5GB RAM, 120GB HDD


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:37 pm 
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Black Belt 5th Degree
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SkyWlf77 wrote:
Hi, Pete...


I also thought that SMP was supposed to be run on a 4-core machine? Why then would it only use 2 cores?



Sure, it'll use all 4 cores providing you don't run any other form of folding@home at the same time. It's kinda similar to a dual core, you can run SMP but if you run a standard or GPU client at the same time then you'll reduce your SMP points by a big chunk, might even miss the deadline. I'm no expert on this, its just what I read on the folding community forum. I have however run GPU folding alongside standard folding and didn't see any points advantage, in fact, I saw the opposite :(

Pete

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:44 pm 
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SkyWlf77 wrote:
Hi, Pete...


The Ageia PhysX card is basically a video card without the monitor output on it. It plugs into a standard PCI slot and is linked to the Video Cards to help increase their available processing power. There are very few games which actually use this technology, so I wouldn't purchase it for that, but if it will help with the GPU folding, then I'll grab one.

Thanks,
Jason


That sounds just like what 3DFX boards did, that was 10 years ago and worked well with the limited number of games that were supported. Still have one of them in a fairly modern machine. Not sure if it would aid Folding@home though, I'll see what I can find. :)

Doesn't look good. :(

http://foldingforum.org/viewtopic.php?f ... ysX#p11531

Pete

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 2:28 pm 
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Black Belt
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Hi, Pete...

Yeah, that doesn't look promising...

Oh, well...That's $85 I don't have to spend :P


With respect to the SMP client, would I actually be better off just running it on all 4 cores and eliminating the GPU folding? If that's the case, I'll go with SLI with Nvidia cards instead of Crossfire with ATI cards...

Thanks,
Jason

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My Heatware: http://www.heatware.com/eval.php?id=48800

System 1: 3.4GHz AMD Phenom II X4, 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM, 1x500GB HDD & 1x1TB HDD, Palit GTS 250 1GB
System 2: 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB DDR2-800 RAM, 120GB HDD, BFG 7800GTX 256MB
System 3: Dual-533MHz PowerMac G4 Digital Audio, 1.5GB RAM, 120GB HDD


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:53 am 
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Found this.. interesting!
But a GPU isn't designed to do multi-tasking or handling more than one basic thread process.. so may only be good for one F@H process. A multi-core CPU would be more adept.
A dual-processor quad-core setup on a server board.. with an OS that can manage multiple-core threads.. should be the best performer, albeit at a higher cost.

The manufacturers of video cards have to rewrite the programming drivers to incorporate the F@H routines.. and Stanford has to provide the routine basics. Takes a long time to get all those "threads" into a "weave" that is useful.
Linux seems to still lead the efficiency race with F@H on multiple processor cores.

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