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Silly GPU folding hardware question

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Everyone keeps saying there is no such thing as a stupid question, but here comes one that sure as hell sounds stupid.

I've been trolling these forums and a bunch of other folding forums (here's been my lurking home base for a while now though), and I've been looking through people's rigs and trying to decide what kind of hardware I want to use to get into the folding scene. There are a ton of ideas out there for what kind of hardware could be used, but one idea I had in mind never seemed to come up.

Wouldn't the cheapest folding rig option be to purchase a couple off-lease setups ($200 for a mobo/psu/case/hdd/dvd/OS) and pick up a bunch of cheap gpu cards (agp/pci/pci-e, depending on the motherboard, usually $50-100), filling up every available slot and then just letting her rip?

I have a hard-on for reusing equipment, fixing stuff or picking up refurbished parts, some would say that's just cheap, but there is ton of hardware that is just sitting around collecting dust that could be used for /something/, right? Why aren't people building gpu farms from parts that are fire-saled at places like tigerdirect or other online hardware venders?
post #2 of 10
When you put cheap components doing something as stressfull as folding thei're not going to last very long, 100$ graphics cards and cpus dont have enough processing power to make them worth folding IMO.
Edited by Haze_hellivo - 11/16/11 at 10:23am
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post #3 of 10
Well they would have to be newer cards to be worth it, so requiring PCI E at least. Even if you set up farms with old systems you would have to at least invest in a good PSU for them, old PSU's will likely be underpowered or rated incorrectly, not to mention cheap quality (if they are OEM).

It seems to me like you can put together 1 beastly machine to fold bigadv, that would likely put out more ppd than 3, 4, 5 low budget gpu farms. Costwise would be the same for the hardware, but for power/cooling the single machine would win out handily I think.
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster_is_better View Post

Well they would have to be newer cards to be worth it, so requiring PCI E at least. Even if you set up farms with old systems you would have to at least invest in a good PSU for them, old PSU's will likely be underpowered or rated incorrectly, not to mention cheap quality (if they are OEM).

This is true nowadays, you don't see many GPU farms. And one contribution would be that there are more efficient way to fold that a butt load of old GPUs. Still I have a mini farm (one rig with 4xPCIe) with unused cards folding besides my main folding which is done on CPUs doing SMP work. And GPU WU still need to be done by somebody, but building several rigs with just one old GPU in them seems to me a bit of a waste of electricity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster_is_better View Post

It seems to me like you can put together 1 beastly machine to fold bigadv, that would likely put out more ppd than 3, 4, 5 low budget gpu farms. Costwise would be the same for the hardware, but for power/cooling the single machine would win out handily I think.

Probably not with the upcoming changes for bigadv, 16 cores will be mandatory by mid Jan.

e- Let me clarify, you would probably get better PPD/W using CPUs to fold reg SMP WU but the difference won't be as big as it is now, pure bigadv rigs will cost a lot of dough to build.
Edited by arvidab - 11/16/11 at 1:11pm
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post #5 of 10
I have been thinking about this as well, setting up a dedicated folding rig, so far I have two planned routes

Route A: GPU’s
Finding a used mobo with 4 PCI-E slots and the cheapest processor for that socket, some value ram, then pickup used dual GPU on single PCB… 3870 X2, 3850 X2, 4850 X2, 4870 X2, they don’t need to be identical because we’re not running crossfire or anything…3-4K PPD per core = 24-32K PPD on all 8

Similar to the atlas folder, but with one MB not 14…lol
http://atlasfolding.com/?page_id=148

The only thing you will have to invest is a new and hefty power supply, 1200watt minimum probably 1500 if we are overclocking the cards.

To keep power draw to a minimum from the rest of the system, No LED’s, no optical drives, no high speed fans, you can boot from a 8GB thumb flash drive, so no HDD either.

Scouring eBay just now, I found a few X2 cards for around 100-150 a combination of 3850 and 4850 = $500
4 Cards $500 (and if you wait around you can pick up a bunch of 3850 for 80-100 which will save 150)

MB = M3A32-MVP $100
CPU= 30-50
Ram $20-30
PSU= Thermaltake TP-1500M $370
Total: $1,000

Route B: -bigadv -hugeadv
The other route would be to run a quad socket G34 and run 4 SMP clients simultaneously.
All new parts: probably half that if you can find used.

MB: TYAN S8812WGM3NR $850
CPU: 12 core 6168 X4 $2400
RAM: 8 sticks (2 per CPU) of 4GB each = $320
PSU: standards 750watt PSU $75
Total: $3650

Although the initial cost is almost 4 times that of the GPU rig, it will be both more power efficient.

As far as PPD, if a Xeon X5650 2.66GHz (6 core 12 threads) produces 80K PPD then a true 12 core but at 1.9GHz should be around the same 80K times 4 CPUS = 320K PPD

10 times that of the GPU rig.

So if you are going for $ per point

(rig cost + power usage 24/365)/PPD

Assuming the GPU rig will consume 1,000 watts at 0.25 cents per KWH
($1000 + $2190)/30,000 PPD = $.106 per point

And the CPU rig will consume 500 watts
(3650 + 1095)/320,000 PPD = $0.014 per point

A few things to take away from this.

The CPU rig is 8 times more efficient, you will break even on the cost of the rig in two and a half years (initial cost + electricity) the GPU rig will cost $6500 while the CPU rig will cost $6400
But after 2.5 years you will have 10 times more points.
Edited by Checkered - 11/16/11 at 2:34pm
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post #6 of 10
Route A:

Using AMD cards to fold on (especially old like 3xxx/4xxx-series) just doesn't make sense building that kind of dedicated rig. But even i you would use the most power efficient GPUs, which is actually GTX590 followed by the 560Ti iirc, it would probably loose out.

Also it would be a squeeze to fit four double wide graphics card on that mobo.

You could start out with just one card and add one every couple of month, to not take the full hit at once.

Route B:

Been toying with something like this for quite some time, but the initial cost is just to much for me right now, here you could also start out with just two CPUs and add two more later on.
The PPD estimate number seems legit on the AMD (high on the Intel, and just multiply doesn't work for SMP/bigadv WU), but iirc a 48 core MC gets that kind of points, more on the bigger ones.
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post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses, that places things in perspective very clearly.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by arvidab View Post

Route B:
Been toying with something like this for quite some time, but the initial cost is just to much for me right now, here you could also start out with just two CPUs and add two more later on.
The PPD estimate number seems legit on the AMD (high on the Intel, and just multiply doesn't work for SMP/bigadv WU), but iirc a 48 core MC gets that kind of points, more on the bigger ones.
or you could even start with one CPU and 2 sticks of ram getting the price of the rig down to ~1500, and I’m sure you could find used processors/ram/board making the total price just around 1000
In a year or so when there will be more 12 core 6168’s for sale.

I will probably go that route in late 2012, start with one and keep adding when I find a good price on used CPUs,

does anyone know if you can run different processor speeds on the same board?
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post #9 of 10
True, one CPU should probably be able to run by itself. But I'm just not sure how easy it is to find these CPUs and boards on the second hand for us mortals, but they might be there.
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post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by arvidab View Post

True, one CPU should probably be able to run by itself. But I'm just not sure how easy it is to find these CPUs and boards on the second hand for us mortals, but they might be there.
Here is an example of a quad socket F MB list is $500 but he is accepting offers so I’m sure he’ll sell it for 350-400
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tyan-Thunder-n3600QX-AMD-QUAD-SOCKET-1207-SERVER-MOTHERBOARD-S4987-S4987WG2NR-E-/350500354769?pt=Motherboards&hash=item519b72fad1

Socket F Opteron only come in a max 6 core, so you could still do -bidadv in Linux
Here is a listing for 2 for ~$400 (at launch they went for $2200 each)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/AMD-2-4GHz-Six-Core-Opteron-8431-2431-OS8431WJS6DGN-Socket-F-1207-MATCHED-PAIR-/120801855209?pt=UK_Motherboards_CPUs&hash=item1c205a06e9

+ram and PS you got yourself 12 cores for $1000 and can add 12 more later

I hope for similar pricing within 1 year for 12 core CPUs
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