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Is folding more hype then result?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Looking at this link at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Folding@home_and_Supercomputer_Computational_Powers.png

it seems that the faster super computer speeds are dominating distributed computing in performance. Maybe I'm not understanding the graph correctly, is both the red and blue curves different folding clients, so you add them together to see the total TFflops? But even then it seems that we've hit a plateu. I was going to buy an unnecessary $250 video card simply to contribute to a better world, by folding, but could i make a bigger contribution by simply donating to some standford supercomputer fund?

Why is folding lagging the fastest super computers? Is distributed computing just too inefficient when compared to one dedicated super computer? Can distributed computing improve more so that it's relevant? Maybe it's because I hangout @ ocn, but people are spending a lot of money on dedicated rigs to help with folding because they want to make a difference in the world, so I extrapolate there a lot of people like myself willing to do this. Should we all just be pooling our money into buying a huge super computer to make a bigger difference in the world then buying some computer with a relatively minuscule impact when compared to a super computer?

It seems like some way older gen super computer could easily pull more PPD than the entire folding network. I know a 109 research papers have been released based on F@H, but those would have been released anyway if there was a decent super computer doing this.

We spend trillions on war, if we just took a billion of that and built a super computer, it seems to me from the above graph, that we could get enough data in a day or two that would take F@H 25 years to do.
post #2 of 16
This should be a fun ride biggrin.gif
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post #3 of 16
Doesn't the world's (current) fastest super computer have 16,000 Opterons in it? No wonder why it out runs the rest of the world... Other than enthusiasts like us that take up a little portion of the computer market - there are terrible *stock* computers that might not be able to turn in one WU within 3 days. I wouldn't doubt that the enthusiasts are pulling a larger load than the rest of the world, even being this small percentage.
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post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcherea View Post

This should be a fun ride biggrin.gif

I'll oblige...

Everyone go sell their computers and then give all the proceeds to me and I'll go buy a super-duper-zeta-flopping parallel folding gigantic computer farm and fold for everyone so they can sleep better at night knowing I'm folding for them.

Then, donate a monthly fee to me for electricity, building space rental, and administration support 24/7 just to keep it running.

Oh, and don't forget irregular requests for maintenance costs due to systems failures, annual warranty renewals, and life-cycle replacements every few months/years in order to get the latest and greatest equipment.

Or, we can just just keep folding for Stanford, absorbing all the aforementioned costs ourselves, tweak our systems our way, enjoy the pain and sorrow of a burnt out GPU, and walk around the house, drinking a beer and sporting a "s- eating grin" when we trounce someone else in a Fold-a-thon, or a forum challenge.

I vote for the latter... biggrin.gif

EDIT:
Dang double posts!!
   
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post #5 of 16
Ok first thing first - it doesn't matter how powerful your computer is, "super" or otherwise, F@H will max it out. It's not a game that runs requires a set amount of resources, and its not a limited task that you can reach the end of. The more power you have, the quicker you complete a WU. That just means you get another WU faster. There are a theoretical infinite number of WUs and there is no telling which ones will have significant outcomes until they are fully processed, examined, re-examined, and probably even then they could become useful later down the road.



Ok, so with that out of the way, why do people fold themselves instead of just pooling money and renting some HPC services? Simple. You don't need to buy a new set of rigs for the sole purpose of folding in order to offer some contribution to the project. I personally have a handful of computers that I no longer personally use on a daily basis due to being slightly outdated. They're all now dedicated folders, that effectively cost me nothing because I already got the value for my money out of them when they were my main gaming/work rigs. I also don't pay any power bill here.

That brings up another point. A lot of users with farms do not pay for electricity. This makes the actual process of running the farms free (aside from some small bandwidth, but lets face it, anyone with a folding farm already has good internet for other reasons). Not only does this not cost them anything other than the initial hardware costs (which for all you know they could have acquired through various means for cheap or even free), but computers are almost perfectly inefficient as far as work/heat ratios go. Something like 95+% of the energy (electricity) put into a computer is dumped back out of it as heat. This means you can heat your house in the winter/in cold climates entirely with computers, if you have enough of them. If you aren't paying for electricity, this makes your heating cost also 100% free. That cost savings alone can pay for the components (if they even cost you anything to begin with), making home folding farms extremely cost effective.

Now, cost effectiveness only matters when you can afford the cost of entry to begin with. The cost of entry for a home folding machine is very low. You can probably set up one or two already for free using old rigs or spare parts. How about the cost of entry for HPC? Without splitting the cost among many people, the cost of entry is completely prohibitive for MOST people. Ok, so lets say you pool up the money. Who gets end control? How do you trust that the money is actually going to folding? This is a project too large for just a handful of friends. There is no end product for you to get and hold in your hands and know if you don't receive. Short of some official charity nonprofit organization, it would be very difficult to set up a standardized, reliable way of doing this at any time with little to no entry barriers.

So... what about that nonprofit? Well they probably aren't about to jump on buying a whole bunch of energy-inefficient folding supercomputers when they can just do something tried and proven like handing out water to kids in africa or something. You get the idea.

Going back to the home setups, we computer enthusiasts are, well, computer enthusiasts. We want to see our rigs in our house. We want to build them ourselves with love, our way, and be proud of them. We want to be able to see them, have their physical presence. Sometimes, folding is just an excuse to have more computers around. Other times it is just something useful to do with all the extra computers we end up buying/building for other reasons. Either way, it is a lot more personally fulfilling than just renting something you will never see or touch and just watching the numbers tick by.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, F@H doesn't actually require dedicated folding machines to begin with. You can fold in the background on just about anything. If my phone had a x86 cpu, I could fold on it. My HTPC is folding as we speak, as it is perfectly capable of playing/recording music and videos with F@H running. The HTPC is on 24/7 anyway, so why not let it's idle cycles actually do something?

All those little background clients add up to a whole lot of WUs.



Which brings me to your other point about Supercomputers being more powerful than distributed computing networks. That that graph you linked is actually saying is that until mid 2011, F@H's network alone was more powerful than the very fastest supercomputer. We're not talking any old HPC system. We're talking RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science's "Fujitsu K Computer".

Do you have any idea how immensely expensive that unit is? Never mind that no one outside that institute is likely to ever get their hands on that device. This isn't your run of the mill $100k "supercomputer" we're talking about. This beast costs $10 million a year just to power the thing, and it was considered the most power efficient supercomputer ever at the time.

I'd call that a pretty mean feat for a distributed computing network. Especially one that, let's face it, no one outside of us geeks have actually heard of.
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post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by AcEsSalvation View Post

Doesn't the world's (current) fastest super computer have 16,000 Opterons in it? No wonder why it out runs the rest of the world... Other than enthusiasts like us that take up a little portion of the computer market - there are terrible *stock* computers that might not be able to turn in one WU within 3 days. I wouldn't doubt that the enthusiasts are pulling a larger load than the rest of the world, even being this small percentage.

The fastest supercomputer in the world to my knowledge is the Titan in Oak Ridge, TN. It runs 18,688 CPU's, 18,688 GPU's, 299,008 Opteron Cores, 710TB of ram, and runs at 20+ Petaflops, crazy stuff lol.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Some really good answers here, and I see it's not just about scientific research, there's just a lot of satisfaction with the sexy computing going on.

On some further research I found two good posts that pretty much say what it seems like, that F@H isn't very useful:

http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/r93i6/has_foldinghome_really_accomplished_anything/c43z7ji

and

http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=521569 check out the poosts by m0002a

The synopsis is that the problems that F@H solves aren't the difficult ones and they aren't the bottlenecks faced by medical research community. If biomed's need some results, they cheaply and efficiently rent a small amount of time on a super computer for some serious number crunching that the F@H can't compete with. None of the 79 research papers based on F@H have any biochemists as authors, every paper has least one F@H author on it, and most of the papers are by Stanford computer scientists. The pharmaceutical industry does not find the project useful nor do medical researchers outside of standford. It looks to me like F@H is an awesome computer science project and the department that is running it is playing the funding game that is nearly ubiquitous in academia these days.
Edited by abombthecoder - 8/10/13 at 8:08pm
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asiqduah View Post

The fastest supercomputer in the world to my knowledge is the Titan in Oak Ridge, TN. It runs 18,688 CPU's, 18,688 GPU's, 299,008 Opteron Cores, 710TB of ram, and runs at 20+ Petaflops, crazy stuff lol.

Silly rabbit...China is on top again with 33+ Petaflops!!

http://www.top500.org/blog/lists/2013/06/press-release/
   
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post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by scubadiver59 View Post

Silly rabbit...China is on top again with 33+ Petaflops!!

http://www.top500.org/blog/lists/2013/06/press-release/

LIES!@!!! They try to fool you with all these...... "FACTS"! tongue.gif
post #10 of 16
Wait....so the TITAN supercomputer is actually AMD powered? Or are the GPUs Nvidia?

I fold with my pc, I am almost done building a dedicated folding and gaming pc with a lot more HP and I just started a 4P 24/7 folding only build.
I would LOVE to think I am making a tiny bit of difference.

But I do agree the OP asks a question I have asked myself. Am I just donating a lot of money in hardware and energy so people at Stanford can setup 10.000 minecraft servers? Would I have been better off donating to Stanford annually for one supercomputer? I think people deserve to ask these questions. Right?
 
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Intel i7-4770k Intel DZ87KLT75K Integrated Cosair Vengeance 2*4 1.5v CL8 1600 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Plextor 256GB SSD WD Caviar black 1TB Samsung Spinpoint 1TB LG bluray rewriter 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Intel AIO 120mm watercooler Windows 7 64bit LG 2360V Thermaltake Forged Blue TT switch 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Cooler Master Silent Pro M600 Thermaltake Chaser MK I Roccat Kova+ Roccat Taito 
AudioAudio
Astrogaming A40 wireless Logitech Z-2300 
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(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel i7 3770k Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 Kfa2 gtx670 EVGA GTX670 
RAMHard DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 16gb low voltage ram Samsung 830 64gb ssd x2 Custom XSPC water loop Windows 7 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech g19 Cooler master silent pro hybrid 1050 Silverstone TJ07 Logitech X9 
AudioOther
Logitech G35 Full Coldzero plexi panels 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i7-4770k Intel DZ87KLT75K Integrated Cosair Vengeance 2*4 1.5v CL8 1600 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Plextor 256GB SSD WD Caviar black 1TB Samsung Spinpoint 1TB LG bluray rewriter 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Intel AIO 120mm watercooler Windows 7 64bit LG 2360V Thermaltake Forged Blue TT switch 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Cooler Master Silent Pro M600 Thermaltake Chaser MK I Roccat Kova+ Roccat Taito 
AudioAudio
Astrogaming A40 wireless Logitech Z-2300 
  hide details  
Reply
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