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bigadv to end in a year, 32-core minimum will be scrapped, and other changes (maybe)

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
I didn't see any posts about it, so I thought you all would want to be alerted in case you didn't see at FF or the blog:

http://folding.stanford.edu/home/revised-plans-for-bigadv-ba-experiment/
Quote:
We’ve put a lot of time into reading the comments about the BA experiment and have come to some conclusions regarding how we should proceed. BA was originally conceived as an experiment to push FAH as close to what you could run on a traditional supercomputer as possible, doing calculations that most researchers thought could never run on a distributed computing platform. In order to make this possible, the requirements for BA would have to be pretty extreme and constantly updating (much like how supercomputers are constantly being updated to the latest hardware). In recognition of this extreme set of requirements came a very large PPD.

BA was embraced by donors with powerful machines. It also encouraged donors to buy and build powerful machines, which are naturally expensive, in turn leading to donors naturally becoming upset when requirements change. However, updating BA is important. Without updating to keep BA amongst only the top machines in FAH, there would be a huge point inflation (turning off non-BA donors) and also limit what we could do with FAH outside of BA-needed projects.

In the most recent announcement of an update in BA, the reaction was particularly negative. This was far from our intent — we’re here to push our research forward and also to help bring donors together in this important cause we’re all fighting for. The BA update did the opposite. It turned people off from Folding@home and served as an obstacle to our ability to push our research forward.

We’ve listened to the donor comments (including those running BA and those who are not) and come to the following plan to be sensitive to their concerns but also to avoid this sort of issue continuing over and over in the future.

1) The posted change in BA requirements will be revised. The only change in requirements going forward will be to require 24 cores (with according changes in deadlines) and that will occur on May 1, 2014. Why change the minimum core count? In general, FAH works best when we have fewer longer trajectories rather than more slower trajectories, which is why we need to change the BA requirements periodically. Given the amount of BA work we would like to do, the cutoff has to be raised above the current level. While, 32 cores would be ideal but we can still get work done at 24 and, in recognition of donor needs, we will set the level there.

2) The BA experiment will permanently end on January 31, 2015. On that date, the servers will be set to accept only and we will have no plans for future BA WUs. This would allow donors to continue to use their machines and recoup more of their investment than the previous plan. This decision would also work to avoid future issues and strife within the FAH community associated with BA. We understand that many donors will be very disappointed about this decision. This was a judgement call I had to make and this decision is, in my opinion, the right thing to do for the long term good of FAH, even though I know there will be many upset donors right now.

In leading FAH, my approach has been to push the limits, try new experiments, but also keep an eye to the future such that FAH outlasts and out performs other distributed computing projects. Starting with establishing FAH itself over 13 years ago, to pushing to GPUs, true SMP, Playstation 3, and most recently to supercomputer like nodes with BA, we have constantly been trying new directions to see how we can further and further advance our research. All experiments come to an end, sooner or later. I think my team and I have learned a lot from reading the recent posts and it’s time for us to concentrate on the core parts of FAH and improve them and not bite off too much.

Going forward, the next steps will include a discussion of the change of the QRB formula and possibly an update of the benchmark machine. Our plan is to seek more input from donors for both changes. While a distributed computing project cannot be run effectively through polls, I think there is a lot of room for us to improve in terms of connecting to donors and incorporating their concerns. I’m very excited about the future of FAH. I think my team has learned a lot with BA and hopefully we can take that going forward to make FAH even better.

Thanks to all for their contributions and participation in FAH. Working together we have done and will continue to do great things!

Edited by Zagen30 - 1/15/14 at 2:20pm
post #2 of 40
So people whined and now they are taking it away. Good job whiners mad.gif
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post #3 of 40
Well that is bad news for people that have invested the money on BA farms. frown.gif
    
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post #4 of 40
I feel like these decisions need to be made by a committee of people, not just one person. This person clearly is unable to decide how to proceed and I wonder if they will reverse this decision. In the end this feels very immature on the part of the person running the project.
Quote:
I think my team and I have learned a lot from reading the recent posts and it’s time for us to concentrate on the core parts of FAH and improve them
Its almost like they are angry that we are getting angry and now they want to teach us a lesson. We are disappointed because we have made a commitment into something which had no indications of ending.

I was already F@H before investing into a server. I then decided hey I could contribute more by spending some money to fold these bigger units. Meanwhile there was no indication it would end. Now they are telling us "well we changed our minds", and in essence I would have been better off donating this money to a cancer research fund.

This is a poor decision on the person managing this project. I think what we will see as a result of this is that there is a major loss in support for F@H. The idea behind BA was to promote people who wanted to donate more to spend more. Many, many people bought into this idea. There was no indication it was going to end and it was seen as revolution in the F@H project.

Why should I invest in their "next project" if this person has the authority to change their mind on a whim? I could have simply donated this money to disease research.

In Summary
  • This shows poor communication of intentions with dedicated community of people. Damaging my faith in the management of F@H
  • There is no reason to invest in their next project if they are going to "change their minds" and we are better off donating our money
  • They need some business people on their team to help manage the project.

Edited by Kitler - 1/15/14 at 6:57pm
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post #5 of 40
Thread Starter 
There's still a lot of unknowns that should get resolved in the next year which could have big impact on what happens to all those BA machines. Probably the most important is what, if any, changes get made to the QRB system. Hopefully they've realized from the uproar over the last month that, in the current climate, pretty much no one wants to run regular SMP on a BA-capable system because the points are so bad compared to what that amount of money could buy you in GPUs. If they want to keep BA rigs folding, they'll probably have to up the QRB so that BA rigs are still earning a nice points premium. I don't know how many other issues that will cause, however. As several people have pointed out on various teams, upping SMP points means they should have to up GPU points as well, which might not actually solve anything if a GPU can still earn what a BA machine can.

On that note, if the points for regular SMP increased, would anyone care that they were running regular SMP vs. what was being studied with BA? It seems like 99% of the BA folders were doing it solely for the points, not the viral research that Dr. Kasson was running. That is not to say his research wasn't interesting or important, but I, at least, was motivated by the extreme points disparity. I'm fortunate enough to not have had any friends or family affected by anything FAH has studied, so I pretty much solely go where the points tell me I'm contributing the most. If regular SMP WUs were earning even close to what BA does now, I wouldn't care which research I was contributing to.

Kitler, I don't think Dr. Pande changed his mind on a whim. He's certainly aware of the 45-page reaction thread on FF given he's posted in it several times. I think he felt BA was becoming too much of a distraction vs. the benefits, especially since it seemed like only Kasson had access to BA. It seemed like literally every change in BA resulted in nothing but anger and ragequitting. If they can find a way to suitably reward all the BA machines for doing regular SMP work, that's probably better for the collective body of researchers and their work.

There's also a question of whether BA-level research will go away forever. A few people have suggested an assignment scheme where there's still very large research like that which BA has been investigating, only there's no inherent point bonus, just a much steeper QRB. They'd still restrict these BA-level projects to high core count machines, but you wouldn't be penalized whenever more normal-sized projects came your way. I have no idea whether this will get implemented, but there's ways to make current BA rigs still a worthwhile investment.
post #6 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zagen30 View Post

There's still a lot of unknowns that should get resolved in the next year which could have big impact on what happens to all those BA machines. Probably the most important is what, if any, changes get made to the QRB system. Hopefully they've realized from the uproar over the last month that, in the current climate, pretty much no one wants to run regular SMP on a BA-capable system because the points are so bad compared to what that amount of money could buy you in GPUs. If they want to keep BA rigs folding, they'll probably have to up the QRB so that BA rigs are still earning a nice points premium. I don't know how many other issues that will cause, however. As several people have pointed out on various teams, upping SMP points means they should have to up GPU points as well, which might not actually solve anything if a GPU can still earn what a BA machine can.

On that note, if the points for regular SMP increased, would anyone care that they were running regular SMP vs. what was being studied with BA? It seems like 99% of the BA folders were doing it solely for the points, not the viral research that Dr. Kasson was running. That is not to say his research wasn't interesting or important, but I, at least, was motivated by the extreme points disparity. I'm fortunate enough to not have had any friends or family affected by anything FAH has studied, so I pretty much solely go where the points tell me I'm contributing the most. If regular SMP WUs were earning even close to what BA does now, I wouldn't care which research I was contributing to.

Kitler, I don't think Dr. Pande changed his mind on a whim. He's certainly aware of the 45-page reaction thread on FF given he's posted in it several times. I think he felt BA was becoming too much of a distraction vs. the benefits, especially since it seemed like only Kasson had access to BA. It seemed like literally every change in BA resulted in nothing but anger and ragequitting. If they can find a way to suitably reward all the BA machines for doing regular SMP work, that's probably better for the collective body of researchers and their work.

There's also a question of whether BA-level research will go away forever. A few people have suggested an assignment scheme where there's still very large research like that which BA has been investigating, only there's no inherent point bonus, just a much steeper QRB. They'd still restrict these BA-level projects to high core count machines, but you wouldn't be penalized whenever more normal-sized projects came your way. I have no idea whether this will get implemented, but there's ways to make current BA rigs still a worthwhile investment.

What I think a lot of us are forgetting--and what I got from the tone of this announcement--is that this is about disease research. This is not about points in the end.

This author seemed to hint that they are disgusted over people are getting angry about points. This is a valid point, however points have become crucial to the the success of this project. There are also others like me where points are just a bonus for doing something good.

Points are a measure of my contribution. I have more points than say someone who is doing regular SMP and therefore I can deduce that, in a sense, I have made a bigger contribution. It makes me feel good that I have made a big impact on this project.

I could also be reading this wrong. It has been a long week--too many 3 in morning meetings with people in russia--and I cannot comprehend simple things. tongue.gif

In the end I don't care what happens I will just keep folding and whatever happens, happens. Probably will invest more in GPUS though because those can be turned around into profit.
Edited by Kitler - 1/15/14 at 10:01pm
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post #7 of 40
Hello Kitler, the last line of your post kind of drove a point home. That point being the comparative ease at which high end GPU's can be turned into money (sold) and the tough market out there for BA rigs. Myself, I do what I can. I am moving up page 2 ( I was a page 1 person some years ago) so I still get my "PPD fix" and I am running old hardware. Is anyone on the OCN folding team (besides me) still folding regular smp on a Q6600? My rigs are an I7-970, the Q6600, and up to 4 275's. I do wonder when I will be totally shut out of folding until I update equipment. This recent BA development has pushed me towards GPU's but GPU folding just seems so boring.
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post #8 of 40
OCN has all the GPU POWA!!!! sucks to be [H] since over half their ppd comes from BA folders
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post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCCstudent View Post

Is anyone on the OCN folding team (besides me) still folding regular smp on a Q6600?

Still folding on my Q9300.
    
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post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donkey1514 View Post

OCN has all the GPU POWA!!!! sucks to be [H] since over half their ppd comes from BA folders

but what will become of the chimp challenge when its only us and EVGA competeting. lol
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