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JCMarsh
 
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2012-03-26 19:40:47
last modified: 2012-03-26 19:43:01

I have built a new (budget) desktop machine for crunching and have outfitted it as such:
GigaByte GA-990FXA-UD3 mobo (plenty PCI-E expansion)
AMD FX 8120 processor (8 cores @ 3.11GHz)
8GB 1600MHz RAM
Crucial M4 64GB SSD
GeForce GTX 550 Ti GPU

Couldn't get ANY of the Ubuntu flavors to install. Each would hang during first boot from CD- or DVD-ROM at a module for a SCSI device [I see no SCSI, but whatever ], so I went with Win Server 2008 32 bit. It's running fine and has drastically improved not only my BOINC experience, I can finally trans-code a bunch of video that I'd been waiting to get a decent machine for. It also really improved heating in my office

So now for my questions:
When my budget allows I'd like to add another GPU, but I don't know whether to get a second of the same and SLI them, or should I leave them separate. Also, if I SLI'd two 550TI cards, would that approach the processing power of a single install of one of the more recent 6xx-series NVidias? Also, will BOINC eat my SSD?

Thanks so much for your input. Maybe I can reach 1M by the end of the year now! Or with another GPU (or two) maybe burn the paint off my office walls.
Bruce Kennedy
 
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2012-03-27 00:56:18

JC

A 64-bit version of windows would be better for some boinc projects, but not all.
Boinc GPU projects work faster/better when cards are NOT in SLI.
Two 550 TI cards would be almost as productive as a GTX 580 and cost less.
Everything I've read says SSD's should have a good life span. I wouldn't think boinc would be harder on it than other uses. Mine is ok so far after 3 months 24x7.
Good luck on reaching your first million!

Bruce
JCMarsh
 
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2012-03-27 01:59:13

Bruce,
Thanks for the info. I'd heard of SSDs having lifespan shortened by frequent writes, but I haven't heard much about it lately so I figured the manufacturers had probably found better methods for distributing writes across the whole device so that one block/module doesn't get burned out ahead of others.

On the GPU issue, that sounds great. Now I can add second- or third-newest GPUs as they are eclipsed by the "latest, greatest" models and keep costs down. Gotta love the GPU manufacturers for continually forcing better cards down in price as new flagships are brought to market

My new machine is already looking so much better than the two has-been refurbs I was using. It's been so long since I've had a new computer that I'd accepted the UX I was getting as acceptable. Maybe I'll even try an OS that isn't as old as as WS2008; perhaps I'll wait until Ubuntu 12.04LTS is released and give that another try. Surely my problem had something to do with an issue that Canonical has accounted for in the coming release of Ubuntu, but just haven't rolled into the previous one.

Now maybe I'll re-purpose the dual-Xeon unit and set it up as a storage serving, DNS-caching, multi-link binding, VPN endpoint firewall from hell , with pwnies and unicorns added for good measure

Bring on the millions


Thx again,
Jason
JCMarsh
 
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2012-04-12 15:09:25

Update: I upgraded to 64 bit Windows Server 2008 and things were running quite well. Then about two weeks in I installed the 7.0.?? flavor of BOINC and it wouldn't boot. I also applied a bunch of patches from Microsoft, so I can't say what caused it to fail. It couldn't find bootmgr. I had added a hard drive the day before to move the boinc folders off the SSD and also to put my media collection. Anyways, I re-installed windows server 2008 64 bit and all is well since.

I should know better than to go through a Patch Tuesday without a valid image saved on the NAS, but since it's an eval copy of ws2008 and I'm not putting my life on it I haven't. Besides, with the important things living on the second drive it's not so stressful when there's a failure to boot.

I was really trying to go Ubuntu on all my machines, but that's proved problematic enough that I have gone back to MS Windows on one of them, and will probably do the same with the other as soon as it burns through it's current set of WUs. As much distaste I have for Microsoft, at least their products tend to run well enough any user/admin intervention isn't needed very often at all. Perhaps I'll give Linux another try later, when the WS2008 eval license expires.
Kiska
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2012-04-27 10:50:00

JCMarsh U.S. Army wrote:
Update: I upgraded to 64 bit Windows Server 2008 and things were running quite well. Then about two weeks in I installed the 7.0.?? flavor of BOINC and it wouldn't boot. I also applied a bunch of patches from Microsoft, so I can't say what caused it to fail. It couldn't find bootmgr. I had added a hard drive the day before to move the boinc folders off the SSD and also to put my media collection. Anyways, I re-installed windows server 2008 64 bit and all is well since.

I should know better than to go through a Patch Tuesday without a valid image saved on the NAS, but since it's an eval copy of ws2008 and I'm not putting my life on it I haven't. Besides, with the important things living on the second drive it's not so stressful when there's a failure to boot.

I was really trying to go Ubuntu on all my machines, but that's proved problematic enough that I have gone back to MS Windows on one of them, and will probably do the same with the other as soon as it burns through it's current set of WUs. As much distaste I have for Microsoft, at least their products tend to run well enough any user/admin intervention isn't needed very often at all. Perhaps I'll give Linux another try later, when the WS2008 eval license expires.


Ok the problem with bootmgr not found is that something or someone wrote an invalid set of start-up instructions to the boot sector and made it do that, second one of the updates could have done it and I recommend installing one at a time doing trial and error also it could be good if you had another hard disk installed if something goes wrong and requires an immediate system restore.

Even if you did save an image on the NAS it won't restore properly and since it is eval it won't let you do it, also a hard disk failure could happen at anytime and your data should always be backed-up somewhere on external hard disks, dvds, online storage, etc.

Ubuntu server is command line and you will need to be ready for the torture you will have with it, unless you know those command lines off by heart I suggest going to revise them even though I am a webmaster I still don't know all of them so its ok to admit it. If you don't like command line then go for the desktop instead of the server edition. Yes I also have hatred for Microsoft and they did ruin desktops by releasing Win8. Btw Ubuntu 12.04 is going to be released soon I estimate around another month of intensive beta testing then it'll be ready, already most of the people who use Ubuntu has already upgraded so if you do want to then by all means there's nothing stopping you. Here is the download section
http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop
http://www.ubuntu.com/download/server
I'll probably post more soon
JCMarsh
 
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2012-06-19 02:15:00

So this machine is still crunching right along, and after I edited work preferences to only 99% of cores it's making much better use of the GPU. Going along the same line of thought, I wonder what would happen if I pared it down to 50% of cores. I'm certainly not a CS/EE, so my understanding of multi-core CPU technology and how the OS puts them to use is very, very rudimentary. So, this being an AMD Zambezi CPU, if I was running only 4 threads for BOINC projects, would the CPU/OS pool resources to speed along the existing threads? If I tried this would I see a benefit or take a hit on performance? Or should I just go find a job so I can buy another GPU and quit pondering such silly things as maximizing utilization of the cpu?

Yeah, I know. The wife thinks I should get a job, too. But I'm having such fun playing retired!
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