Could my computer be doing better?

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gimpel
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Message 1010198 - Posted: 1 Jul 2010, 4:16:52 UTC

I've got an older computer, definitely not 'state of the art' or 'latest and greatest', so it is not really crunching numbers so much as 'gently chewing' them. I would like to know if my computer is performing its tasks as quickly as it is able, or whether there are things I might do to speed it up. (without spending money)

I am not giving all my info yet, as someone may be able to point me to answers here in the forums or in the FAQs, tho I didnt find them.

Thanks

gimpel
Nathaniel Lee, on being committed to a mental institution. (17th cent.)

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Message 1010209 - Posted: 1 Jul 2010, 4:55:05 UTC - in response to Message 1010198.  
Last modified: 1 Jul 2010, 4:59:29 UTC

Looks as if your P4-3.0GHz is not processing.
It would be the pc that would output the most.
My brother has a P4-2.2Ghz dual core and it averages between
700 to 1000 credit a day.
Your 3Ghz only has 384Mbs of memory.
Memory can be found fairly cheap if you chop around.
You should have at least 1Gb.
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Message 1010212 - Posted: 1 Jul 2010, 4:59:03 UTC - in response to Message 1010198.  

I've got an older computer, definitely not 'state of the art' or 'latest and greatest', so it is not really crunching numbers so much as 'gently chewing' them. I would like to know if my computer is performing its tasks as quickly as it is able, or whether there are things I might do to speed it up. (without spending money)

I am not giving all my info yet, as someone may be able to point me to answers here in the forums or in the FAQs, tho I didnt find them.

Thanks

gimpel

Looks like you aren't running the optimised apps, might want to read thru " Optimized Applications and Other Binaries - Read..." thread in the sticky's on this page. Lots of people will help if you need it. Welcome to the boards.
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Josef W. Segur
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Message 1010222 - Posted: 1 Jul 2010, 5:50:49 UTC - in response to Message 1010198.  

I've got an older computer, definitely not 'state of the art' or 'latest and greatest', so it is not really crunching numbers so much as 'gently chewing' them. I would like to know if my computer is performing its tasks as quickly as it is able, or whether there are things I might do to speed it up. (without spending money)

I am not giving all my info yet, as someone may be able to point me to answers here in the forums or in the FAQs, tho I didnt find them.

Thanks

gimpel

Your 2.26 GHz Northwood P4 could certainly outperform my 1.6 GHz Willamette P4, which is slower and even older and has half as much L2 cache. We both have 512 MB RAM.

I see a lot of restarts in the tasks it has done, including the two Astropulse tasks which ended up erroring with an empty checkpoint file. Each restart does cost some extra time redoing initialization tasks, and there is always a risk that the checkpoint file cannot be read and wastes what time has previously been used. In the computing preferences there's a "Suspend work while computer is in use?" setting, most users find there's no noticeable impact to choosing "no". There's also "Suspend work if CPU usage is above \ 0 means no restriction \ Enforced by version 6.10.30+" with a default setting of 25% which most users feel is too low, setting either zero to completely defeat the option or a much higher percentage should be possible. The "CPU usage" that mentions is usage by some other program, not BOINC and SETI; the option was added mainly for corporate, school, or other similar situations where BOINC might not be allowed unless it unconditionally gets out of the way of what the computers were bought to do. There's also an option to leave tasks in memory when suspended, a yes setting might be practical unless you often use software which really needs almost all the installed RAM and swap file size is a problem.

My host is using optimized applications, I'm involved in those efforts but would be using the most efficient applications I could find even if I hadn't helped produce them. However, since automatic updates aren't possible when using anything other than the project supplied stock applications, you shouldn't go optimized unless you're willing to check back often and make changes when needed.
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Message 1010336 - Posted: 1 Jul 2010, 16:39:29 UTC - in response to Message 1010198.  

As others have already said, more RAM would be good (I had 2GB in my 3.2GHz P4) and running one of the Optimised Applications will also help. You may also have to put in a better CPU cooler, as the Optimised Apps do tend to run the CPU a bit harder and that means more heat - you'll only find out if it needs something better once you're running the Optimised App.



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Message 1010527 - Posted: 2 Jul 2010, 2:33:41 UTC
Last modified: 2 Jul 2010, 2:36:31 UTC

Thanks for the responses... I wondered how you guys knew so much about my system and then I found out. I think the AstroPulse tasks might have failed because they are beyond the capabilities of my computer? I am thinking Seti knows the capabilities of my system, and is sending work appropriate to it... I am reluctant to try those advanced aps yet. I did tweak the program to run even when I am using the system, and will see what happens when they give out more work.

gimpel

p.s. my system is a Dell Optiplex (the one that is in the news right now) but it is a refurbished machine, so I am hoping I am not going to fry it by running Seti.
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Message 1010614 - Posted: 2 Jul 2010, 8:53:16 UTC - in response to Message 1010527.  

Go with the optimised apps, they don't make any noticeable difference to the CPU heat, they work smarter, not harder. They use slightly different algorithms and the more advanced instruction set of the newer CPUs.

From experience, any PIII or better with 256mb of ram can run SETI. If you are ONLY running SETI, then thats fine. My old "space heaters" get the same RAC with 256 and 1gb (everything else being equal) If you want to use the machine for other stuff AND crunch, get some more RAM for sure.

So if your machine is crashing on AP units you may have a hardware issue, RAM, HD errors, cooling etc. Because the AP units are so long it's more likely that they will error out for random reasons when 9 out of 10 standard units might get though.

If you really want a boost, get a Nvidia CUDA graphics card, if your system board supports PCI-E expansion cards.

Ian
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Message 1010901 - Posted: 2 Jul 2010, 17:53:50 UTC - in response to Message 1010614.  

...
From experience, any PIII or better with 256mb of ram can run SETI. If you are ONLY running SETI, then thats fine. My old "space heaters" get the same RAC with 256 and 1gb (everything else being equal) If you want to use the machine for other stuff AND crunch, get some more RAM for sure.
...
Ian

My 200 MHz Pentium MMX host with 128 MB RAM does S@H Enhanced work just fine, though it takes about 1/4 the allowed deadline time. It's not fast enough for Astropulse work, and that amount of RAM would be marginal anyway for the stock application.

Gimpel, your P4 is certainly by design capable of doing Astropulse work, but when there are uncertainties about a host's reliability it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to risk running those longer tasks. You might go to the project preferences and set to accept work for only SETI@home Enhanced and make sure the "If no work for selected applications is available, accept work from other applications?" box is unchecked.
                                                                Joe
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Message 1011232 - Posted: 3 Jul 2010, 13:24:59 UTC

Josef Segur... you say that antiquated dinosaur takes bout 1/4 of allowed time... k... my computer had little to do during that three day server downtime, as i had not stockpiled WU's. Now the system has given me a stockpile. 1 WU was completed in 1min 47sec. It has been processing another WU for 16 1/2 hrs, with 41 hrs to go?! But the CPU time in the heads up display is only about 2 1/2 hrs?? Other WU's (14 of em) each show a 'time to completion' of 04:43:46??? Also, the cpu time on the heads up display is now close to real time, whereas last week the Cpu time was quite a bit slower, maybe by a factor of 10, than real time... as Vinnie used to say, 'I'm SOOOO conFUSED!!!'

anyone got some light to shed... I would like to get my own older system as productive as it can be to process and return work to the project...

regards...

gimpel
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Message 1011616 - Posted: 4 Jul 2010, 11:37:10 UTC - in response to Message 1011232.  
Last modified: 4 Jul 2010, 11:43:31 UTC

Josef Segur... you say that antiquated dinosaur takes bout 1/4 of allowed time... k... my computer had little to do during that three day server downtime, as i had not stockpiled WU's. Now the system has given me a stockpile. 1 WU was completed in 1min 47sec. It has been processing another WU for 16 1/2 hrs, with 41 hrs to go?! But the CPU time in the heads up display is only about 2 1/2 hrs?? Other WU's (14 of em) each show a 'time to completion' of 04:43:46??? Also, the cpu time on the heads up display is now close to real time, whereas last week the Cpu time was quite a bit slower, maybe by a factor of 10, than real time... as Vinnie used to say, 'I'm SOOOO conFUSED!!!'

anyone got some light to shed... I would like to get my own older system as productive as it can be to process and return work to the project...

regards...

gimpel


With the 'changes' that have been implemented, the estimation of completion times has been thrown way out. The only way to increase what you are doing without spending money is to install the optimized apps, and run the computer for longer each day.

However, as has been pointed out, you will need to manually check for updates to the software if there is a revision, only the stock apps will update themselves as it can be pushed through the Boinc code. Boinc itself will normally tell you if there is an updated version of Boinc available, but not install it for you.

There's not much else we can tell you, as you seem unwilling to give us anymore information.

If you are worried about frying it, you may need to pop the cover off and clean out as much dust as possible. Most 'normal' computer users don't do any of this kind of maintenance, but they also don't push their computers hard enough to matter. This kind of computing runs your computer much hotter, as you will probably know. It may bring the temperatures down enough to run Astropulse...

Giz.


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Message 1012003 - Posted: 5 Jul 2010, 6:21:31 UTC

'you seem unwilling to give us anymore information.' ??

what more information do you want?

gimpel
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Message 1012051 - Posted: 5 Jul 2010, 10:06:54 UTC

Completed and validated 1,823.09 209.28 0.30 SETI@home Enhanced v6.03

this describes a unit my computer crunched... The first # is Run time (sec), the second is CPU time (sec) and the third is Credit...

would someone please point me to where i can find explanation for how to understand what these #'s actually mean, as far as how well my computer is performing?... i looked and couldnt find the info.

gimpel
Nathaniel Lee, on being committed to a mental institution. (17th cent.)

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Message 1012065 - Posted: 5 Jul 2010, 11:19:22 UTC - in response to Message 1012051.  
Last modified: 5 Jul 2010, 12:05:54 UTC


No need to post this numbers - we can see the list:
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/results.php?hostid=5437618&offset=0&show_names=1&state=0

The task you look at:
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/result.php?resultid=1646259994

is not representative - it is noisy and ended fast with the notice:

SETI@Home Informational message -9 result_overflow
NOTE: The number of results detected exceeds the storage space allocated.

Flopcounter: 14179094997.696062

Spike count: 30
Pulse count: 0
Triplet count: 0
Gaussian count: 0
called boinc_finish

(this is not an error - just too many "signals" found (usually human made - radars near Arecibo))


"Normal" task is this:
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/result.php?resultid=1639098172

Stderr output
<core_client_version>6.10.56</core_client_version>
<![CDATA[
<stderr_txt>
setiathome_enhanced 6.02 DevC++/MinGW
libboinc: 6.3.6

Work Unit Info:
...............
WU true angle range is :  0.319286
Optimal function choices:
-----------------------------------------------------
name                
-----------------------------------------------------
              v_BaseLineSmooth (no other)
  v_vGetPowerSpectrumUnrolled2 0.00485 0.00000 
             sse1_ChirpData_ak 0.18874 0.00000 
            v_vTranspose4x8ntw 0.14680 0.00000 
                AK SSE folding 0.00323 0.00000 
Restarted at 0.22 percent.
Restarted at 0.22 percent.
Restarted at 1.03 percent.
Restarted at 1.03 percent.
Restarted at 1.29 percent.
..........
Restarted at 98.20 percent.
Restarted at 99.63 percent.
Restarted at 99.63 percent.

Flopcounter: 51913524657910.648000

Spike count:    2
Pulse count:    4
Triplet count:  0
Gaussian count: 3
called boinc_finish

</stderr_txt>
]]>


We see too many restarts (which slow down especially using the standard app)

Go to Computing preferences
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/prefs.php?subset=global

and set them this way:




After clicking Edit preferences the same looks like:




If you use local preferences set them in BOINC Manager





For some info about Optimized apps look:
Lunatics' Unified Installer (Optimized SETI)
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/forum_thread.php?id=54288&nowrap=true#994550

(Optimized apps compute 1.5 - 2.5 (150%-250%) times faster - depends on the CPU)


P.S.
Is your second computer actively running BOINC/SETI?:
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/show_host_detail.php?hostid=5437591


 


- ALF - "Find out what you don't do well ..... then don't do it!" :)
 
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Josef W. Segur
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Message 1012318 - Posted: 5 Jul 2010, 19:00:37 UTC - in response to Message 1012003.  

'you seem unwilling to give us anymore information.' ??

what more information do you want?

gimpel

Many of those who are active in this forum have computers doing nothing except SETI/BOINC, have tried to optimize their computers, or differ from typical computer users in other ways. To be able to give good advice, we need a general idea of what else you are doing on the system, whether it is left running all the time or turned off much of the time, how important you think SETI is relative to other activities, etc. More simply, some context within which to judge what's appropriate advice.

On a single core CPU system like yours, having Elapsed time much greater than CPU time is unusual. Elapsed time only counts the time periods the BOINC core client believes crunching is actually being done. If we can figure out the cause of that discrepancy, corrective suggestions will be possible.

SETI tasks running on CPU are at the lowest possible priority specifically so anything else you want to do with the computer gets as much time as it wants. WinXP might be running many background services which are slowing down SETI, an aggressive antivirus scanner or similar, streaming video from the internet or other CPU intensive online activity, etc. could be factors too.
                                                                 Joe
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Message 1012532 - Posted: 6 Jul 2010, 2:13:26 UTC

BilBg, i will have to re-read that several times to digest it... but i think i have my prefs set up that way now...

no, the second computer is not running seti... i am fixing that computer for a friend, and used seti to stress it to force the problem (overheating) to show itself...

Josef, I wish i had a bank of computers devoted to doing nothing but crunching numbers for seti, but i dont... My primary computer is the only computer I have working for seti. and is the computer that i use, too... at suggestions i received a few days ago, I set the computer to run seti even when I am using the computer, which is maybe three to five hours a day. I found a trick in the system to disable seti temporarily if i am using the system, and then allow seti to use the system when i am done. i am still testing that, to see if seti actually interferes with my activity, which at this time is merely browsing the web for a handful of hours a day...

I leave my system running all the time, so seti has the resources of my computer for about 20 hours a day... there may be tasks interrupting seti, and causing it to restart, but i see no evidence of it, after tweaking a few settings a few days ago...

but you said, (and i quote) 'On a single core CPU system like yours, having Elapsed time much greater than CPU time is unusual.' That is what I thought, and was the reason for my posting in the first place... 'If we can figure out the cause of that discrepancy, corrective suggestions will be possible.'

It seems that as more of a task is completed, the estimate to completion of the task is increasing... as well, i dont yet understand how 'cpu time' corresponds to 'real time'...

all for now...

regards...

gimpel
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Message 1012563 - Posted: 6 Jul 2010, 4:49:28 UTC - in response to Message 1012532.  

...
but you said, (and i quote) 'On a single core CPU system like yours, having Elapsed time much greater than CPU time is unusual.' That is what I thought, and was the reason for my posting in the first place... 'If we can figure out the cause of that discrepancy, corrective suggestions will be possible.'

It seems that as more of a task is completed, the estimate to completion of the task is increasing... as well, i dont yet understand how 'cpu time' corresponds to 'real time'...
...
gimpel

Your P4 runs at 2.26 GHz so there are 2.26 billion clocks per second. If there were two processes running each getting half the clocks it would take 2 seconds of real elapsed time for each process to get 2.26 billion clocks, also known as 1 second of CPU time.

I suggest you right click an empty spot on your task bar and select Task Manager. Switch to the Processes tab, there should be columns labelled CPU and CPU Time. If SETI is crunching, the Image Name column will show the executable name starting with setiathome. The corresponding entry in the GPU column shows the percentage of CPU clocks it is getting, ideally that should be around 99. The CPU Time value in that case would be growing about as fast as real time is passing.

If SETI is getting a lot less than 99%, look for which other processes are getting most of the rest. The name might give you a clue what those other things are, searching for it on the web would probably turn up more information than you want to know, or someone here would probably recognize it.

It's also possible that whatever is slowing SETI down isn't doing so steadily so won't be obvious. Checking for something showing a large amount of CPU Time might help in that case. But the listed processes are only those which are currently running, what's impacting SETI could also be something which starts up, uses CPU heavily, then shuts itself down. Still, it's worth checking this way. If it doesn't turn up anything someone will be able to suggest additional tools to try.
                                                                 Joe
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Message boards : Number crunching : Could my computer be doing better?


 
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