Suggested hardware tweak

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Mark Seeger

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Message 1944820 - Posted: 16 Jul 2018, 23:40:53 UTC
Last modified: 16 Jul 2018, 23:42:42 UTC

Hi Everyone,

I successfully enabled my motherboard's integrated GPU for enhanced SETI processing. Most motherboards come with a low-end Intel GPU, and they're surprisingly productive at SETI; they typically ship with this GPU disabled. I have twin NVidia TITAN Xp (SLI connected), and most people have a separate graphics card many times better performing than the Intel GPU.

However, the Intel GPU is there, and, it's quite productive, so why not use it? I have a thread here that discusses it, and results:

I can post more results as I'm now even more impressed with it's SETI performance, as well as it's OpenCL productivity across the various applications I use (even games)--again, despite it NOT being my primary GPU (it's not even connected to a display). So, for anyone keen to get as much performance from their PC for SETI (or any relevant computing task(s)), this may be useful.

3 Steps to enabling your Intel GPU as an additional OpenCL co-processor:

1. Enable Intel GPU in BIOS (this is not easy as the menus are all different as are the names for functions; mine was buried under menus that had nonsense names)--there may be associated settings we can discuss (mine, for instance, had a selection for how much shared memory to allocate, which I set to the max: 1GB), as well as other things.

2. Download the latest Windows drivers (from Intel)

3. Download the latest OpenCL drivers (from Intel)

Thanks to Jord for helping me!

Overall system performance increase is about 3-5% for me (but that is relative to my twin TITAN Xp GPUs, so lower-end cards will proportionally show a larger percentage gain. My MacBook Pro (2018 model has an Intel HD 630 and an ATI Radeon Pro 560, and the intel adds 11% to the overall SETI productivity. Pretty fun, especially if have OCD (as I do) and wish to optimize your setup.

Happy to answer any questions.


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Profile Tom M
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Message 1946811 - Posted: 29 Jul 2018, 14:14:11 UTC - in response to Message 1944820.  

The last time I tried to run the integrated GPU on my box it appeared to slow the rest of the cpu cores down (I think).

I guess I need to retest this since you had such good luck.


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Message 1960953 - Posted: 19 Oct 2018, 15:54:47 UTC - in response to Message 1944820.  
Last modified: 19 Oct 2018, 16:03:11 UTC

I also notice that crunching on the integrated Intel GPU significantly degrades the performance of both the CPU and the dedicated GPU tasks. On a new host that I'm tinkering with, I started by running tasks on all three "processors" (CPU, iGPU, and dGPU). I wasn't satisfied with the processing rates, so, after a few days, on whim, I turned-off the integrated HD 630 GPU, and the overall processing rate of the machine increased. We can easily spot which day that happened on the following graph:

The effectiveness of the integrated GPU really seems dependent on the machine. I use the Intel HD 520 GPUs on a couple of my laptops for a small net increase in overall production (despite slower CPU processing), but for the host shown above, the iGPU appears to create enough traffic in the system to harm the performance of the more powerful dedicated GPU, even when running both GPUs by themselves (no CPU tasks).

Alone, the Intel GPUs really shine. The higher-end models have impressive mid-range specs on paper. In fact, the HD 520 in one laptop with a "switchable graphics" feature significantly outperforms the machine's "high-performance" mobile Radeon GPU for SETI crunching. However, as soon as I start tasks on the CPU as well, the processing rates for both the integrated GPU and CPU dramatically decrease.

These observations are not related to power budgets. Though it seems like a common challenge with integrated GPUs, I tuned the voltages on all the hosts described above to eliminate any power-level throttling. The saturation of the CPU cache and memory bandwidth by the integrated GPU, as discussed in other threads, appears to significantly impact system efficiency.

One type of system may experience superior results with the Intel GPUs: Macs with the Intel Iris or Iris Pro/Plus GPUs get an extra level of system cache ("L4", if you will) designed to augment the capabilities of the integrated graphics. The extra cache capacity may help to mitigate the performance problems seen with Intel GPUs in other systems. Unfortunately, I don't own a Mac with one of these GPU models to test this theory.
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Questions and Answers : Windows : Suggested hardware tweak

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