A word on energy

Discussion in 'Distributed Computing' started by visor, Nov 16, 2003.

  1. visor macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2003
    in bed
    haven't you been wondering about how much real money you sponsor stanford with when folding?

    Well, I have. I've always been wondering how much energy an idling computer uses up, does it matter to have the CPU running or not, etc.

    After the most recent, extremely oversized energy bill, I went out to buy an eneryusagemeter. Very nice tool, you just plug it between your power outlet, and plug, and it reports the Watts used at this very moment. It also has a little cost calculator. I don't much need a cost calculator, as calulating is quite simle here. 1 Watt*Year is ~1 euro. Simple enough.

    So OK, I have a little file server linux box with 3hd's half a gig ram not much graphics, a 1300MHZ AMDDuron.

    Now AMD is known to be an energy waster. That is because the Mainboard suppliers can't setup their boards properly and when doing real idle- most of the mainly cheap mainboards fail in one way or the other.

    So I took my little measuring gadget, unplugged the linux box (Uptime about half a year...) and started measuring.

    90Watt at normal idle usage
    115Watt at full folding power
    55Watt with a neat idle task running at nice 19

    Summing it up - it gets down to 60 euros spent soley for folding a year on this box. I found this a bit much, so I stopped.

    Now the box was sitting there, humming silently waiting for me to play with it, and using it's 55W completely useless.
    What a pitty. Coulnd't there be a way of throtteling the CPU power used for folding? i don't care if a work unit takes 2 or 4 days - the thing is always on, so it avererages output way above any work computer that is only running 8 hours a day.

    So I started to play with the idle task. Usually, it's not a process that needs to be running. But it can, in fact, be a process, that tells the cpu - well, to keep it down.

    Running at the same priority as folding, one can control how much percent are left for folding by using a variable amount of idle tasks.
    1 idle task 50% folding
    2 idle tasks 33% folding
    So now I'm folding at 33%. The CPU keeps it cool, running at about 35°C, which is way cooler than a normal idle AMD cpu without explicit idletask would run, It actually does something when running, it's not disturbing my work, and at 20euro/year It stays affordable. Also because I exchanged my old 20Watt router against a 5watt airport which was on anyway.
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I'd been wondering exactly the same thing, so I did some tests.

    The DP1000 G4 I have at work uses pretty much the same amount of power whether it's working hard or idle, so running folding with spare cycles while I'm sitting in front of the machine for 8 hours a day wastes zero energy.

    The dual G5 I have at home is a different story, though: When it's on but not doing much with the processor, it draws about 170W; when going full blast, such as when running Folding (in fact, that's about the only situation I've ever managed to max it out with), it draws 325W.

    That means that the difference between typing this message, and typing this message with Folding running is 155W. Even if you assume that regular use kicks the power draw up 35W and that between my wife and I the computer is only on 6 hours a day (which isn't accurate), that still comes out at nearly US$50/year for Folding. Not free, and that's why I generally don't run it.

    If I were to leave the computer on specifically for folding, since it draws only 9W asleep, that would cost me $1 A DAY to fold (on top of my regular use). That is not cheap.

    A couple more interesting facts: Turning off nap mode increases idle power consumption by 45W, but "turning off" a processor makes almost no difference. Most impressive, though, is when you turn the computer off, it draws 0.0W--below the threshold my meter (which has one decimal place) could measure. That's a big difference from the nearly 10W my old G4 drew even when it was off (in fact, it only used 3W more asleep than off). So unlike almost all computers, with a G5 off really is off (a physical switch of some sort internally?).
  3. vannote macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2003
    The numbers you came up with are similar to those published in the Stanford F@H FAQ. I don’t think anyone claimed it was free. How much did you pay for your usage meter? :D

    While personally; I am really not that worried about $4+ per month (per machine) breaking my budget to contribute. You may be able to drop this $50 into a deduction category on your taxes as some sort of charitable contribution. But don't quote me on that.

    Best Regards
  4. Vlade macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2003
    Meadville, PA
    I'm not paying my power bill, and until I am I will probably leave my comps folding (there on all day anyways basically). But that is more expensive than I thought!
  5. mc68k macrumors 68000


    Apr 16, 2002
    the key is to take over machines you don't own.

    u get more work done and it doesn't cost u anything...

    look at every machine u come across as a potential target
  6. Kermit macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2003
    Sweden, Scandinavia
  7. Sailfish macrumors regular

    Oct 13, 2003
    I had a Lombard running Seti, poor thing was only cranking out a WU every 27-29 hours on 24/7.

    It was costing too much effort to keep going for that paltry amount, so I shut it down.

    Too much electricity and too much heat.

    Once one gets used to a Seti WU every few hours and a Folding WU every few days on a Dual 2 Ghz, there's no going back.

    Stanford has been giving me some HUGE proteins lately.

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