Updates 2022/2023
Published: 2023-02-13

2023-02-13 Hardware updates

Miscellaneous notes on recent hardware changes:

  • node01 has been upgraded to a Fractal Pop Air chassis and an Evga Supernova 650W 80+G PSU
  • My personal desktop is now crunching, for FAH only
    • This is the only machine we have crunching FAH on CPU
    • By end-of-week it will be upgraded with a 3060 Ti
  • One of the GPUs acquired over the pandemic, which did many hours of crunching for OPNG and then FAH, is being put out to pasture. Its fans have developed an annoying rattle, even at idle, so it’s no longer fit as a spare for future donations. RIP Galax 1650 EX

2023-01-19 Upgrade cycle begun

We are down to three compute nodes now. But we are still planning to increase the number of modern GPUs from one to two, and then possibly to three.

Another change is that our nodes are going to be upgraded to be less like “cattle” and more like “pets”. This is because they’re going to also become local storage nodes in a Ceph cluster. That will happen after the AM4 to AM5 transition, but before that they are getting new chassis and PSUs.

The first of these upgrades has now happened. We’re standardizing on the Fractal Pop Air case. It’s a good airflow case, which is compact but supports full ATX boards. Which is one more change that will be happening with the move to AM5. After starting on Mini-ITX (optimizing for space) and then moving to uATX (optimizing for cost), our nodes will now be built around ATX in order to support more NVMe devices.

This will be a slow process, without a deadline or exact timeline, but updates here will continue at least as major upgrades happen. And as always, we’ll be crunching.

2022-12-30 CPU drawdown

CPU-based grid computing is waning. Wee’re not doing be doomsayers and describe it as “dying”, but we think the combined forces of utility computing and GPGPU have brought us into the era where CPU-based grid compute projects are on the decline.

Certainly the projects operating in the spaces that we care about – medicine and the sciences – are fewer than they were when we started crunching in 2017. And some of the ones that are left have problems of their own.

As a result, team Firepear is reducing its compute farm from six nodes to three, cutting our CPU compute resources in half.

On the other hand, we plan to add (at least) one more GPU of (at least) equivalent performance to our current 3060 Ti. Projects like Folding are still going strong, have good leadership, and have healthy communities.

We don’t plan to go anywhere; we’re gonna keep contributing for as long as someone needs us. But we feel that it’s time to contribute in a different way.

2022-11-02 GPU shuffle

Today we replaced four GTX 1650 GPUs and one GTX 750 Ti with a single RTX 3060 Ti. This new card does almost 2X the work of those five old cards, and does it for roughly 2/3 the energy.

This is a win not just for FAH, but also for the CPU-based BOINC projects that we’re attached to, because it let us bump up CPU wattage (and thus clocks) on 5 out of 6 nodes. It’s even a win for our electriciy bill, because the total system usage is still about 50W lower than it was – even after turning up the CPUs a bit.

2022-10-30 WGC update

The WGC transition has not gone well, in several ways, and seemingly for many reasons. That’s why it’s worth noting that today, for the first time since the shutdown in February, we have updated our WCG stats.

That means that another 10 CPU years of WUs down for Team Firepear. Actually, a good bit more than that, but WGC is only counting WUs from the past 3-ish weeks – none of the “testing period” WUs have been aggregated yet.

Still, we’re very happy to be seeing sustained movement on that front.

2022-08-22 Back at it

WCG is still… testing? in limbo? something.

In the meanwhile, we’ve added DENIS@Home and Milkyway@Home as permanent projects and are crunching on those. Which means that FAH is running again as well.

2022-06-01 Downtime

We’ve shut down crunching for most of the past month, while WCG has been down. We’ll be back when they are.

2022-04-02 More power and less power

Since the last update, all nodes have been upgraded to a 16-core configuration. The 3900Xs, after long and meritorious service, have all been retired. They are replaced with 5950Xs.

Also, summer is now approaching, and the machines are in an un-air-conditioned garage. It is fortunate that the garage is on the side of the house which receives the least amount of sun every day, but still it will get very warm in there. In an effort to continue 24/7 crunching through the summer I will be adjusting PPT limits downward to try to keep things acceptibly cool.

My first adjustment was made today by reducing the PPT of all nodes to 65W – not the AMD Eco Mode “65W”, which is really 88W, but an actual hard cap of 65W package power use. I’ll let this ride for some days (at least until it warms up a bit later in the week) to see what sort of steady-state temperatures and average CPU clocks are reached.

For later comparison, with PPT set to roughly 85W, steady-state temps were around 70-72C most of the time, and pushing north of 75C in the warm afternoons.

Older updates

For older news, check out our 2021 updates.