Big Cruncher Redux

Rosetta@home top computers image

For some people, distributed computing is a competitive sport. To them, the credits they receive for work done are the main motivator, and some will even pick which project to contribute to just by looking at how much credits are given out compared to other projects.

Personally, I’m into it because of the scientific potential, and I pick projects based on how much good I think they can do. I only monitor credits to make sure that all my computers are crunching properly. Still, a few months ago I was pleased to discover that my Mac Pro was the 4th fastest computer on the Rosetta@home project.

Because I recently overclocked that Mac Pro using a tool from ZDnet Germany, I checked the “top computers” page again and found that it was now #2 despite a more competitive field, and fairly close to #1, but still not catching up to it.

It took me a few days to realize that the #1 computer was actually a 16-core machine (with 64 gigs of RAM!), while my Mac Pro only has 8 cores. No wonder it was hard to catch up to!

Idle CPUs are sad little unproductive things, wasting their potential. Give yours something interesting to work on.

See also: Graphics Processing Units (GPUs): The Future of Scientific Distributed Computing

Update: Guess I should have waited a bit before posting this. I now officially have the single-computer doing the most work for Rosetta@home!

Rosetta@home top computers image


2 Responses to “Big Cruncher Redux”

  1. boredguy8 Says:

    Some of us have things like electric bills, which is why we let our CPU idle.

  2. Michael Graham Richard Says:

    It’s a choice, of course. I see it as a donation to science, and since we have fairly cheap hydro electricity here, the choice is even easier.

    And it’s not all or nothing: Recent versions of BOINC allow you to set CPU usage, so you could use only 30% of your idle cycles, or just one out of 2 cores, for example. Some people also decide to only crunch during the cold season.

    But unless your computer is put in sleep mode or turned off completely, even at idle it is using a fair bit of power. The way I see it, you can pay for that power and do zero work with it, or you can use more power but have it do productive scientific work.

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