bit-tech.net

What is Folding and Why Does it Matter?

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liratheal 15th June 2009, 11:36 Quote
Excellent write-up - Very thorough!

I must say, though, the PC clients could do with a bit of visual tweaking - I know it's not the point, but they're so boring to look at when compared to the PS3 client.
D-Cyph3r 15th June 2009, 11:42 Quote
I still dont get it. I know i'm gonna get alot of hate thrown my way for this, but I just cant see how all these millions of CPU and GPU cores running 24/7, using stupid amounts of electricity is a good thing when, from the outside, it seems most folders are more interested in climbing ranks or showing off their e-peen PPD than actually aiding medical science.

Considering this is the "worlds most powerful supercomputer" i'd expect huge medical advances every year, but has FoH actually cured any diseases yet? And at what cost?


Again, just an outsiders point of view.
Tim S 15th June 2009, 11:54 Quote
F@H has only been running for 9 years... as stated in the article, it takes at least 10 years to develop a drug (if not longer) and that's after enough data has been collected.
p3n 15th June 2009, 11:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
Excellent write-up - Very thorough!

I must say, though, the PC clients could do with a bit of visual tweaking - I know it's not the point, but they're so boring to look at when compared to the PS3 client.

The UI really is irrelevant, as the point leaderboard types will tell you - misused cycles!

I stopped folding when I went to uni as my room had the hot water pipes running straight through it; i'd never pick it up again until someone works out how to create hydrogen cheaply (and electicity prices are irrelevant).
steveo_mcg 15th June 2009, 12:01 Quote
I still unsure when it came to F@H given the cost involved would it not be better to donate the delta in your power bill plus the cost of (some of) the equipment to an institution to run a super computer.

I recognise this would not be as much fun and the e-peen (if you'll excuse the phrase) is a part of this fun and with out this the project wouldn't have as many supporters. But it seems very inefficient to donate your money via the tech and power companies and the government takes it share of this also. If you were to give the money directly there would be much more of it going round and far fewer companies taking its share as profit and the charity could claim tax relief from it.
d3fiant 15th June 2009, 12:02 Quote
First comment, thanks for taking the time to write this article, it is extremely interesting to understand the background behind the solution.

I've always admired the concept but the catch here is with the increasing importance of carbon footprints and the like it is a trade-off against each other. My day job is to handle capacity management for a global company who have commited to being carbon neutral and apart from the kudos of saying you are helping medical research it would be a very hard job for me to justify running such an application on our environment. Now scale that down to the home user, it is easy to miss this per user but scale this up and ur up against the seemingly global push to cut power usage. I doubt it is in their interest to do so but someone should do a brief study on the impact to see if the results justify the usage, it could open the door to more users, or possibly shut the door on the future of this project, a very hard decision I suppose. Just my 2pence anways :)
liratheal 15th June 2009, 12:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by p3n
The UI really is irrelevant, as the point leaderboard types will tell you - misused cycles!

I stopped folding when I went to uni as my room had the hot water pipes running straight through it; i'd never pick it up again until someone works out how to create hydrogen cheaply (and electicity prices are irrelevant).

I know, in all reality, the UI is the least of their concerns - I just like filling unused space on my desktop, and something to distract from the horribly static forums - It helps if it's pretty :B
r4tch3t 15th June 2009, 12:39 Quote
I have been folding for about 5 years on and off, I think it is a good use of spare resources if you have them spare. Folding may use electricity, but it helps to heat my flat, I'm cold at the moment because the GPU client isn't running.

As a responce to D-Cyph3r
Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Cyph3r
I still dont get it. I know i'm gonna get alot of hate thrown my way for this, but I just cant see how all these millions of CPU and GPU cores running 24/7, using stupid amounts of electricity is a good thing when, from the outside, it seems most folders are more interested in climbing ranks or showing off their e-peen PPD than actually aiding medical science.

Considering this is the "worlds most powerful supercomputer" i'd expect huge medical advances every year, but has FoH actually cured any diseases yet? And at what cost?


Again, just an outsiders point of view.
Compare it to a game of football, you could just have the game finish when the first goal is scored, but if you want to see the actual ability of the players you have to watch the whole season, different games against different teams each one plays out differently.
If they just folded a protein once, it wouldn't give them much information about the process, but if they fold the same protein under different conditions a million times then you have some good data. Also just looking at one protein wont do much good as there are thousands if not millions or more different proteins that can cause harm if they fold incorrectly.

Also think about previous advances in technology, it cost billions of dollars to keep the tech industry going and it uses massive amounts of resources, but we get computers and other technology that helps our lives become easier and more pleasant. If they didn't invent the microchip, we would still be hand building cars that have no automatic transmission/GPS/Radio etc.

Basically all advances have to cost something, and using spare CPU cycles doesn't cost that much for the average person and every little bit counts.

Also, were not too far off 20 million points for CPChimps.
Jipa 15th June 2009, 13:45 Quote
I'm all in for using SPARE computing power for this (well not all in as I'm deffo not doing it), but when people build expensive, dedicated computers, even farms just for all the @Home-stuff, it just goes beyond my understanding. Maybe I'm just a self-centered poor *****, but I can't even remotely justify the money spent on such hobby...

And ofc it's none of my business how and why people spend their money, don't even bother jumping on me about it :)
RTT 15th June 2009, 15:08 Quote
Gotta agree, I personally can't justify FAH due to the extra electricity it burns. I've always thought along the same lines as steveo_mcg - I see donating the cash as a better method.

:(
CardJoe 15th June 2009, 15:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jipa
I'm all in for using SPARE computing power for this (well not all in as I'm deffo not doing it), but when people build expensive, dedicated computers, even farms just for all the @Home-stuff, it just goes beyond my understanding. Maybe I'm just a self-centered poor *****, but I can't even remotely justify the money spent on such hobby...

And ofc it's none of my business how and why people spend their money, don't even bother jumping on me about it :)
Matticus 15th June 2009, 16:01 Quote
I am on the fence with folding.

I can see why it is a good cause, but I can also see that sending the money you spend on hardware and electricity directly to the cause would be of a lot more benefit. But most people do it because they get the points, if they can do something they like doing while helping, no matter how little it is a worthwhile thing to do.

If you suggest that everyone who folds just donates I think you will find that a very small percentage would actually donate. So while it is an inefficient way of doing things, it is basically the only way it is going to get done by the general public.
smc8788 15th June 2009, 16:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matticus
If you suggest that everyone who folds just donates I think you will find that a very small percentage would actually donate.

This.

The success of the project so far is due to the fusion of people's interest in technology with wanting to help a good cause. The points the project provides are merely a benchmark, like we use to judge all hardware, in order to gauge how effective different hardware is and how much you are actually helping. People can then tweak their systems using this benchmark so they are the most effective folding machines they can be.

If the project relied solely on donations then I don't think it would be anywhere near the stage it is at today, and succeeds in drawing people in that would otherwise have turned a blind eye. People like to see where and how the money they have invested is being used, and folding is a very accessible, tangible way of doing that, with almost immediate results on your screen.

I'm also not sure how much more efficient a 'supercomputer' would be in terms of energy usage (if anyone has some data on that in terms of PPD per Watt I'd be interested to see it), as not all folding machines are equal, and those that build dedicated folding rigs generally only use the most efficient hardware for the job.
Xir 15th June 2009, 17:31 Quote
...sooo SETI@home may help us detect the aliens before they detect us, isn't that important?
:D
;)
The boy 4rm oz 15th June 2009, 17:52 Quote
Very nice article, very thorough and accurate.

I used to fold all the time on my main rig until dad started complaining the power bills were so high, I blamed it on the new plasma (draws 500w constant lol). Now I only fold when I leave my PC downloading or am actually working on it (word, excel etc).
Jenny_Y8S 15th June 2009, 19:03 Quote
A very "pro folding" article, not a single mention of the huge energy consumption of folding rigs left on high load for hours.
But then if CPC/Bit-Tech displayed a ballanced view to folding it may affect their core market of tech heads and magazine buyers.

I agree with Matticus, folding is a way for worthy causes to get their research done "on the cheap", and there is nothing wrong with that if you ignore the impact of all the energy use.

Donating would likely be a much better option, but then they wouldn't get their numbers crunched as quickly as who would be donating?

I'm not going to say stop folding though, but I am uneasy with people folding for points not results.
LeMaltor 15th June 2009, 20:09 Quote
If it wasn't done for e-peenis i would join in.
-EVRE- 15th June 2009, 20:35 Quote
For all of you that complain about the 'energy usage' need to take a macro look at things..
If they are doing the computations on their own computers, arnt they using and paying for the energy anyway?

You want to donate money to the cause instead of burning the power through your outlet, power that will need to be paid for by donations?
Okay, considering the cost of a PC... thats say.. only $500-600 USD. How many people will it take to donate enough money to build a super computer.. a super computer that will be outdated in how long?

I see it as a much more viable economic model for scientists and donaters to use hardware's spare clock cycles than to purchase new hardware for only research use.

My computer pulls 115 watts idle, when folding it pulls 280 watts.
*(btw my computer is no slouch, a lesser computer will pull a lot less from the grid)
(280x24)/1000= 6.7kw hrs a day @ $0.08 a kw hr = $0.54 a day x 30 = $16.13 a month vs:
(115x24)/1000=2.76kw hrs a day @ $0.08 a kw hr = $0.22 a day x 30 = $6.62 a month.
So I donate $9.50 a month to develop cures.

Is it worth it? I think so.
-EVRE-
Jipa 15th June 2009, 21:09 Quote
I think most people are just saying "naa" to the dedicated rigs here... And 280 Watts is a far cry from the power consumption of a dedicated rig with multiple graphics cards crunching away 24/7. The donation system is highly theoretical, as indeed it's a hobby for many people... Anyway I'd say that at a reasonable price range a "single" super computer would offer better energy efficiency and more computing power than the home PCs.

Also I just came to think that is Green Electricity commonly known around the world? I mean, can people pay for renewable energy? Atleast here in Finland one can do that, which kinda makes wasting electricity a bit lesser downside.
jamesthebard 15th June 2009, 22:19 Quote
I have two 'main' rigs and the trusty ol' PS3. It used to tear at me about the enormous amounts of electricity that I burned through, but after some internal debate and a few adult beverages it was simple:

I blow more money on stupid crap than on the extra money going towards electricity. Why not?
robi386 15th June 2009, 23:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
If it wasn't done for e-peenis i would join in.
Well, you can do it for whatever cause you want, we don't need to see your e-peenis, you know? ;)

Competition and trying to prove something often has beneficial results for innovation and progress.
Competing for points might seems silly to you, but it gets the job done. Hell, it gets the job done better!
Good luck with asking for donations, as others have already mentioned...

Energy consumption, CO2 and all that.. it's relevant, but I think it should mostly be approached from a different perspective; save power where the waiste is obvious and unjustified, work towards using renewable energy etc.
confusis 16th June 2009, 05:20 Quote
The energy consumption and carbon footprint is justified IMHO, because when the solutions are found, the extra energy consumed and the like froim caring for the afflicted would decrease. Trust me, as I have two alzheimers and parkinsons afflicted grandparents, it takes a LOT more time, money and energy to care for them. Short term loss, long term gain.

Oh, and here in New Zealand, a vast majority of the power consumed is renewable (hydro, thermal and wind power). Next rig I build will be multi core, multi gpu to help this cause along. While Im using it for other tasks of course. If i'm not actively using the pc, it gets switched off.

Re: donate the power cost. It's a lot easier for us in foriegn countries to donate cycles than donate money. Im not using the cycles when I am browsing the net or word processing so might as well put them to use.
The boy 4rm oz 16th June 2009, 07:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by confusis

Oh, and here in New Zealand, a vast majority of the power consumed is renewable (hydro, thermal and wind power). Next rig I build will be multi core, multi gpu to help this cause along. While Im using it for other tasks of course. If i'm not actively using the pc, it gets switched off.

Re: donate the power cost. It's a lot easier for us in foriegn countries to donate cycles than donate money. Im not using the cycles when I am browsing the net or word processing so might as well put them to use.

Yep, it's kinda the same here in Australia also, we have a lot of solar and wind farms and a thermal energy farm now. I'm the same as you, when I am using my PC for basic things I will fold, but when I don't need to use it it gets turned off. Plus, my water cooling heats my room up a fair bit also lol so I turn off my PC when I can. I do fold overnight with my laptop though, uses hardly any power, has pretty good specs and I can actually sleep with it running.
Jamie 16th June 2009, 10:59 Quote
I think someone should calculate the average energy consumed and cost for one working unit, then multiply it by the total number of units processed thus far.

I think that would be an interesting statistic we can compare against the actual gain from this project so far.
mctigger 16th June 2009, 12:53 Quote
Good Article,

I can see the points with the extra power being used when leaving a dedicated rig to fold, which would put me off, but I would consider just running the folding client, when i was either working on my machine, or it was sitting idle... I wouldn't run it when the machine wasn't required to be on...
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