What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

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What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby aardvark_admin » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:15 am

This column is archived at: http://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2017/0829.shtml

If it was simply a check-box on your device or computer, would you donate all your spare CPU cycles to a worthy cause such as scientific or medical research?

Yes, it can be done now by downloading and installing the SETI @ home or other software -- but might it be worth making such functionality an integral part of all OS distros? Might that not encourage a much greater up-take by the public?

Just what effect would a few million more petaFLOPs make in the quest for our better understanding of science?
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby hagfish » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:23 am

I ran Seti At Home for a while. It ran when the interface was idle (ie, when a screensaver would normally show up) and it trashed my CPUs at 100%. The fans would spin up, and a wave of heat would pour out the back of the machine. Not exactly 'idle' CPU cycles...

I think a bigger waste of processing power is the myriad crypto currencies, slowly turning perfectly good electricity into heat and pizza. I think blockchain-backed currencies are likely the wave of the future, but all those miners running all those graphics cards seems like such a waste.
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby Weasel » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:38 am

Makes it sound like these idle cpu cycles are somehow "free", what you're really asking here is why don't I donate my electricity to someone or something. And the answer to that is I already give away half of my income to various taxes and things, go and ask the people collecting this money for some of it :-)

Secondly, most systems these days are smart with power management. When idle they throttle back CPU clock speeds. Macs are especially good at this to eek out maximum battery life.

Third, donating "idle" systems to intensive tasks when not used is perhaps not a very efficient "creation" of processing power from consumer systems vs something dedicated and optimized to the task in a data center.

Fourth, consider the environmental impact of this idea and how much CO2 gets inefficiently generated running SETI or what ever when not in use.
Last edited by Weasel on Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby GSVNoFixedAbode » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:02 am

Ran Seti@ when it first came out: great as an alternative screen saver and the display actually meant something. Then they went and royally pooched it by switching to the more generic BOINC engine. I lasted less than 2 weeks with BOINC before giving up on the whole thing.
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby phord » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:12 am

I need all the CPU power I can get for viewing most websites these days.

Now that Adobe Flash is not used as much, the web browser needs all the CPU it can get, so that it can rudely start playing videos while I'm trying read the text.
Everyone hated Adobe Flash, but it now turns out that the web browsers are even more CPU hungry for video playback.

Scrolling through the text becomes very jerky, as layouts readjust to insert additional banal ads.
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby phill » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:25 am

im with hag on the coin mining thing
esp after years of one of my smarter satellite decoders turning on and doing something a short time after i turned it off
in principle its a great idea for community problem solving
in this world the greedy crims would soon suck it dry
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby roygbiv » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:26 pm

My sentiments are with Hag and Phil on this one. The same could be said of my car, sitting out there all night doing nothing when someone could be using it for some charitable cause. I am more comfortable just letting it sit there thanks.
Perhaps we have been round the block a few too many times, but we go to the nth degree with userids, passwords, encrypting links etc to keep people out of our computers. And then let someone in to 'do something' which is very CPU intense and trust that is is all in a good cause :roll: It is just another preventable issue that could go (badly) wrong.
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby mad » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:30 pm

>At the time I write this, the "total average computing" figure is almost a petaFLOP.

and in 2013 you could have run that job in 18 hours for USD $33K on AWS
https://arstechnica.com/information-tec ... -petaflop/

I suspect it is considerably cheaper today, and like everything these days its getting cheaper and easier to rent cycles rather than own them

BTW the Watson quote is likely apocryphal,
http://freakonomics.com/2008/04/17/our- ... computers/
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby Muscular Jam » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:38 pm

aardvark_admin wrote:it might hike my power bill by a hundred bucks or so a year but that's not something I'd notice
Really? Care to send me a hundred bucks?
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Re: What a waste of CPU (29 Aug, 2017)

Postby Perry » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:14 am

What does such a thing (as SETI) do to Internet loadings?
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