Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Look At Me, I'm Doing Science

Last year, before Christmas, one of my fellow team mates in the Folding@Home team I'm in (number 33, HardOCP) who goes by the lovely nick of Tigerbiten, asked me whether I might be interested in some of the old PCs he used to use for the project and has recently upgraded. When I heard that they were quad-core Q6600 processors including mainboard, RAM and PSU I jumped at the chance. A few days ago I received a rather heavy box, weighing in at around 10 kg.

Inside the box I found two identical Intel Socket 775 Gigabyte mainboards, two Q6600 CPUs (G0 stepping), two sets of 2x2 GB DDR2 Corsair RAM, a Leadtek 9800GX2 GPU, a 550 Watt Gigabyte PSU, and a rather questionable 750 Watt XClio PSU from their so-called 'Great Power' series. Including Fuhjyyu main capacitor. Stellar. I'm not one to question a gift horse, though :)

I cannibalized an old Athlon K7 system to put one Q6600 system in. As it's an older AOpen ATX case it only has room for two 80 mm exhaust fans, which greatly restricts its cooling options. The 9800GX2 videocard also exhausts partially into the case, so it's a few hundred Watt of heat it has to dissipate. Not an easy task, and the temperatures I'm getting aren't stellar either, ranging from 85C on the GPU cores during load to 45C idle, 70C load on the CPU cores. A new case and/or CPU cooler might help a lot. I looked at the Antec 200 and 300 cases and they seem to be great at dumping heat outside the case (two 120 mm, one 140 mm exhaust fan). Just wish they could be controlled by the mainboard's fan headers. And that I had 50 Euro lying around to buy it with :P

It took me a while to get the system set up. First I had some major issues with the optical drives of the old K7 system. The new mainboard's BIOS would first not detect them at all, then only the CD-ROM drive, but it was so slow it was nearly impossible to get Windows installed using it. Finally during last Sunday I used a USB stick install of Windows XP 64-bit which worked like a charm. Thanks to this experience I have become quite enamored of foregoing the use of optical media completely for OS installs in favour of a more 21st century method, with easy customization, no coasters and less storage space required.

Currently thanks to this new system my daily production for the Folding@Home project has jumped from about 9,000 Points Per Day (PPD) to around 24,000 PPD. The temperatures on the GPU and CPU have me somewhat worried though, since I run this system 24/7. At least it isn't summer yet.

Two nights ago I had this new system running fully configured for the first time through the night. At around midnight the temperature alarm for the CPU suddenly sounded, waking me up from what appeared to be a nightmare which I don't recall. I had my hands clenched on my chest and I was sweating profoundly again. As it turned out, the temperature alarm was because the BIOS was set to sound it if the CPU reached 70 degrees. After changing it to 90C I was able to enjoy a more peaceful night.

Saturday I had another torture appointment at the beauty salon I frequent. Afterwards while drinking a cup of tea I got into a conversation with another woman, who turned out to have her own company as well. Then when the beautician mentioned my impending interview for the country's largest newspaper the woman asked me what this interview was for, so I told her.

As chance would have it, she was quite interested, and told me she has a friend who works at a large commercial TV channel, called SBS. If I want to she is prepared to ask this friend of hers whether I can appear in a show on that channel. I told her that I'd love the opportunity, but that I would first have to see how the deal with the Avro works out. She'll call me on Friday by which time I should know whether I'm either okay-ed with the Avro and can/can't appear on SBS as well, or they don't want me at the Avro after all and I can appear on SBS. I expect a phone call from the Avro today.

Monday was my interview for 'De Telegraaf', or more specific the accompanying magazine 'Vrouw'. It went quite well, as soon as I got over the fact that this female journalist smelled quite strongly of cigarette smoke. The focus with this interview was far more on my emotional experience of the past few years and how I saw myself progressing emotionally. Previous interviews had been more about the pure facts with less feelings mixed in, so I had to shift gears a bit, but I think I managed well enough. The interview took all together about 1.5 hour. I expect the first draft of the article this week.

Pieter left Monday morning for Germany, where he has to attend some meetings together with a few of his colleagues for a project. He should return home today again at around 7 PM. The dogs surely do miss him. The past two days they have been okay, but today they can't stop barking and howling, and acting nervous in general. It's like they can smell their owner is coming home today and can't wait for it. It just reinforced for me why cats are much better than dogs. A cat would never get this upset about its owner not being present for a day or two. Dogs are just weak :D

Anyway, tomorrow morning is my photoshoot appointment. I got told by the journalist on Monday that this photographer is quite an 'energetic' woman, to which I responded that in case she hadn't noticed it yet, I can be quite energetic as well :)

The photographer will arrive here at 11 AM, after which we'll discuss the exact setup. I think my room is only in a state of mild disarray at this point, only got to clean up a few more things. Can't wait for tomorrow.

Also can't wait for Pieter to return home tonight. I do like being around him, and while I can manage on my own it'll be quite pleasant to have him home again.

Woof, or something ;)



grim4593 said...

I would suggest not running that new Q6600 system until you find a better way of cooling it. 70C is above the processor's acceptable temperature limits. I don't want you damaging a new chip.

zakir ahmed said...

Erm why dont you keep the cpu box outside ur house.. Europe is in midst of coldwave anyway :D hehe..

How are you now btw :). Great to know you have so many int/photoshoots lined up.All the best for them :)

Maya Posch said...

grim - It's around 65C now, so still pushing it, but better. I'm considering getting a new case and possibly a new HSF for it. Going to cost a fair bit, though.

zakir - And have people steal it? No thanks :P

I'm okay now, I guess, just got a lot of media attention at this point which takes a fair bit of energy. Got possibly 2 TV appearances lined up for the coming few months. Will tell more about this once I know more :)