Maintenance Log... This is a log of the various issues and maintenance I've encountered / undertaken on my computers.

 

[12 Nov '21] I finally figured out the issue with CrossFireX not making full use of its GPU... In the process of removing its second AMD HD6950 graphics card it had started to run different work units and it was these that were not fully utilising the GPU (like barely 20%). The difference I noticed in BOINC was:

Running (0.9 CPUs + 1 AMD/ATI GPU) - Gravitational Wave Search O3 All-Sky#1 1.01 (GW-opencl-ati) - resulted in low GPU usage according to GPU-Z.

vs.

Running (1 CPU + 1 AMD/ATI GPU) - Gamma-ray pulsar search #1 on GPU 1.22 (FGRPopencl1k-ati) - fully utilised the GPU.

The first one was with limited GPU usage so I thought I might be able to somehow change the 0.9 to 1.0 somewhere, as I suspected this was what was allowing the second type to run properly. Sadly, after much searching and trying various things (including changing what seemed to be the necessary statement in the client_state.xml file) I had affected no change. My "solution" (if perhaps only a "workaround") was to do the following:

At https://einsteinathome.org/account/prefs/project my computers all run under the 'Preference set' of 'Generic' (which is by default). So I specified that of 'Work' and opted out of all the Gravitational Wave search applications.

At https://einsteinathome.org/account/dashboard I then clicked on the computer I was having issues with. On that computer's page, at the bottom was the option to change the Location to 'Work'.

I then ditched all of the Gravitational Wave search work units in the BOINC program of that computer, quit BOINC and re-opened it. It now started downloading and processing my preferred Gamma-ray pulsar search work units (fully utilising the GPU).

Perhaps this is the only solution.

 

[08 Nov '21] The plan was to get Apple up and running but it has so far been the most problematic of the bunch. It's based around an (old) MSI K9N Neo motherboard (ver.1.0), and initially with an Nvidia 560 graphics card installed (I didn't want to tax the PSU too much as it's one I recently repaired).

First the motherboard didn't like the CPU I'd installed it; the BIOS reported it wasn't compatible, yet on paper it is. Thankfully I had a spare compatible CPU waiting in the wings, although of a higher TDP. That worked but then there were RAM and CMOS battery issues. The latter still persists; even though I've replaced the battery I still get the CMOS Checksum Error after the power has been switched off and I have to re-input the date and time and other settings. Weirdly enough, after replacing the battery for what I thought was the second time (because I couldn't find my tester to confirm the one in it was ok or not and that I'd already replaced it once), working my way through the BIOS options (like date and time) was a lot more nippy with the new battery, whereas it had been somewhat sluggish before).

The RAM issue was overcome by replacing entirely the 4x 1GB Corsair DDR2 modules I had been trying to use; one module seemed to have completely failed (or frustratingly sent to me dead) and would prevent the system from starting with it installed, but then I would still find myself sometimes having to remove all but one module to get the system to POST - and then things deteriorated further when the system seemed to only work with two modules installed (an issue made more annoying because I'd have to reset things in the BIOS after every time I unplugged the power to replace the RAM). I'm now back up to 4GB RAM but with a different brand of modules, and they're working fine.

Next up I encountered issues with Ubuntu. It installed OK but on one occasion the installation got messed up; a password box came on screen pertaining to updates but I had been clicking in another window at that moment and I couldn't do anything, like type in the password, close the box or get back to the desktop. I had to reset the computer and this left Ubuntu messed up; it started up with a request for a password, but it just kept going round in circles. I ended up installing Ubuntu a couple of times after another such glitch, but then I couldn't get Einstein to run on the GPU.

I'd had been unable to get the necessary Nvidia drivers to install for P5NE's 560 Ti on Ubuntu, so I was expecting the same problem here, but no. The Nvidia 560 here had its drivers automatically installed by the OS which was handy (why didn't the ti system do that?), but BOINC was only getting work units for the CPU. I'm sure I've come across this issue before and I'm sure there are instructions somewhere to get around it, but I couldn't find them. I tried switching drivers in the OS's 'Additional Drivers' box, but this flashed up a list of errors/dependencies and while it implied no changes to the OS had been made, an restart proved otherwise and the OS was broken yet again. I tried downloading the drivers from Nvidia's website but the system wouldn't install them because Nvidia drivers were already in use by the OS's chosen ones and it wouldn't let me disable that and use the 'Nouvou' ones without either breaking things or not making the switch without error.

Lets try Windows 10 instead...

That installation went smoothly (I'll just have to tolerate hours of Windows downloading updates). Einstein now runs on the Nvidia 560, however I soon noticed that this card runs too warm... it quickly got up to 80'c. The fan was only at 50% according to GPU-Z so I've now installed MSI Afterburner to adjust the fan speed.

 

[Oct-Nov '21] I begin a new season of Einstein@home by gradually preparing my various computers (I only participate during the colder months of the year when my home can benefit from the generated heat.)

Each computer seems to have issues off the bat, either from just being unused for months, or from having parts swapped around for other projects.

My main computer, 2600K, is least problematic because I use it every day and none of the hardware has really changed. I just have to remember to run MSI Afterburner alongside BOINC to operate a custom 'fan curve' to keep the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 stable. I am sure there is a way to change the card's BIOS so it has this setting by default...

iccleBeast refuses to boot from Windows 10 so it is running on Ubuntu. At first it wouldn't power up, but I got it going with some fault-finding/process of elimination (the built-in card reason was the culprit, although it is reconnected now and all is well).

BIOSTAR has an Nvidia GTX 760 which is ticking along quite nicely.

P5NE has always being particularly problematic. I had to replace the CMOS battery and it's almost like there is an issue with its PCI-E slots (it has two) if I meddle with the graphics card (I use one for now, an Nvidia GTX 550 Ti). This system originally and still runs Windows Vista (64-bit) which I like to have access to. I have a second drive in it with Ubuntu on but I wasn't able to get Nvidia drivers to play with this graphics card (it would just end up with a resolution of 640 x 480 and be unable to run Einstien on it, no matter which driver version I tried).

New to the fleet for this year is (will be*) CrossFireX, a system I originally set up to try some CrossFire-compatible games with (but failed). *Sadly I have been unable to get Einstein to run on the ATI graphics card. It had two in at first for the CrossFire stuff and I tried Einstein to see how the cards would cope, particularly the one in the top slot with very limited air-flow. As expected it was obviously going to run too hot so I removed the second card, but then Einstein would fail to run on the graphics card; GPU usage would mess around at only 20%... very weird. I have tried reinstalling drivers, and Windows 10, with no change. I've tried Ubuntu but I have yet to get graphics card drivers installed - the process is different to Nvidia and the process just tells me there are prerequisites; I keep getting stumped working my way through the instructions.

Next on the list is a system I think I'll call Apple since it's in a case that is reminiscent of an old Mac system. I'm currently in the process of putting it together, and it's already it wouldn't switch on at first (I hadn't connected the power button to the right pins) now it's telling me it doesn't like the CPU I put in it.

Phenom2 will see a come back (Phenom lives at my mum's house and takes part whenever she leaves it on) but this other Phenon X6-based system has been transplanted into another case and coupled with hydro cooler.

 

Click here for the previous year's log: 2020-1