I’ve been participating in the [email protected]
distributed computing project for a while now, and of course I’ve always folded for Team 12772 - OCC! Folding is an easy way for me to help contribute to the advancement of medical science, even though I’m about as smart as a bag of hammers. Until semi-recently, the only way to make a [email protected]
contribution was by running a CPU client – but thankfully, Stanford collaborated with the folks at ATI and Nvidia to develop a [email protected]
GPU client. For many folders, setting up the GPU client can be confusing. Hopefully, this guide will serve to make installing and configuring the SysTray GPU client easy.
First, let’s go over a few things to make sure your hardware is compatible with the GPU client. To use your graphics card to fold, you need:
- Nvidia 8xxx series GPU or higher.
- Nvidia GPUs must be running a CUDA-enabled driver. You can get a CUDA driver here.
- ATI 2xxx series GPU or higher.
- ATI GPUs need to have any Catalyst driver 8.7 or newer. You can get ATI Catalyst drivers here.
Now that the hardware has been addressed, we need download the GPU2 client – which can be found here – and get it set up. You should also make sure that you request a unique user passkey from Stanford. This passkey is entered when you configure the client, and ensures that nobody but you gets credit for your folding effort. You can request your unique user passkey here.
The GPU client installer works exactly the same way as any other Windows-based setup, and you should install the client the same way you’d install anything else. Let’s have a look at each step.
Once you’ve finished with the setup process, let’s head on over to the Start Menu to make sure everything is where it should be. In the picture below, you’ll see that I have expanded two folders on my Start Menu – the [email protected]
GPU folder and the Startup folder.
To start the GPU client for the very first time, you’ll want to expand the [email protected]
GPU folder and click on the [email protected]
link. This will open up the client’s configuration window, which has three tabs. Let’s take a look at the first tab, User. The User tab is where you’ll enter your [email protected]
/OCC Forum username (they need to be the same), the team you want to fold for (12772 is the ONLY option), and your unique user passkey.
Next up is the Connection tab. Here is where you’ll decide whether you want the client asking you for permission to use your network. I’d suggest that you allow the client unhindered network access, mainly because it would be asking your permission a few times per day, and won’t send or receive work packet info without nagging you. This tab also gives you the option to crunch Work Units larger than 10MB in size. This option is totally up to you, but popular belief is that smaller WUs will be crunched faster – so if points are your reason for folding, I’d leave this box un-checked. You are also prompted to enter your proxy info here. Proxy settings are beyond the scope of this guide, and will not be covered.
On the Advanced tab, we finally get to the important stuff! Fortunately, most users won’t have to mess with many of these settings. Core Priority should be left alone, unless another program is preventing the GPU client from accessing CPU cycles. CPU Usage Percent can also be left alone. In fact, you may leave every setting between Disable Optimized Code and Core Network Address alone. Those are mainly advanced settings that the average folder won’t need to alter. If you fold on a laptop, you should decide for yourself whether to run the GPU client on battery power or not. Additional Client Parameters are more advanced settings, and won’t be covered here. Setting the Machine ID# is important if you’re running more than one instance of [email protected]
on one computer – this includes any CPU clients you may already have set up. The GPU client is smart, because it automatically assumes that it’s the second folding application running on your PC. Only change this if you are running more than two [email protected]
clients on one PC.
All that’s left is to restart your computer, and the [email protected]
GPU client will then start automatically until you configure it differently.
Heat: Running the GPU client will likely result in higher system temperatures, especially as far as the GPU is concerned. Folders should always make good in-case airflow a priority, but GPU folders who fail to increase GPU fan speed specifically are asking for trouble. An overheating GPU can and will cause client errors, and permanent damage may result from pushing a hot video card too hard for too long. The best way to make sure your folding GPU is cool and productive is to install a GPU tweak/OC tool, like EVGA Precision, ATI Tray Tools, or RivaTuner. Both apps enable GPU overclocking, fan speed adjustments, and custom performance profiles, in addition to the ability to have your settings load automatically when Windows starts.
- For Nvidia cards, Precision is definitely the most user friendly utility, as it sports only the most oft-used tweaks in a clean, uncomplicated interface. Despite its apparent simplicity, I feel that it is easily as useful and powerful as RivaTuner. You do not need an EVGA GPU to use Precision - it will work with any Nvidia GPU. You can get Precision here.
- On the ATI side, the Catalyst Control Center is your ticket to custom settings. Very similar to Precision, the CCC lets you set overclocking and fan profiles, and is very easy to use. The Catalyst Control Center will also load your settings with Windows. The CCC will work with any ATI video card, and can be found included with ATI drivers here.
- RivaTuner is the undisputed king of GPU overclocking and tweaking. With as many settings as there are days in a year, RivaTuner will essentially grant you the ability to alter any of your GPU’s settings, create custom overclocking and fan speed profiles, and will automatically start when Windows does. You can even alter your card’s BIOS. While RivaTuner is an extremely powerful tool, it can also be very dangerous. Simply enabling the wrong setting can nuke your GPU, and it’s highly important that you read up on how to properly and safely use this app. You can get RivaTuner here.
Lag: Because the GPU [email protected]
client uses your CPU, RAM, and GPU to crunch WUs, it is perfectly normal to notice some system lag and/or stuttering while you're folding. Even simple tasks, like Internet surfing and dragging windows around your desktop, can be somewhat slower. From my experience, this lag is a minor annoyance. It's easy to pause the GPU client if you want to game, edit video, or whatever, and it's equally easy to fire it back up.
Pausing and Restarting: As was just mentioned, pausing and restarting the GPU client is very easy. If you want to pause your folding, right-click the [email protected]
icon in your systray and click on Pause Work. When you're ready to start folding again, simply right-click the [email protected]
icon and click Resume Work. Viola!