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Folding@Home for ATI R5xx Series in the near future

Tech Report reports Folding@Home will take advantage of ATI graphics processing power in the near future. Folding@Home claims performance of 100 gigaflops per computer will be achieved by taking advantage of ATI’s graphics processing power. ATI GPU support appears to only be for R5xx series of graphics processors according to the Folding@Home high performance client FAQ. The GPU powered Folding@Home client runs considerably faster on R580, Radeon X1900, X1950 series, than R520, Radeon X1800 series, most likely due to the R580’s 48 pixel shaders.

NVIDIA GPUs are currently unsupported at the time as the Folding@Home project has been concentrating its efforts on ATI GPUs as the ATI GPUs perform significantly faster than current generation NVIDIA GPUs. Folding@Home also previously announced its Cure@PS3 project to take advantage of the PS3’s processing power. DailyTech awaits the day Folding@Home optimizes its client for Bigfoot Networks KillerNIC.

The ATI optimized Folding@Home client is expected to arrive towards the end of September.  And, of course, if you needed another reason to stock up on ATI R5xx cards, ATI is still expected to release a driver for Triple Play

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By smokenjoe on 8/24/2006 2:35:18 PM , Rating: 2
I was going to get 1-2 7950 GX2 but if this works when it is time to upgrade I will go ATI.

Dont worry if it works for ATI and people like it NVIDIA will surely work to get their processors to play well also. I would expcet they are at least looking into this already for the next core.

RE: Finaly!!!!
By hwhacker on 8/24/2006 2:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah...That's what I find so interesting. It's great they did it, every bit helps...but...

They optimize it for the almost-dead R5xx generation when the R600 generation architecture (pipeline/alu setup) will be the beginning in a few months and will probably be around for several years (like R3xx-R5xx).

Hope fully there will be clients for G80's and R600's within 6 months or so after their launch.

It's too bad to see that the PS3's RSX (G71) won't be helping the cell crunch. Perhaps they can work on that for the future, as well as for the similar gf7 pc cards.

RE: Finaly!!!!
By TSS on 8/24/2006 4:18:35 PM , Rating: 2
Something I wonder though... I mean folding@home does a wonderfull thing in the research that they do but... My ati X1900XT @ XTX speeds gets up to 90 degrees C, 100 in the summer (and that's with a Zalman vf-700, cools the same as stock only much less noise), and draws power like an maniac. I'd use the folding@home for the CPU since I can cool the AMD X2 3800 and it doesn't use that much power but I'd burn out the ATI within a year like that. Not to mention I'll use more watts (a lot more) and my room will need a bit more ventilation.

So even though it's a good idea that graphic cards can be used for it, I wonder if alot of people will actually do it long term.

RE: Finaly!!!!
By saratoga on 8/25/2006 12:00:08 AM , Rating: 2
It probably won't get all that hot. I doubt the hacked up stuff they're doing really pushes the GPU as hard as an actual game. Theres probably a lot of idle time.

RE: Finaly!!!!
By Wwhat on 8/26/2006 11:33:12 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget that the x1900 only runs at full clock when it detects a 3d app running in fullscreen.
Still it is true that it might get rather hotter and obviously uses more power.

RE: Finaly!!!!
By bunnyfubbles on 8/24/2006 6:26:38 PM , Rating: 1
Which is interesting (I posted this in response to the PS3 F@H article) considering they're up on producing something for the PS3, but the XBox 360's GPU would seem perfect (being a forerunner to the R600) for what they're doing with GPU processing.

RE: Finaly!!!!
By akugami on 8/24/2006 7:06:49 PM , Rating: 2
Actually...the Cell CPU in the PS3 might be better than then R600 GPU's for F@H.

RE: Finaly!!!!
By Alexvrb on 8/26/2006 1:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
Which is a statement you've based on your own personal testing, of course. :/

RE: Finaly!!!!
By Wwhat on 8/26/2006 11:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
People actually buy cards based on freaking helping medicine manufacturers getting richer? what is wrong with people geez.
And you expect they would design GPU's based on folding results of it? HAHA, that's ludicrous, success with folding is just a side-effect and yes nvidia's future product can't help getting better at it too.

a comment
By ForumMaster on 8/24/2006 2:11:27 PM , Rating: 2
NVIDIA GPUs are currently unsupported at the time as the Folding@Home project has been concentrating its efforts on ATI GPUs as the ATI GPUs perform significantly faster than current generation NVIDIA GPUs.

i'm not an nvidia fanboy, but this isn't true. the arcitechture is different. an and SLi or CS setup would be good for this.

RE: a comment
By bunnyfubbles on 8/24/2006 2:20:58 PM , Rating: 1
I believe what he meant is that they're not focusing any development on nVidia at the moment becaues of how much easier to develop for/better performance with the R520/R580.

RE: a comment
By Phynaz on 8/24/2006 2:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know it's not true? Have you tried folding on either brand of GPU?

RE: a comment
By muziqaz on 8/24/2006 2:51:59 PM , Rating: 2
phynaz, stanford university did test on nvidia's and ati's high end cards(as far as I remember it was x1800xt&gf7800gtx) and ati's card spanked gtx card all over the place :)

you can find more about gpu f@h client developement here:
it is pitty that they are supporting only high-end gpu's.I for one would be willing to fold on my fx5500 card :)
but oh well...

RE: a comment
By akugami on 8/24/2006 3:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
I believe it's the superior pixel shaders of the R5xx series (and R6xx) that are being utilized for the F@H project and why they released it for the ATI GPU's instead of nVidia. This is going to be a specialized program that is highly optimized for ATI GPU's.

Can they probably get it working on nVidia's GPU's? I'm sure they can but the performance would probably suck without optimizations and that being the case, they'd probably need to rewrite large chunks of it to work on nVidia's GPU's and the performance would probably not be as great as on ATI's GPU's.

I am not saying one video card is better than the other, merely that this new version of F@H is ATI only due to the R5xx's higher pixel shader power. The fact that the R580's perform better than the R520's seem to support this as the X1900's (R580) mainly differ with the X1800's (R520) in terms of pixel shaders.

It shouldn't take them too much work to get this up and running on the R600 since even though it's a unified shader architecture, it's derivative of the R500 series to a degree.

RE: a comment
By PrinceGaz on 8/24/2006 6:45:39 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect the shader-power of an FX5500 (aka FX5200) that could be leveraged for folding work would likely be less than what the same computer's CPU could handle.

Bearing in mind this PPU/co-processor utilisation of GPUs is totally dependent on GPU shader-power, the GeForce5/FX shader power (or lack of) rules them out entirely.

RE: a comment
By Puddleglum on 8/24/2006 5:11:20 PM , Rating: 2
From Folding@Home:
March 2006 We have been investigating using ATI boards. The newest ones (with the R520 or R580 GPU -- eg the 1800XT or 1900XT boards) support 32 bit floating point operations, so they now work for folding calculations.

What is
By mendocinosummit on 8/24/2006 2:17:37 PM , Rating: 2
Who and what is Folding@Home. I went to their home page, but still I would like some clarity.

RE: What is
By hwhacker on 8/24/2006 2:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
Click the projects on the right side of the F@H page to see what each project is doing.

Essentially though, F@H uses your cpu, and now gpu power that is unused (ie runs in low priority) to fold protein combos to understand more about the workings of certain diseases in the hope to find a cure for them.

It's very simple to setup, won't effect the performance of your computer, and no reason why everyone shouldn't be doing it.

RE: What is
By MarkHark on 8/24/2006 3:12:53 PM , Rating: 2
No reason?

Well, not everybody leaves their computer on when not using it. Besides, energy is not as inexpensive in the rest of the world as it is in USA, so unused cpu cycles equal to less energy consumption (and heat). I also wonder if the extra heat generated could reduce the lifetime of an expensive video card (or two, in crossfire mode). Finally, not everybody have dedicated internet connections in order to fold/prime/seti/whatever.

That makes 3 or 4 good reasons for me, although I tend to agree with you otherwise.

RE: What is
By Wwhat on 8/26/2006 11:28:39 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the pollution caused by the increased energy use, which in turns causes diseases, which they will use F@H to design medicine for, in the end though the whole purpose of it all is to make medicine manufacturers even richer by the free and gullible assitance of fools, who will be hugely overcharged for the medicine they helped develop for free.

Ann's got jokes
By hwhacker on 8/24/2006 2:19:55 PM , Rating: 3
DailyTech awaits the day Folding@Home optimizes its client for Bigfoot Networks KillerNIC.

It's nice to see some humor on DT. :D

RE: Ann's got jokes
By Staples on 8/24/2006 6:45:09 PM , Rating: 2
Love the stab at the overpriced network card.

I have been folding for months on a Celeron D 2.66. Once these things work, does that mean someone with a fast ATI card will be able to catch up to me in days?

By peternelson on 8/24/2006 9:51:24 PM , Rating: 2
Well it's good the F@H client is going to be accelerated by ATI gpus when they launch this.

That should have been done ages ago because they have been wasting large amount of electricity per work unit by not taking advantage of it.

Secondly they should use most updated libraries and optimise well. eg early F@H was not optimised (more waste) until they switched to gromacs library.

Third I think they have it also working on Clearspeed CSX600 coprocessor board. The client in the field needs to ship with the support for that compiled in too.

Fourth, nvidia is not so inferior. Most of the work in nongraphics applications of gpus has been done on nvidia hardware (see gpu gems 1 and 2 books). They should support BOTH, and make the effort to rewrite to support both.

Fifth, all acceleration should be taken advantage of if installed. Thus autodetect if I have an nvidia plus a clearspeed and dualdualcore machine, use those.

Heat is always the problem.
By figroc on 8/24/2006 11:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
Oddly, the percentage threshold option does not work properly for my machine.

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