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Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science


Latest puzzle (with a lot of filters) are relatively slow to compute.
I'm trying to identify what should the best characteristics a computer should have for folding.

Here my intuitive:

-2 physical cores minimum (4 virtual) - 8 is ok
-8 GB RAM minimum (best 16) - 16 is ok
-temperature (good cooling of the processor, fan) is quite important
-ethernet/wifi speed/stability is not important
-HD free space: about 1 Gb free minimum
-Speed of accessing HD: not important

My question:

-do you think there is a minimum for graphic card ? (I've the impression it's not important)



Joined: 09/29/2016
Groups: Gargleblasters
That seems pretty accurate.

Cores, indeed Recommended: 2 physical cores per client. (+2 per each additional client; or +1C2T worse-case)

I would followup with saying that CPU frequency (MHz/GHz) is king when it comes to Foldit. If you have a fairly old CPU, but which runs at 4.5GHz on all cores, then you'll be fine. So an Intel Core i5/i7 from the 4000 and 6000 series at 4.5GHz will be sufficient, and a brand new 10000 series i5/i7 offers negligible improvement to performance.
So on that note, I would say that "Recommended CPU Frequency" should be around 3GHz to 3.5GHz (3000MHz to 3500MHz).
For the "Minimum CPU Frequency" then, I would say 2.5GHz (2500MHz), but add something like "[On puzzles without Objectives]"...

RAM, Min 4GB, Recommended 8GB. (12 to 16GB for multi-client)

Internet Connection? Speed is rather irrelevant, yes. HOWEVER! As someone who DOES have an unstable internet connection, I can say that stability CAN indeed be important! Reasoning is simply due to how Foldit behaves with losing a connecting. If it's while you're hand folding, and the connection is coming and going, if it happens to be right when a network transmission is happening, then your client will freeze up until it can either: finish the transfer, or internally times out. NOTE: Foldit's internal timeout sometimes takes over a minute; furthermore, not always DOES it timeout and therefore the client is permanently frozen.

Storage space, Min 800mb, Recommended 1.5GB (per install; multi-client-multi-folder)
Speed, indeed is seemingly unimportant.

GPU, though??
I would put it as "Minimum: Integrated GPU; OpenGL v3.0 or greater" and "Recommended: Any dedicated graphics card". Reason being, that the integrated GPUs will pump more heat into the CPU, thereby prevent it from running as high of CPU frequency, causing performance to suffer. A dedicated graphics card will therefore offload the rendering load and allow the CPU to run faster.

My dedicated high-end gaming card, which is like 7yrs old, with all the View Options enabled, is pretty much always in Low Power mode (aka 2D mode) and only using 20% GPU Core. So nothing fancy as required. Even if they eventually support GPGPU processing (OpenCL), by that time everyone is likely to have even an integrated GPU that can do sufficient minimal GPGPU. :)

Joined: 08/11/2010
Old computer can run one client albeit slowly


I'm running on a ten year old IBM clone, now Windows 10, no graphics card and the native graphics unsupported for years. Older OpenGL version used to crash regularly but seems to have been fixed on the Foldit server side, thanks for that!

Probably lots of new folders with similar computers, especially on the recently started Education side.

Intuitively, things seem to have gotten more stable of late, ran Maaa 2.4.6 all night last night against P1944 H-Net and to my surprise the last time I did Zero Length Bands it finished in a few seconds instead of the traditional 5 minutes.

Once I (finally!) get my newer computer up perhaps I can share some of the desperate naive hand folding moves I've recently developed in pursuit of mediocrity, in spite of limited folding time.

jawz101's picture
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Joined: 03/07/2020
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Last year I spec'd a computer

Last year I spec'd a computer for protein folding based on about a $400 budget and just went to https://www.cpubenchmark.net/ to find the best cpu and graphics card per dollar and then build the rest around that. Personally, I think CPU's and graphics haven't had many leaps in technology in the past decade.

We've hit our limits on single threaded performance and now we're just throwing cores at things. The biggest innovations anymore are in heat dissipation and using less energy. And now with Spectre and Meltdown, some of the fundamental performance tricks were thrown out the window.

If anything, I think Foldit itself could change to take more advantage of modern hardware. Split out its workloads to as many cores as you have and leverage the GPU for anything it can.

When I'm not playing Foldit my folding computer runs BOINC with covid folding through Rosetta for CPU-bound folding and GPUGrid for GPU-bound folding projects. Or Folding@home which can do both.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science
Thanks all !

I like this scatter graph (price x performance):

I saw you message too late. I just build a desktop with what I thought the "minimum" (cost) needed for a high Foldit performance in a Brussel's physical shop (only looking for what they had in stock).
Following the graph, for same price I could have bought a better CPU:

Here is the total cost in euros (note: videocard is build in i9-9900K, no need of a video card)
CPU: Intel-i9-9900K ..........................................448.99 euros
CPU cooler Cooler master Hyper TX3.............................39.00 euros
Mother board: Gigabyte Z390 UD (Intel socket LGA1151) ........169.00 euros
Power supply: P650B 650W 80+bronze 21/1........................85.00 euros
HD Kingston 120 GO disk SSD - Interne sata 6GB/S 2 ............35.00 euros
RAM Corsaire vengeance LPX 16 GO (2x8GO) DDR4 3000MHZ C1......119.00 euros
Box Aerocool PLaya ATX RGB.....................................89.00 euros
Additional fan.................................................12.00 euros
OSLight hardware test Windows10 (or Linux): free
Total 997.00 euros

It's not much quicker than another almost 8 year old desktop that I bought second hand 2 year ago for 120.00 euros.
You are right saying "CPU's and graphics haven't had many leaps in technology in the past decade."
Number of foldit clients: 10 (versus 6 in my old one)
Conclusion: 5-6 year old (second hand) desktop would be enough for Foldit (about 100.00 euros or USD)


Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, RosettaCommons