Optimizing for slower computers

Case number:845833-986056
Topic:Game: Display
Opened by:themarquis
Status:Closed
Type:Bug
Opened on:Saturday, May 2, 2009 - 16:26
Last modified:Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 22:14

I've been experiencing problems with fold-it running slowly, especially with the larger proteins. I have heard others complain about this as well. When pulling or banding, for example, there is a noticeable lag that sometimes results in pulling the wrong thing or failing to place a band properly. Wiggling can be agonizingly slow.

It would be nice if there was a way to turn off certain graphical options before starting Foldit. I know you can turn off some things like voids and sidechains and the like (this helps, but usually not enough) but is there a way to default to a lower graphics quality somehow when starting up? Could there be a special setting in the options file where you could optimize foldit for slower computers -- make it less pretty but faster or turn on sidechains in wireframe view?

** side note: until recently, foldit was running okay for me. Two days ago, I upgraded Ubuntu (to 8.04 from ... don't remember, some really old version). Intriguingly, when I started it up, two things were different: a) the sidechains looked better and b) it was horrifically slow. Turns out my graphics had not been displaying properly and I had been seeing wireframe sidechains before. They were ugly, but they probably sped things up w/ my system. Now that things are displaying properly, I'm experiencing problems. Which makes me wonder ... wouldn't it be cool if folks could opt to turn on wireframe sidechains?

(Sat, 05/02/2009 - 16:26  |  20 comments)


Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None

until the first monstrously big decoy puzzle I had absolutely no problems running foldit
(despite a slow computer apparently, lol, thanks for informing me Pletscheroo and Jude :P )

Anyway, at first I thought it was the size of the puzzles making things run slow, but now that the puzzles I'm working on are as small as before, foldit is STILL as slow as an old lady....
(no offense to any old ladies out there)

It's not just foldit, ever since things started to slow down, I can hardly surf the web when foldit is running (which is funny, because it ain't running that fast, so the proper way to say this is that I can hardly surf the web when foldit is walking, lol)

my question:
who pushed the red button, and can it be undone?

Joined: 04/19/2008
Groups: None

I also find Foldit *very* slow, expecially when big proteins are loaded. I noticed that CPU usage of Foldit is constantly at 100%, even if you don't wiggle/pull/do anything, and I know games which show much better graphics and don't use that much CPU at all. ;) I'm sure there's still much room for improvement. Instead of simplifying the graphics, please look at your code and see if there's anything that can be optimized (in case you don't do that anyway). :) (I don't like the current voids, they are hexagons and the previous ones looked much better imho, more like balls. Were they changed because of performance reasons?)

Joined: 12/14/2008

Thats right. It's not 100% for me, but I have 2 cores. But "one" is at 100% for foldit every time, meaning foldit takes 50%. That is new.

I've only seen this behavior in old games that used to take 100% on single cores.
I think the programmers have messed up some code in the last update.

Joined: 12/14/2008
Type: Suggestion » Bug

from a little asking in the chat and guessing from the posts above, it seems that all 32bit-systems are effected, with the amount of one core 100%.

Only one I found that was not was an intel q6600 on Vista 64, that was down to ~10% of one core.

Joined: 04/13/2009
Groups: Contenders

LennStar, I'm on a dual core, 64 bit system. But one of my cores is generally 100 percent or maybe 80-90 percent when playing fold-it. The other one is usually 60 percent or so. That seems really high to me, and nicky is right that it ends up slowing down everything substantially if you do dare to try to surf the web or something while playing.

This just doesn't really seem optimal ... or necessary. Especially for folks with slower computers, but maybe for everyone else as well if foldit is hogging up all the system resources it can.

Joined: 12/14/2008

all the people that answered (4 ^^)used some win system.

What uses the 60%? O.o

Either way, I have no big problems on my dual core with surfing etc.
As I write, it wiggles ;)

Only to be sure: No one of you uses BOINC and has just upgraded to the latest version? That one makes more use of CUDA, and that can significantly slow down any 2D-grafics.
If you do, stop it for a test.

Joined: 04/13/2009
Groups: Contenders

Well, I said in my post that I use Ubuntu, so I don't think your answer really makes sense.

Joined: 11/10/2007
Groups: Window Group

Does turning off the viewing of sidechains help with the speed?

We had started a feature where segments near the mouse would show up as they do now, and ones further away would be lines (not exactly wireframe). Would that be useful? We can try to finish that up and release it.

Joined: 04/13/2009
Groups: Contenders

Thanks for looking into this, seth.

Turning off sidechains definitely helps a bit, though with the larger proteins especially, my computer is still really struggling.

I think what you've described with the farther-away segments appearing as lines would be great and probably speed things up for a lot of folks! From what I've heard other people saying about foldit running so slow, I think a lot of people would use that feature.

Brick's picture
User offline. Last seen 8 weeks 1 day ago. Offline
Joined: 07/15/2008
Groups: Beta Folders

Regardless of how the graphics are displayed, full color or wire-frame, or somewhere in-between, it still doesn't explain *what* fold.it is doing with all the CPU usage when the client is essentially idle. Does it really need to do all that work to keep the graphics displayed on the screen when nothing is changing?

This has been going on since I started last July, so it's nothing new. It's always been a CPU hog.

Joined: 12/14/2008

At least not for me and the vista guy from above. If I did nothing, it was only 10% or even less.

Joined: 04/13/2009
Groups: Contenders

A side question: what is the render_style in the option file? Mine is set to "cartoon" but are there other settings and what do they do?

Brick's picture
User offline. Last seen 8 weeks 1 day ago. Offline
Joined: 07/15/2008
Groups: Beta Folders

There is really something wrong.

I had my Task Manager process list open when I started Fold.It just now. At the puzzle selection menu, it was already using 25% of the CPU resources of a dual core system. Hadn't even selected one yet. (Core 2 Duo, WinXP SP2, 2GB ram)

Once I selected a puzzle, it immediately shot up to 50% of the total CPU resources. This is without even touching the protein, and all view options turned off - so no animated bonds, no strobing colors. All chat windows and scoreboards closed. Page faults were clocking off at about 50K per second. Disconnected network cable or "play offline" didn't make a difference, so it's not using a lot of CPU trying to talk to the servers.

Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None

Seth said: "Does turning off the viewing of sidechains help with the speed?

We had started a feature where segments near the mouse would show up as they do now, and ones further away would be lines (not exactly wireframe). Would that be useful? We can try to finish that up and release it."

You know what, that sounds like a great feature...but to answer your question, no, turning off the viewing of sidechains doesn't help with this particular problem.
Turning off the side chains used to speed things up a little, but right now it hardly matters if I view every bond and sidechain or if I only view the naked backbone, the speed is lacking in both cases.
And it's not just the speed of folding, it also takes at least twice as much time to open the solutions for example, also trying to do anything else on my computer when foldit is running is hardly possible.

Like it was said before, this isn't general chat about asking for a way to speed up foldit as far as I'm concerned...it worked fine, and then something changed which made it not run fine. Any ideas?

Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None

hmmmmm, something changed today.......

not back to normal, but definitely not as bad as it's been.

If anyone did anything, then thanks.

If no-one did anything, I guess my medication kicked in :P

Joined: 11/08/2008
Groups: Contenders

I'm also using a Win system, and foldit also seems to take up <50% of processor power.

I heard a really interesting suggestion from themarquis: What if there were an option to turn graphics off completely? When one is running a long recipe, one really doesn't need to look at the protein at all. I also assume turning off graphics would also speed up processing power quite a bit.

Joined: 12/14/2008

grafics are done, as the name says, by the graphics processor. The CPU should not have much to do with it.

Joined: 11/10/2007
Groups: Window Group

We're continuing to work on performance. In the meantime, the new Developer Preview update has two features that may help:

1. Minimize the app on Windows stops rendering. So it should use less CPU when minimized.

2. There is a "line" render style (ctrl+shft+L), that should improve rendering speed when used.

tcn's picture
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Joined: 08/06/2010
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This might have something to do with Linux's spotty OpenGL support. My ATI driver 'broke' when I upgraded from Ubuntu 8.04 to 9.04. ATI stopped supporting the proprietary driver, and Ubuntu switched to the open-source 'radeon' driver without 3D acceleration, falling back on MESA's software implementation of OpenGL -- which actually looks better! But slow.

I hadn't used FoldIt until a few days ago. It works fine on that machine under Ubuntu 9.10 (it's a dual-core 2.3ghz AMD64 with a low-end ATI 1250X integrated graphics). Even works OK on my 1.6ghz Atom netbook - but it's a bit slow for the real puzzles :)

Joined: 06/17/2010
Status: Open » Closed

Duplicate: http://fold.it/portal/node/990207

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