Same computer, same dust - proof of overheating in current client

Case number:699969-997299
Opened by:auntdeen
Opened on:Friday, March 21, 2014 - 18:02
Last modified:Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 19:39

First - the good news for all the players who are overheating (and possibly the devs to track the issue down) - we aren't crazy, and I can prove it now.

Last night I checked my client usage and fan speed. I had two puzzles open, 861 & 862, and was running the same script on both - a Quaking Rebuild. My CPU fan was running at 2300+ rpm, and both clients were using 165-180% each (quad core). I closed the clients and rebooted the computer.

I keep old clients, and with karstenw's comments in mind - that this started back in early September - I opened a couple clients from last summer and selected a revisited and a second stage denovo to test, similar to what I was working on. That build is 20130720-4d4188ea95-osx_x86-devprev.

All tests were done with maximized clients, Gui showing and protein on screen.

My fan speed before opening the clients was 938. Opening the 2 clients and running the same script as above, Quaking Rebuild, brought the speed to about 1300. I opened another client and same script - speed 1400-1500.

A fourth client running the script - fan now at 2100. It took the 5th client to push the fan speed over 2300. 2300 is when I can hear the fan, and I try to stay under that speed. At each step, each client was using less than 100%.

I rebooted my computer and opened 2 current, Main clients and ran the same scripts. The fan jumped to 1700+ immediately. Opening a third client and running the script pushed the fan well over 2300 rpm.
So there is no question that at least for me, on my Mac, months ago I could run 4 clients with no heating problem, but anything over 2 clients now is a problem.

Same computer, same dust.

However… there is also no question that my bad habits from the past years when I could run the four clients are also contributing to the issue (my own, at least). After closing the third client, I left that script running overnight on both clients (minimized, protein off screen, Hide GUI) and 12 hours later, the fan was still reasonable at around 1300.

Maximizing them and showing the protein the fan is now at 2200+, both using around 140%. My lesson here? I had a uptime of 4 days before I started this process. Although I had closed and reopened clients during that time, apparently there was a memory build up that I was not flushing. This could be another indication for the devs, or just normal operation.

So I would recommend to all that you reboot your comps more often, and when finished with a script, save and close the client. Also - no question that especially now, clients must be minimized with the protein dragged offscreen and Hide GUI checked. This will be especially hard for hand folders, and for hand folding puzzles, but keep it in mind while we are waiting for the devs to fix the bug at their end.

Much a pain, but that may help until the devs can nail down the problem at their end.

(Fri, 03/21/2014 - 18:02  |  11 comments)

Joined: 04/11/2013

Thanks Aunt
I have not been able to use my laptop at all for foldit since NC. I serviced it and it still cuts out because of the heat. I thought it was the laptop.

MurloW's picture
User offline. Last seen 15 weeks 6 days ago. Offline
Joined: 11/21/2012

So, what was all that that the devs were saying about their software being completely unable to crank up temperatures on it's own?

That's right, nothing.

Joined: 04/15/2012
Groups: Beta Folders

Erm, I'm pretty sure that fact was never denied, just that you're OS/firmware should be preventing issues from occurring. No more, no less. Sure, it's happening and apparently it's not being taken care of. It should be fixed. But that wasn't addressed. I do hope it is though.

alcor29's picture
User offline. Last seen 5 hours 51 min ago. Offline
Joined: 11/16/2012

Many, many thanks auntdeen. I for one really appreciate all your valiant, current efforts to restore some sanity and a semblance of equilibrium to the foldit environment. As a relative (and perennial) newb I feels sad at times to open a client and see fewer folders online, little of the chat I have become used to seeing, and sometimes even more disconcerting seeing folders attacking each other when all everyone is doing is trying to contribute to the understanding and re-mediation of the current situation we all find ourselves in. Much kudos to you auntie.

spmm's picture
User offline. Last seen 9 weeks 17 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 08/05/2010
Groups: Void Crushers

Well done and many thanks for taking the time to run up the old client and do the comparison :D

Hopefully most folders would agree that the old client's resource usage, whilst still non-trivial is a good benchmark as an acceptable load for the 'average' computer, running four or less clients, especially used in conjunction with the protective practices outlined here and elsewhere.

It may be impossible for the calculations now required for scientific accuracy to be run at or close to that benchmark, the devs will have to let us know if they can refactor.

Joined: 09/21/2011

Some items that I'm not sure the devs are aware of; many of the higher end computers are actually having the largest problems. Also, not everyone is noticing a significant change at all. Smilingone ran similar tests and she shows rather enormous variations between old and new foldit. Several have stated that everything is working the same for them. To me this suggests the new Foldit needs to be thoroughly inspected, however...

we are considering the info that jflat gave us about the difficulty for the software to predict how the hardware and os at our end might react, and we're theorizing what things we can do at our end to ensure as much stability and performance as possible. We will make sure that our computers are optimized for foldit.

The problem might be that our computers have accepted the larger program info and are processing it at the same rates as the smaller program info thus maintaining a high speed but getting hot and overtaxing itself, especially when more clients are opened.

I personally have adapted to this by running fewer clients, but I had already scaled back to 2 clients a year ago, so this is not a problem for me (this is very frustrating for other players however). I'm still running hotter than I prefer, so I may upgrade my cpu cooler, or I may change my "power settings" for Win8 from "balanced" to "power saver". I know that I can't have both speed and many clients.

I hope that the pc is not working extra hard because the current Foldit program is functioning in a manner that is not properly suited to home computing, and I firmly expect that every effort is made to optimize Foldit to be a powerful and effective program whilst handled easily by home computers. To be powerful, effective, AND be handled easily by home computers when trying to solve proteins is a crazy thing to ask of the devs and I do sympathize, but this is how it has to be.

Joined: 09/21/2011

It would seem that some computers have remained steady between old Foldit and new Foldit. These computers were probably already maxing out the full capacity of their computers and had hit a ceiling in their performance.

Others, like Smilingone had seen severe changes in her computer when comparing old Foldit to new Foldit.
She lowered her power settings so that the heavier load was not being processed unfettered at max cpu speeds and was able to bring back a more stable gaming experience.
If you would like to know how to change the power settings on your computer, please ask in one of the chat rooms. There are many players who know how to do this and are glad to help. It is not a complex thing to change, and is very normal for home users to change this setting.

Joined: 09/21/2011

I just blew out the dust inside my pc and replaced my cpu cooler with a Noctua nh-L9i for my 77 watt cpu.
If you have a 95 watt cpu, I suggest the Noctua nh-L12. I have cut my fan speed by 1/2 for 2 clients and dropped temps by 36*F.

If you have not opened your pc case and cleaned out your dust, I strongly suggest you do so. It is not difficult and you can get advice in the chat room about doing this. It is something that should be done as a matter of routine maintenance.

If you are not handy, or you have never made modifications to a pc, then replacing the cpu cooler might be something you would ask someone you trust to install. This upgrade could give you greater protection for your cpu especially if you fold 24/7 like many vets do.

If you have a laptop, then it would be wise to lower your cpu speed with a cpu throttle application, or by changing the power options as stated in the above post.

Keep in mind that a 20% increase in load will be felt by every client you open, so opening 5 clients would be like opening six clients in the past. A 50% load increase for nc means opening 2 clients would be like opening 3 clients in the past. Timo's latest post suggests a 20-40% increase for the upgraded Foldit program.

bkoep's picture
User is online Online
Joined: 11/15/2012
Groups: Foldit Staff

Hi all, I wanted to report back from the Foldit team on this issue. We've done some extensive testing with different clients on several different machines. The current client clearly consumes more resources (both in memory and CPU usage) than clients from autumn of 2013, and we've ruled out software bugs and errant code as causes for this increase. The increased load seems to rise primarily from (1) changes in core Rosetta algorithms that are related to the New Chapter update and (2) new Foldit features that have been the focus of recent puzzles (e.g. the Fragment Filter, High Wiggle Power).

If your computer is struggling under the new client, there are very good suggestions in this thread and others about how to reduce any stress on your hardware. These include: adjusting your power settings, dusting inside your desktop case, and reducing the number of clients running at a given time. Please keep in mind that Foldit is only designed to run as a single client per machine—it's a small (but fortunate) miracle that so many players are able to run multiple clients on a single computer.

From a scientific perspective, although we are continuing to fine-tune some settings, we've been very happy with the results players have produced with the new client. We are always working to make the Foldit footprint as slim as possible while maintaining scientific effectiveness. Hopefully we can find efficient ways to replace the clunkier features of Foldit in the future.

Thanks to all of the players who have provided feedback and suggested ways to ease the burden of this larger client!

Joined: 04/19/2009

Thanks for getting back to us.

How then do you account for the fact that the last update put less stress on Macs, but not PCs?

Macs are now able to run approximately 1.5 times more efficiently (I can now run 3 clients, where before the update only 2 without hearing my cpu fan cranking). This has been verified by at least one other player.

Joined: 04/15/2012
Groups: Beta Folders

Just as a thought, especially with CASP coming up, are you guys ok with people running less starts/not developing them as much? I've seen a few users mentioning that that could be an issue, but curious what you think in relation to accuracy vs being able to try more things.


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, Boehringer Ingelheim, RosettaCommons