I used to be quite an avid F@H contributor, I ran several folding rigs and wrote a bit of code for addins to the project. I have not done any real folding since late 2007, that is until this week. I built myself an awesome gaming system last week containing an Intel Core 2 Duo 8400 CPU, 4Gb of RAM and a ATi 4870 GPU. I am extremely pleased with the way this system works and decided to try out some of the high performance clients the F@H project offers.
These essentially break down into SMP and GPU. The former, SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing) is a client designed to spread the unit workload over the physical (or virtual) cores available on a system rather than using the single threaded normal clients. Disappointingly it doesn’t appear the cores have been modified to achieve this, instead it looks like a managed series of single threaded processes are used. I will need to investigate this further as I had some problems getting it to work – more on this hopefully at a later date. The latter takes advantage of the stream processors on the graphics cards to perform folding, it is in essence a great example of GPGPU. This client absolutely rocks on my ATi 4870’s 800 stream processors currently giving me an approximate PPD (points per day) of greater than 2200 using the Gromacs GPUv2 core.
So, to anyone interested in Folding at Home, despite not being on the ‘officially supported’ list, the ATi 4870 is a work unit crunching beast.