Guide To Setting Up Stanfords SMP Windows Client


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Guide: Setting Up Stanfords SMP Windows Client

This guide is intended to be used as an easy reference for members who wish to run Stanford University's Windows SMP client. Hopefully it will answer all questions regarding setting up and maintaining the Windows SMP client, and make running the client as pain-free as possible. But as always...

# Note: Overclock3d.net can in no way be held responsible for any loss of data by following this guide. The guide is written purely as an easy to read installation reference, and the information/ opinions contained and expressed within are purely those of the author. As with any work undertaken upon your PC, always ensure that valuable data is backed up.

What is the SMP client?

In the past, Windows users wanting to participate in Stanford' Folding at Home ([email protected]) Project, have had to resort to running either the GUI or console versions of Stanford' software. The main issue with using the console version was the lack of a native installer for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX platforms which would make effective use of processors with dual-cores or more. With the multi-core processors now becoming more mainstream, there was a need for a client which would allow those processors to run more efficiently when 'folding' and also decrease the time taken for simulations to be completed.

SMP means "Symmetric Multi-processing" and it is a term that generally refers to the situation where a computer has more than one processor core. Dual core CPU's are pretty common and even 4-core boxes (currently implemented as dual socket dual core computers, such as Apple's Mac Pro) are becoming common. With advances from Intel and AMD, quad core processors are on the horizon, with 8-core and even 16-core boxes soon to become common.

According to Stanford University, the SMP client can increase the overall folding performance on a multi-cored processor by around 4 - 6 times that of running two versions of the older text based console together to achieve the same result. The SMP client was originally intended for multi-core CPUs, which generally do not support HT. For machines with 2 physical CPUs, Stanford recommend enabling HT for the SMP client as this presents the operating system with what looks like 4 logical processors (and their SMP client is intended for 4 processors). If you have 4 physical CPUs, they do not recommend using HT, as this presents the operating system with 8 logical processors, which will make the SMP client run inefficiently (especially since the logical processors coming from HT run much slower than the normal ones).

Currently Stanford provides support for three operating systems: Windows, Mac OSX/Intel, and 64-bit Linux. They are working to port to 32-bit Linux and hope to have that ready to beta test soon. The Windows version of the client has recently been released and runs under both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows.

Anyway, let's have a look and see what we need to have for our installation...


It should be made known that the SMP client as it stands is currently in open beta phase of testing i.e there will be bugs to be ironed out along the way. Currently, Stanford has a list of the known SMP client bugs (many of which exist for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX platforms) which have been made available at their [email protected] Project public forum. I would advise that you head over there and familiarise yourself with some of the known issues. I have listed the more common, problematic ones below. However, a significant amount of the other issues listed at the Stanford [email protected] Forum are purely cosmetic, and as such have been excluded from this list.

Known Bugs and issues
  1. The core needs some time (often as much as 4 minutes) between work units to finalise work.
  2. Printing to the log file sometimes gets weird due to multiple threads
  3. The SMP core appears to be confused about disabling optimizations, so Stanford suggests running with the -forceasm flag if you notice that the SSE was disabled unnecessarily.
  4. The core will print "No option -tpi" 4 times during the start up of the core
  5. If a server with SMP WU's is not available or is overloaded, the client will be assigned to, which tells the client to wait and try again.
  6. If you fail to register your password by running mpiexec –register the cores fail to start. There is no error message, just a hung client.
  7. There are potential errors if you've chosen a hostname for your computer which also exists on the internet. If your machine is called "MyComputer" and a ping MyComputer gives you any appreciable time delay, change your computer's hostname.
  8. SMP clients can be affected by changing network settings.

* When installing the Windows SMP beta client it requires that the account under which the client runs MUST have a password. Blank passwords will cause the FAH cores to fail.

* If installing the client on a Windows 2000 or XP based PC, Microsoft .NET framework v2.0 must be installed (please make sure that this is done prior to installing the client). You may download Microsoft' .NET framework v2.0 from here. For those wanting to run the SMP client on a Vista based machine, the .NET framework is not required as Vista comes bundled with it already.

* The SMP beta client is extremely susceptible to overclock instability other problems associated with your PC. If your overclock appears to be stable, it is best to double-check using a stability test program which stresses the CPU using code very similar to the [email protected] simulation software. Feel free to download and check your overclock stability using StressCPU v2, which can be downloaded from here.

* You'll need the Windows SMP beta client which can be downloaded from here

Now that we have tested our overclock is nice and stable, and we've installed a password on our user account and installed Microsoft's .NET, we can now proceed with the SMP beta client installation. I have taken the liberty of including supporting images to help with every step of the installation process too. Let's go...
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Most Recent Comments

19-06-2007, 08:11:51

Excellent guide PV, hope it didn`t dent u`r hols too much >.<

Am I to assume straight-off-the-bat, that if u`r using a stripped install of XP with amoungst other things .Net framework (V2) not installed - unless u choose to install it, u can`t run SMP ?Quote

19-06-2007, 08:12:45

Truely amazing guide PV!

But should I wait for my current work units to finish before I start running the SMP console?Quote

19-06-2007, 08:14:00

Thanks Rastalovich it was my pleasure. I still have plenty of hols yet to burn, so it's cool.

In answer to your question, unfortunately the SMP client requires .NET in order to run simulations.

Originally Posted by Toxcity
Truely amazing guide PV!

But should I wait for my current work units to finish before I start running the SMP console?
Thanks Toxcity...that help you out? Yes you should finish your current WU's otherwise they will simply be passed onto someone else to do. Plus it's results that Stanford will have to wait further time forQuote

19-06-2007, 08:16:42

Originally Posted by name='Toxcity'
Truely amazing guide PV!

But should I wait for my current work units to finish before I start running the SMP console?
Thanks Toxcity...that help you out? Yes you should finish your current WU's otherwise they will simply be passed onto someone else to do. Plus it's results that Stanford will have to wait further time for.Quote

19-06-2007, 08:19:53

In relation to the Tox question, I would *like* to assume that a work folder is a work folder and u should be able to transfer one to the other - however, in this crazily slanted world we live in, I bet u can`t >.< I guess the same thought should be given to making mac work folders work in pcs and vice-versa, but ???

I`d be interested if any fashion of `queueing` could be sorted out for work-loads. Reason I ask is if u have 10 pcs folding, then suddenly have to use these pcs for something else, it`d be ideal to gather up all the work folders on each one and be able to stack it all on another pc to be dealt with when it has time. It`s a pita to make the thing ask for net acess and introduce folders from another pc and so on..Quote

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