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Old 2012-04-01, 18:00   #1
stars10250
 
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Default Electricity, GIMPS, and inverse relationships

As many here have pointed out, the cost of electricity becomes a significant part of the cost of running P95 24/7 after a few years of computing. I really started to notice this after firing up my fourth overclocked pc (don't get me started on cooling).

What I find interesting and annoying is that the magnificent achievement that is a modern day pc ultimately has less value than something like energy. I pay more for energy than I did for my computers; energy has more value to me. A modern-day CPU is a work of art whereas energy is something that even I can make. I never expected this. In college my focus was always on that next great achievement, not on the value of burning coal.

The same is true of my car. A car is an amazing thing, but grab a calculator and compare the cost of the car to the gas it will use in its lifetime and you soon find that you value gas more. Worse yet, add up the cost of insurance and you'll find you value that more too. The person who does essentially nothing, wins the most. The person that warms oil and condenses the fumes into a bucket comes in second. And the person that figures out how to assemble hundreds of parts into a thing of beauty to serve mankind, well, that person comes in last.

As an engineer I never considered that something like an insurance policy would be more valued than what I might someday hope to achieve from all my hard work. That people would pay more for something intangible that they may never even use. That the amazing gadget I might create, or discovery I might make, would be valued the least by society.

I guess this should have made sense to me sooner. In the limit of a really great achievement, for example e=mc**2, there is no money at all to be made. The most brilliant idea is of zero value. Marketing, lawyers, insurance, they are the winners.

Last fiddled with by stars10250 on 2012-04-01 at 18:02
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Old 2012-04-01, 19:00   #2
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Well, everyone values energy greatly, especially continuous use of it. We've also made the manufacture of cars and computer parts to be amazingly cheap, so that there is a plentiful supply of them. Consider if supply was diminished, and the price went up; up to how high would you be willing to pay for your computer? Up to how high would you pay for electricity before you started cutting back on its use?

Insurance is (in theory) a sort of communal emergency fund; if you do wind up needing it, that's wonderful, and if not, then somebody else probably needed it. Therefore (again, in theory, ignoring the pessimists out there) insurance is (sort of a stretch) how much you value your own well being and/or that of others. How high of a premium would you pay? What if they increased the benefits? Certainly your desire to protect yourself and your family should outweigh your desire to crunch for GIMPS.

Lawyers and stuff, that means that for many people, how they interact with others/society is important to them, more important than buying a computer that they wouldn't use.

Marketing... well, I got nothing there.
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Old 2012-04-01, 20:03   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stars10250 View Post
As an engineer I never considered that something like an insurance policy would be more valued than what I might someday hope to achieve from all my hard work.
This is a false comparison. You don't make choices about whether to buy a car or to buy liability insurance. You make a choice of which, if any, driving experience to purchase; and you must purchase both the car and the insurance (or neither). As an engineer, you should be comparing those choices of driving experiences on the basis of life cycle cost and utility. The life cycle cost includes the purchase, the gas, the insurance, the taxes, the repairs, the maintenance, the garaging costs, the replacement costs, and other things I haven't thought of immediately. The initial cost may indeed be a small part of the total life cycle cost - it is for many things. But you must buy the whole package - to talk about one part of the package being more valued than another part doesn't make sense.

On the utility side - utility is mostly the pleasure you get from one driving experience versus another. The engineering that goes into the car has the greatest impact on that utility. So the engineering contribution is more about changing the utility of the choice than about the changing the cost (though it of course affects many components of the life cycle cost, too).
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Old 2012-04-01, 20:14   #4
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Maybe we all need to get solar panels to run our systems. While these are not practical, I know a company near me makes portable solar panels that fold out to approx 3'x6' and can easily power a laptop but cost a couple hundred dollars. I figure buy 1, put away the savings each month till you can afford a 2nd and keep going.
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Old 2012-04-01, 20:45   #5
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Default Space heating

Some of us live in a climate/environment that means that
turning useful(?) computation into heat is not much worse
than freezing to death.

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Old 2012-04-02, 05:04   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wblipp View Post
As an engineer, you should be comparing those choices of driving experiences on the basis of life cycle cost and utility. The life cycle cost includes ...
I think you missed my point. What I was trying to say was that I naively thought the act of creation was mankind's highest achievement and I equated that with value. In my examples of a computer and an automobile, I was complaining that the creation aspect was instead the least valued by society as indicated by the price the consumer is willing to pay for it. Yes owning a car has dozens of implications such as putting gas in it, insuring it, maintaining it, etc. But the act of creating the car in the first place ends up having low value in comparison and I found that surprising.

I realize this is a naive perception, but witness how the user new to GIMPS agonizes over hardware and bang-for-the-buck and the cost of an additional 100 MHz only to overlook the larger sum of money that will be spent on electricity. True enough, we don't often enough think in terms of life-cycle costs.
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Old 2012-04-02, 05:45   #7
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Well... if you look at the most recent thread concerning what hardware to buy, the consensus was buy "latest and greatest" despite cost because in the computer world l&g means "smallest" which means least power consumption. Ivy Bridge will be a major step in that direction.
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Old 2012-04-02, 06:17   #8
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I always find it a help to respond to the most recent post rather than the penultimate one.
Although when you get to my age, it doesn't make much difference.

Glad to see we haven't all lost our marbles yet.

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Old 2012-04-02, 06:38   #9
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I'm very conscious about electricity cost. I only have 1 pc running 24/7 and I still have an older pc I can't afford to have running. When I upgrade next time I'll also shut down the old one.

I think it's even "worse" for me here in Denmark from what I read in the "electricity price comparison"-thread we had 1-2 years ago here. My electricity cost about $0.37 per kWh, which is probably between 2 and 4 times as much as you pay in the US and Canada depending on where you live.

If I bought a good gaming pc with a good graphic card for lets say $2000 and I ran it 24/7 with factoring/LL on the GPU and Prime95 on the CPU it would probably use at least 450 Watts constantly, those newer graphic cards are really using power. So I would use $2000 worth of electricity in:
($2000 / ($0.37/kWh) ) * 3,600,000 Joules/kWh / 450 (Joules/sec) ~ 43,243,000 sec ~ 500 days.

So in 1 year and 4.5 months I would have used the computers cost in electricity.

Here from AnandTech's latest Geforce GTX 680 review you can see modern systems use between 300 and 550 watts at full load, so 450 is pretty average:
http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph5699/45175.png
http://www.anandtech.com/show/5699/n...-680-review/19
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Old 2012-04-02, 06:51   #10
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I think it's faster than that, I'm fairly sure you could do 500W with $1000 or so, maybe a bit more, definitely less than $2000. With that much you could probably pull 800+W.
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Old 2012-04-02, 07:00   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubslow View Post
I think it's faster than that, I'm fairly sure you could do 500W with $1000 or so, maybe a bit more, definitely less than $2000. With that much you could probably pull 800+W.
Have you ever attended a physics lesson in your life?
(I know I missed a few).

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