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Old 2011-07-04, 22:00   #1
Christenson
 
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Default Brown-Out and glitch protection?

My high-end (6-core AMD Phenom II Linux x64 box) crashed when the lights dimmed after a tree hit the electric wires somewhere on this soggy Independence Day evening, (It's raining and rumbling, we may not see the fireworks) but my lower-end XP box did not.

What measures do people have in place for short brownouts such as this? Why is the one box so much more robust than the other?

Is it that the 6-core box is much closer to the limits on the power supply, especially as it runs mfaktc?

Should I invest in a small battery backup, or is there some kind of power control under Linux I can use?
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Old 2011-07-04, 22:46   #2
mdettweiler
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Does the XP box have a higher-end power supply than the X6? I've noticed a similar effect with my own computers; one box (a Core 2 Quad, slightly overclocked), with a cheapie power supply that came with the case, is taken down by most power flickers, but another box (a Core 2 Duo, not overclocked) with a higher-grade power supply survives any power flicker that doesn't last more than a second or so.

I suppose the difference could be due to the one computer having more cores, and being overclocked (thus perhaps drawing more power relative to its PSU's capacity), but I'm more inclined to believe that it's due to the quality of the PSU, especially since the C2D's power-flicker resistance improved quite a bit when I recently replaced its PSU with a better one.

As for whether to invest in better protection, that would of course depend on your specific situation--is keeping the computer running stably and smoothly through flickers/brown-outs important enough to you to justify the cost of protective measures? Given the noticeable difference I've seen from upgrading my C2D's power supply, I would definitely invest in a medium-grade power supply (in the $35-$50 range instead of bargain-basement $20-$30 units), particularly if the computer is intended for everyday use. That may be enough for your purposes; if not, you can get a decent UPS for $50-$75 or so which will ensure that your computer can endure power flickers and outages of less than 5 minutes or so (longer if you get a more expensive UPS).
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Old 2011-07-05, 00:49   #3
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I have always used an uninterruptible power supply (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uninter...e_power_supply) with battery backup between my computer systems and the wall mains. The best ones (for home use, that is) protect against not only complete power failures for up to several minutes, but also momentary surges, sags and spikes.
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Old 2011-07-05, 01:15   #4
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The XP box is an HP/Compaq Small-Form-Factor PC, and I suspect it of having a lot of extra PS capacity. No overclocking involved.

The 6-core beast with GPU (supporting the largest GPU, the GTX440, it can without upgrading the power supply) has an Antec Earthwatts 390W PS. In retrospect, it would have been nice to have purchased a larger one.

5 minutes (or even half that) is plenty to ensure an orderly shutdown, as long as its not Windows; the question is whether I can get Linux OS support to do the shutdown and whether I can run a second, also power-hungry box with still more PS (6-700W for a GTX560 GPU and a Sandy Bridge 4 core CPU) on the same UPS.

Is Antec a good brand?
I need a toyota or honda....not too cheap, solid, works well for a long time....
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Old 2011-07-05, 01:29   #5
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christenson View Post
5 minutes (or even half that) is plenty to ensure an orderly shutdown, as long as its not Windows; the question is whether I can get Linux OS support to do the shutdown and whether I can run a second, also power-hungry box with still more PS (6-700W for a GTX560 GPU and a Sandy Bridge 4 core CPU) on the same UPS.
Again, speaking only of UPS for home use: Some models have a RS232 or other port, plus software, for notifying an OS of impending power failure.
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Old 2011-07-05, 01:43   #6
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Lately, those are USB and ethernet ports...RS232 is Sooooo Slow.......you have to buy an adapter if you actually want an RS232 port. Not that I don't use RS232 and RS422/485 industrially......
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Old 2011-07-05, 03:22   #7
mdettweiler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christenson View Post
The XP box is an HP/Compaq Small-Form-Factor PC, and I suspect it of having a lot of extra PS capacity. No overclocking involved.

The 6-core beast with GPU (supporting the largest GPU, the GTX440, it can without upgrading the power supply) has an Antec Earthwatts 390W PS. In retrospect, it would have been nice to have purchased a larger one.

5 minutes (or even half that) is plenty to ensure an orderly shutdown, as long as its not Windows; the question is whether I can get Linux OS support to do the shutdown and whether I can run a second, also power-hungry box with still more PS (6-700W for a GTX560 GPU and a Sandy Bridge 4 core CPU) on the same UPS.

Is Antec a good brand?
I need a toyota or honda....not too cheap, solid, works well for a long time....
Hmm...Antec PSUs usually are usually considered pretty good (not speaking from personal experience, though from the reviews on Newegg are generally quite favorable to the brand, including for the Earthwatts line like yours is from). Yours sounds like it's in a similar quality range to the one in my C2D, which makes me wonder if the relative load does have something to do with its power-flicker resistance. Mine is a 400W unit under approximately 240-250W load, which is right around the 50% mark that is generally considered ideal, whereas yours doesn't have too much extra capacity with the graphics card in there.

Perhaps someone around here with more understanding of how PSUs work could weigh in? I'm afraid I'm merely making up educated guesses at this point.
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Old 2011-07-05, 06:08   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christenson View Post
5 minutes (or even half that) is plenty to ensure an orderly shutdown, as long as its not Windows; the question is whether I can get Linux OS support to do the shutdown and whether I can run a second, also power-hungry box with still more PS (6-700W for a GTX560 GPU and a Sandy Bridge 4 core CPU) on the same UPS.
I've been using APC UPS's for several years, and I've lost track of the number of times they've saved my hide.

We live in an area prone to brownouts and total power outages -- seems like every time there's a thunderstorm, the lights go completely out at some point... usually the day after we finally got around to resetting all the clocks from the last outage.

I write for a living, and when the power goes off the PC there is seldom any way to reconstruct the creative work of the past X number of minutes. (Funny, the second version's invariably more pedestrian than the first.) Frequent saves aren't enough, and whether manual or automatic they rudely interrupt the artistic flow.

The mid- to high-end APCs come with a USB connection and software to automatically manage the orderly shutdown of the system... even if it's Windows! I'm not sure if they have Linux versions available.

But avoid the lowest-end model, the APC 350VA. It doesn't come with software or a USB port, so you "have to be there" when the power goes out, or soon enough thereafter, to shut down the system yourself. But even that model will do the trick for brownouts.

For a box slurping 700W, you're best off with a higher-end model, but be prepared to shell out in the $100 range if not more. The good thing is that it can also supply power to your monitor so that you can see what's going on. And, of course, you're also protecting your sensitive equipment from power spikes.

Finally -- yes, you can theoretically plug more than one system into the same UPS unit. A unit that can handle two computers will cost more. But I don't have experience doing this, so I'm not sure how the software would react. Plus, the number of outlets that provide power (as opposed to just surge protection) is limited. The models I've seen seem to be really designed as single-PC (+ peripherals) protectors.

HTH.

Rodrigo

Last fiddled with by Rodrigo on 2011-07-05 at 06:17 Reason: add'l info
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Old 2011-07-05, 13:42   #9
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodrigo View Post
I've been using APC UPS's for several years, and I've lost track of the number of times they've saved my hide.

...

The mid- to high-end APCs come with a USB connection and software to automatically manage the orderly shutdown of the system... even if it's Windows! I'm not sure if they have Linux versions available.
I second that!!! I only use APC. Sitting in front of a Back-UPS RS 700 right now, and the front-panel display says I have 38 minutes of run-time available at my current load (64 watts).

With regards to Linux control, yes, there's a very good package called apcupsd which can be installed from the standard package manager on just about every distribution. Can be configured to shutdown the machine once the power reserves are low during an outage, as well as querying the status of the device at any time.
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Old 2011-07-05, 22:41   #10
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Hmmm... I seem to have neglected to mention earlier that I always use APC.

Added: ... nowadays, that is. I tried another brand once.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2011-07-05 at 22:46
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Old 2011-07-06, 02:02   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
Hmmm... I seem to have neglected to mention earlier that I always use APC.

Added: ... nowadays, that is. I tried another brand once.
Newegg also seems to have a bunch of Eaton units on sale...anyone have experience with those?
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