What do I do with all these servers?
December 19, 2010 9:28 PM   Subscribe

What can I do with my basement 3D render farm when it's not being used by me?

I have 5 HP ProLiant DL380s in a rack in my basement -- a total of 20 processor cores. Each server runs a render client so that I can shave off hours on a high-res 3D render. Really -- a drawing that would take 5 hours to render on my quad-core desktop alone takes 15 minutes with the servers doing most of the work. They are connected via a gigabit network to a broadband cable connection. They also are all connected via ILO ports so I have full control over them even when they're sleeping or completely turned off. They run Server 2008 and the render client. Nothing else.

Because of power consumption, I keep them turned off at night and remotely boot them from upstairs on days that I need to render.

I'm not interested in offering a service to make money, because I can't guarantee uptime or data integrity.

If I were to leave them on all the time, what interesting or charitable things could I do with all this processing power? By charitable, I mean things that I can write off to cover the power consumption. By the way, I run an LLC out of my home and the 3D renderings are of products that my company manufactures.

I'm looking at running Folding@home, but I'm wondering if there are other worthwhile things I don't know about.

I have no need for a media server or NAS, and I don't really want to host my company's domains or email here either unless I can monetarily justify keeping at least one server on all the time. Again, I'm looking for fun or charitable uses.
posted by PSB to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I came in to recommend Folding@home, but I see you're already thinking of it. Personally, I think it's the most worthy cause because it is providing insights that have potential to lead to cures for a lot of terrible diseases.

But if you still want other options, this Wikipedia list of distributed computing projects is probably a good place to start.
posted by richyoung at 9:54 PM on December 19, 2010

I use BOINC and one of the things I like best about it is that it can process on multiple cores, and automatically shut off when it detects any other activity on the computer.

Warning: I'm not sure if it's just my client or my computer or what, but when I throttle the processor speed on the BOINC application, it defaults to only using one core.
posted by saveyoursanity at 10:37 PM on December 19, 2010

Well, they're only going to be about 4-500W, so it's not a huge power suck when they're on. I bet the fans are more annoying.

I've never heard of deductible uses for spare computing power, but I'd be curious to know. Have you asked your accountant?
posted by rhizome at 2:52 AM on December 20, 2010

4-500W apiece, that is.
posted by rhizome at 2:52 AM on December 20, 2010

I'm not interested in offering a service to make money, because I can't guarantee uptime or data integrity.
Eh, you could run an 'upload your file and have it rendered' service, and have it pump extra work to EC2 if your cluster isn't running. If you like developing software it could be a fun project.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 AM on December 20, 2010

Personaly I recomend Folding@home they need all the help people can provide.

Or how about making some virtual money, with Bitcoin..
posted by jbalwen52 at 10:16 PM on December 22, 2010

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