Put my iMac to sleep or run Folding@Home?
December 4, 2006 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Which would more benefit humankind in general (albeit in a tiny, tiny way): Putting my iMac to sleep to conserve energy at night, or running Folding@Home?
posted by DakotaPaul to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sleep is going to be better, unless you happen to get your power via a green process (solar, wind, etc.)

an iMac uses about 60 watts if it is running. if you want to run Folding, just run it when you would have the computer on anyway.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 1:24 PM on December 4, 2006

Especially if it's an older iMac, like anything below 1 ghz, it's just not going to get the performance-per-watt to make it worthwhile.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:31 PM on December 4, 2006

Opinion: The fastest few % of the computers running any given distributed computing project typically account for a disproportionally large amount of processing. Unless you're running one of these (in Folding@Home's case that would be a GPU client), you're better off turning it off when you're not using it.

Modern processors consume more power and generate more heat when under heavy load, so if your computer is more than, say, three years old it probably isn't worth running the software at all.
posted by krisjohn at 1:54 PM on December 4, 2006

FWIW, the end results of Folding@Home, as well as timing, is uncertain at best, while energy conservation has a tangible positive end which you can accomplish today, now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:26 PM on December 4, 2006

Thanks for the replies so far—I've learned some things I hadn't thought about. FWIW, my iMac has a 1.8Ghz Intel Core Duo processor with 1GB of RAM.
posted by DakotaPaul at 3:25 PM on December 4, 2006

Sleep, as people have said. And as krisjohn says, I wouldnt run it when it's on anyway, as your CPU will be always running at 100%, and using way more power. Especially the new Intel processors can drop down to minimal power consumption when it isn't needed.
posted by Boobus Tuber at 3:51 PM on December 4, 2006

I say, screw them both and install Electric Sheep. The power saved is really relatively insignificant compared to the time you waste starting up and shutting down; why not get a trippy screensaver with pretty colors?
posted by Aanidaani at 7:26 PM on December 4, 2006

You didn't ask which of the options conserves the most power, but rather how much your actions will contribute to mankind.

While non-green power certainly represents a loss in terms of pollution, I certainly think that calculating protein foldings (or listening to the stars, or finding prime numbers, etc.) contributes significantly to the body of human knowledge.

We won't find the solution to our energy problem if we're not willing to spend the energy on research. I'd much rather blaze every processor on the planet to develop genespliced pollution-eating termites to fix what we've already wrought than to slip into a centuries-long darkage while we squabble in our own sewage.
posted by Netzapper at 7:33 PM on December 4, 2006

develop genespliced pollution-eating termites to fix what we've already wrought

This will not end well.
posted by intermod at 8:49 PM on December 4, 2006

The arguments against are very well reasoned, in general. However, a core duo is going to do relatively well on performance per watt compared to a lot of stuff it might have been (especially in the general computing case, rather than what might have been in an iMac).

Try to find as objective a figure of merit as you can, like work units per kWh, or something. Then at least you have something useful to judge with. Still a completely subjective decision, of course, but at some point the figure of merit will be so low that the wasted power outweighs the benefits, no matter how radically pro-folding you are..
posted by Chuckles at 11:04 PM on December 4, 2006

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