Last year I posted news of a new PC c/o PC Specialist and when I say c/o I do mean I bought it, they supplied it - although some sponsorship here would be greatly appreciated. I was really pleased with the new machine, but found that it was unstable. I'd leave it alone crunching data SETI@Home with everything else switched off only to return and find the display gone. The PC itself seemingly running, but no life, no recovery from the monitor. Windows 7 also reported an error with the nvidia graphics driver.
I put the problem down initially to new 64-bit operating system and fairly new graphics drivers. I need patience in my job, shell loads of it. So, I thought patience here too. Gradually though the problem became more acute, I'd be sat there and even following a reboot after 45 then 20 minutes the black screen of death. As the 1st anniversary of the purchase was approaching and the problem was becoming infernal the PC running in 'Safe mode' - no thanks! I contacted PC Specialist.
I'd checked online for problems with the nvidia 460 - I've two of them for the CUDA processing - only to learn of acute problems encountered by some very dissatisfied and experienced users - PC 'BIY' (build it yourself). Digging online isn't always good for your health. The revelations there didn't scare the pants off me tho - as I frequently sit at the PC in the nude - but never when using my Macbook (only kidding!). I'd checked the usual things; cables, connections, outputs, how the cards were sitting, anything loose in there?
Anyway after the suggestion of swapping out the cards, I arranged for a RMA Return Merchandise Authorization. To cut a long story a bit shorter, the PC was duly returned to me and unfortunately I quickly experienced the same issue. This time I checked the temperatures under the hood, and yes the CPU was overheating and everything fan wise seemed in order.
While I was in Kos, PC Specialist once again stepped up to the plate. The PC was also on its hols; saying hello (again!) to some new hardware friends. When I got back I told the PC how the holiday had been and the PC told me a few stories. It marvelled at the apparent speed with which things change on the component shelf. Unpacking, this time there was no internal foam packing. I carefully started things up. Reading the technical support feedback no fault was found. There was an issue when BOINC was running:
Things were getting hot with the inevitable shutdown. Ever since I first noticed the stars - which also came early to my three children "Twinkle Twinkle little star" - and reading Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence, edited by Carl Sagan, MIT, I was bound to become a citizen scientist. I would do Planet Hunters too - but time! The planets around other stars that they routinely discover now - and the stellar anomalies - it's brilliant.
In my impatience I was wowed by the i7, the GPUs and the nine data units I could crunch. I had catered for extra cooling, but not to the H2O level. Anyway tech support have adjusted the settings. This week being warmer in the UK I've slowed things down further.
Since last Friday things have been running aok. I know I'm not very green in crunching this data constantly, but almost as if to reflect my obsession and true colour while there was reportedly no fault I'm sure the graphic cards (still 460's) have changed colour - upside-down maybe? Must check....
It's great to have this continuity and stability at last - and believe me I hope it lasts. That said, the PC is not a hostage to this app. There's other work to be done ....
On that note ... if you should be in NW England it's looking like the Drupal User Group will now be meeting on the 1st Wednesday evenings of the month at Madlab Manchester, UK.