Mikey’s thoughts on Xgrid

8 09 2007

This started off as a small question and ended up being informational, sorry for the ramble. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So i’ve been messing around with Xgrid a bit this morning, seeing what two macbooks (one black, one pro) can do to increase the speed of video conversion.

Took a while to get setup, there doesn’t appear to be any config tool out there. I used the instructions from [url=http://www.macgeekery.com/gspot/2006-06/setting_up_an_xgrid_controller_in_tiger]this[/url] page.

As a speed test, i used visualhub to transcode some video from Mpeg-1 to H.264 (reduces the size by about half).

First run took 29 minutes or therabouts, with Xgrid disabled.
The Xgrid took 11:10 seconds, with a Macbook Pro 2.2Ghz & Macbook 2.0Ghz as Agents.

So quite a considerable increase. 8)

Apparently VisualHub works better on dual core processors with Xgrid enabled, so lastly i gave that a go with only the Macbook Pro assigned to the grid. The time taken was 13:04 – wtf? i had to run this conversion twice to see if it was limited to what i was converting.

Using the same files, the Xgrid made 10.37. Maybe i thought, this is because it’s being done over wireless, but nope, actually a worse result over ethernet.

So theres definitly some overhead involved, as the macbook pro was working hard while the macbook was idle for at least part of the time. In windows it would be termed priority, what is it on a mac? I think the Xgrid controller that’s dishing out jobs has to have a higher priority than the Xgrid agent doing the work, but i’m not sure how to change this. Any ideas?

If you want to do it yourself :
I found a program that allows you to avoid the command line bs .. [url=http://edbaskerville.com/software/xgridlite/]here[/url]. It ads a system preferences pane to allow you to start / stop / set passwords, which IMHO should be able to be done by Xgrid Admin. Seems strange to leave it out.

You’ll also want the [url=http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/serveradmintools1047.html]server admin tools[/url] if you want to monitor what your xgrid is doing.

What strikes me as strange is that if i select “Agent accepts tasks only when this computer is idle”, the tasks dont start, because i believe the macbook thinks it’s not idle, as there’s still background processes running.

Works fine when i’ve got it set to ‘agent always accepts tasks’, though ๐Ÿ™‚


Mikey Bashes a new PC

4 08 2007

I ended up taking a punt and purchasing an MSI 8600GT to go in my antec Fusion based HTPC. I’d been told that it should fit, but i was skeptical..

which was right, because it lacked about 10mm of clearance for the case to be able to shut properly.

I tested the case without it being completely shut, and found that temperatures were for the most part – fine. But it bugged me that i couldn’t close the case, that can’t be bad for the designed airflow inside the case.

So, I modified the lid so that it could be made to close Smile It was easier than i thought it’d be.

Tools :
Rubber Mallet
Wood Chisel (I used an Irwin Marples 19mm)
Length of ‘soft pine’ approx 150mm x 50mm x 500mm

I used a few sheets of paper to make a representation of where the MSI card would come into contact with the case, so that i would be able to make the ‘bump’ in the right spot.

I made the ‘bump’ in the block of pine, such that it would line up with the right side of the case and be flat against the metal risers. I’d push the metal into this bump.

I then tested my theory on a spare case that i was about to throw out. Using the mallet, it seemed not to have any effect, so i used a hammer – which turned out very ugly.

I tried again on another piece of case side, only using the mallet, and applying more force. This worked far better than the previous case, so i put this to ‘production’.

I marked the fusion’s lid with dots where the ‘bump’ was to go, measuring with sheets of paper (no ruler handy). I then marked the left and right edges of the case with dots, to show where the case should line up with the block of pine.

I then got malleting. It took me about 5-10 minutes, mainly *whack* check lineup and repeat. I wanted to make sure that i kept the metal steady, or i’d make no progress.

All up, it was a complete success. Cool

The thing that took the longest was me convincing myself that it was a good idea to take a rubber mallet to my new case.. but i figured that at worst, i could buy a new NSK2400 for ~130 to replace a lid that i’d mangled.

And now, the lid closes and i’m sure my chi has skyrocketed. Very Happy

edit: i’ve noticed in the second to last photo it looks as if the case doesn’t close properly, though i can assure you it does. Looks like an effect of the camera flash. Wierd oneย Smile