View Full Version : Can SETI@home cause your CPU to over heat?!

2007-Feb-20, 11:47 PM
I found this on the SETI at home site when I went over there to join the project

The applications run by SETI@home may cause some computers to overheat. If this happens, stop running SETI@home or use a utility program (http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/download_network.php) that limits CPU usage.


is this a rare thing? I thought that that sort of thing was nearly imposible.....

ETA sorry, maybe it is not the CPU that overheats. But how are you even supposed to know that your computer is over heating? Does it get THAT hot?

2007-Feb-21, 12:31 AM
It can happen quite easily, especially since SETI@home runs your processor pretty much full out. If you don't have sufficient cooling, it will over-heat.

How do you know? Well, you might have a utility that warns you. Many motherboards come with them. You might simply notice that your computer is very slow (the processor is throttling itself down to prevent damage). Or, your machine might simply turn off and not restart for several minutes (until it has cooled down).

2007-Feb-21, 12:35 AM
You bet it can overheat a CPU, especially a "hot rod" CPU. When it runs in the bacground, it can (and should, actually) peg CPU at 100%. When it's doing that, she's going wide open with heat output. :)

Any decent motherboard worth its salt nowadays should come with at least a utlitity program to all you to monitor CPU and other critical temperatures (such as the chipset). And many modern motherboards have hardware that will shut the system down if temperature limits are exceeded.

Overclockers are notorious for overheating systems. :) Watercooling is going overboard, but there is an "enthusiast market" out there that blows money on that kind of stuff. And a segment of the enthusiasts are into SETI@home and like to compete for who can crunch a data set the fastest.

Intel got into compiler market, making highly optimizing C/C++ and Fortran compilers (this is where the Fortran that started out with MS, went to DEC, then Compaq finally wound up, with Intel), billed as supposed to make the most of Intel hardware.

Me, I am a dual CPU nut and have been for some time, well before hyperthreading and dual core (the former being a very weak "dual CPU" thing that is actually a bit different, while the latter is closer to it -- my next motherboard here is going to be a dual socket, dual CPU job. 4 total physical processors. If those are hyperthreaders, that will be 8 logical CPU).

Only problem was SETI was not designed for parallel processing. Now, one of Intel's compilers' claim to fame was to be able to optimize code for multiple CPUs, both vectorizing and multi-threading, being able to take some loops and splitting them up amongst threads, and being able to do that in a smart way.

And so, to test that, I went to the SETI@home "compile your own" sites, got the source code, and after some consternation getting it to compile, turned Intel's compilers loose on it.

The straight single-threaded version could only achieve 67% CPU usuage. The actual executable pathway does make use of multiple threads, mostly for the background stuff and the system interaction and that's why it gets over 50% on a two CPU system. But the main code doesn't take advantage.

Well, Intel's compiler did achieve 100% CPU on this dual system, doing as it billed itself. I was most impressed.

Well, I'm rambling, but believe me, doing that with custom SETI code, and on an overclocked system, one can indeed overheat one's innards.

2007-Feb-21, 12:37 AM
SETI@home should only cause your CPU to overheat if there isn't enough cooling - for instance if the CPU heatsink or fan aren't installed or working correctly, or there is fluff blocking airflow to the CPU or through the case fans and ventilation slots.

The thing is SETI@home puts a pretty constant 100% load on the CPU. Not a lot of programs do that, so people may have computers that seem to run perfectly well, but that's only because they haven't put the PC under full load for an extended length of time. SETI@home is a very good "soak test" of your PC's cooling!

So if SETI@home causes the PC to lockup or reboot or shutdown unexpectedly after extended use, it may be worth opening the case and cleaning out any fluff or dust. Check the fans or grilles arent obstructed. Check the cpu fan for fluff etc etc.

The program isn't going to cause a properly maintained and cooled PC to overheat! :)

EDIT: It seems I took too long composing this, and 2 people got in before me!

2007-Feb-21, 01:15 AM
i get a 5 degree rise in temperature....

i used speedfan.
SpeedFan 4.32 Beta 17 is a freeware program that monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips.

Read more (http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php)