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MathGroup Archive 1999

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Re: Does Mathematica work reliably in an Overclocked system

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg19902] Re: [mg19859] Does Mathematica work reliably in an Overclocked system
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at wolfram.com>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Sep 1999 02:22:42 -0400
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

> Is it possible that when you run mathematica in an overclocked system, it
> will give you an incorrect results without you even knowing it ?
> Is there any way that I can do to prevent it from happening and still
> overclock the CPU ?
> System: PIII450 at 600, Abit BX6 R2 motherboard, 256 MB RAM.

Mathematica doesn't do any checking for over-clocked systems.
So, if the CPU starts returning wrong results because of heat
or manufacturing defects, there's not much Mathematica can do.

I suggest you check out the GIMPS software for finding Mersennes
primes, at
	http://www.mersenne.org/prime.htm
One of the things you can do with this sofware is to "torture test"
your CPU and find out if things are running correctly in your
over-clocked system...particularly with constant usage of the floating
point unit (which may be in issue in Mathematica, as well, depending
upon how you're using it).  Here's a relevant paragraph from NTPrime's
readme (NTPrime is the NT version of the GIMPS software) concerning
CPU reliability with their software:

  How can this [possible hardware failure reported by NTPrime] be when
  none of your other programs have problems?  The answer is that
  ntprime stresses your machine more than any other program you run.
  The operating system usually shuts down the floating-point unit when
  no programs are using it.  Ntprime continuously uses the FPU,
  consuming more electricity and generating more heat.  If the CPU is
  not properly cooled, errors can occur.  Ntprime also constantly
  accesses main memory - up to 60MB per second.  This constant activity
  will detect memory problems that other programs do not.  This is why
  Cray Research has used a program similar to this one as part of its
  supercomputer diagnostics package for over a decade.

and another concerning overclocking:

  If you have overclocked your machine, I highly recommend running the
  torture test for a couple of days.  The longer you run the torture
  test the greater the chance that you will uncover an error caused by
  overheating.

Of course, as you are probably aware, if there is a hardware problem,
it's pretty much that you got the bad luck of the draw.  Perhaps your
chip will run well at higher speeds and perhaps not...it's a crap
shoot.

There's probably plenty of other software out there that will torture
test your Pentium III as well...NTPrime just happens to be the one that
I'm immediately aware of.

Sincerely,

John Fultz
jfultz at wolfram.com
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.


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