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is constant CPU usage bad?

Posted on 2004-04-24
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Last Modified: 2012-06-22
Hi,

I've been using "google compute" on my pc and was wondering if this is wise considering it uses 100% CPU power all the time.

Cheers
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Question by:2000bug
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by:5t0rmUK
5t0rmUK earned 70 total points
ID: 10909839
Google Compute should be NON-EVASIVE.

100% CPU permanantly is definately NOT non-evasive.  May I suggest that something is wrong with the installation / settings somewhere.

The main answer to your question is:  NO it is not wise to run your PC @ 100% all the time.  

Sustained periods of several hours are ok, but i certainly would not recommend this action for days at a time.  

You will probably end up frying your CPU, it will also put a huge strain on the CPU cooling system, at worst if you are out and you cooler fails, it could trash you M/B and other compenents, it could also be a fire risk.

I never leave my PC performing 100% CPU processing when no-one is at home.  It is rare but fires can result from failed cooling on 100% CPU activity.

Regards.

Mike.
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by:jrt01uk
ID: 10909948
I agree with Mike - using idle CPU time is fine and dandy - but not for extended periods of time.

http://toolbar.google.com/dc/faq_dc.html#trouble2
Google has a section on their website saying this 100% CPU usage is completely normal, and that it runs in the background with minimal priority. However, you can switch it to a 'Conservative' mode, which only runs when your computer is completely idle.
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by:2000bug
ID: 10910033
what about at other levels such as 40% or is that just as bad as 100% in the long term
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by:Callandor
Callandor earned 50 total points
ID: 10910374
To be technically correct, it's not the running of the cpu at 100% that is a risk, it's the running of the entire system that increases the wear on the cpu fan, which is a mechanical device.  If that fails, then you have the risk of an overheat condition.  Running a system at 50% for the same amount of time is the same risk, because it's the fan you are worried about, and it runs the same in both situations, unless you have a variable speed fan tied in to the temperature.  Servers run 24/7, but they usually have monitoring devices to set off alarms when something like a fan fails.
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by:goblin072
ID: 10910608
Your a good man helping out folding proteins.  

You can set it to use less cpu time if you choose.

If you have a rock solid system, good fans etc then it will be ok.  But...

I would check out how hot your cpu is running.   Make sure your case is well ventilated.

I did the SETI program which is similar on my old linux box.  It was pegged 24/7 for weeks and never had a problem.  That was in the days of slower cooler cpus.   It was running on a celeron 300a @ 450mhz, I think the entire kernal fit inside the cpus 128k cache.  Even pegged out at 100% that cpu did not produce anywhere near the heat the new ones do.

If you have a fast computer (1.4GHZ or more) lower the priority so it uses like 25% cpu time at most.  Give them 300 to 600 mhz.   That way you are still helping but your not cooking your system.

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by:5t0rmUK
ID: 10911377
Callandor to be technically technically correct indeed it is the CPU running at 100% that eventually screw your CPU cooler.

A system with the fan running 24/7 is not a problem.  Please do not forget "how close" the cooler is in proximity to the CPU, and in turn is exposed to extreme temperatures.

The system running @ 40% load will run perfectly year round (Like my computer and many servers do).  But 100% no way.

Do not forget extreme heat will expand the bearings / mechanism of the fan and put huge wear on it.  The lubrication within the mechanism would also dry out quicker, and then friction sets in and causes more problems.

I am talking of the latest generation of CPU's now, not the old PIII & Celerons.

The best example I could think of is a car.  You drive it year round with a full engine of oil.  The speed you do is 40 MPH.  
Now the temperature is more or less constant under the bonnet and like you say the mechanism is running permantly. (Exactly like inside your PC)  

Now run the same engine with full oil at 150MPH.
The temperature under the bonnet would be more or less the same, BUT I guarantee the mechanism, I.E. the engine won't last you long !!

I believe you have the answer to your questions all listed above.

Yes do the google thing but limit you CPU usage to 25 - 35% like goblin072 suggested and you will not encounter any problems or @ least minimise any risks.
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by:2000bug
ID: 10911453
Thank you for all your comments ... could someone suggest a good system monitor?

Points will be shared
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by:5t0rmUK
5t0rmUK earned 70 total points
ID: 10911592
If using Win2k or XP you just need to press (ctrl - alt - del)  When task manager appears just minimise it.  This will minimise it to the systray (near clock).  If you hovver your mouse over, it will give cpu usage.

I myself use Norton Utilities, this has a whole host of dashboard controls & Views.  Downside is it costs !!

Also you could use Motherboard Monitor

http://mbm.livewiredev.com/

This software will give you live readings of CPU temps and fan speeds.  You may also set it to sound an alarm and auto shutdown your PC on fan failure or overheat of CPU.

Regards.

Mike.
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RLGSC earned 100 total points
ID: 10911722
2000Bug,

I am sorry to dissent from the opinions of most of your responders, but running a system flat out for years at a time is not a problem, in and of itself.

The cooling question, and indeed the related question of the performance of the power supply is the more critical question. Non-PC server systems often run at what amounts to 100% CPU utilization all the time (in some operating systems, the idle loop is not a WAIT, but BRANCH to itself, thus while the CPU monitor will show idle time, the CPU itself is far from idle).

If you have system components that are not designed for continuous duty, then you may have a problem (but then again, when you buy an attic fan for your house, you should always purchase one that is rated for continuous duty). It is unfortunate, but one of the places manufacturers and assemblers save money when integrating machines for low-cost markets is in reducing the presumed usage (duty cycle), and therefore savings a few dollars.

Even low end office-grade systems should be usable on that basis.

Certainly, I have never heard a credible claim that a CPU has failed due to executing certain instructions too often (smile).

However, the earlier respondents were not incorrect in pointing out that fans and ventilation are an important issue.

I hope that the above is helpful.

- Bob (aka RLGSC)
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by:goblin072
goblin072 earned 100 total points
ID: 10912068
I use MBM 5 for my IC7MAX3 rig.  

http://search.netscape.com/ns/boomframe.jsp?query=motherboard+monitor+5&page=1&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3D3b8bee16baaa1ac1%26clickedItemRank%3D3%26userQuery%3Dmotherboard%2Bmonitor%2B5%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.pcworld.com%252Fdownloads%252Ffile_description%252F0%252Cfid%252C7309%252C00.asp%26invocationType%3D-%26fromPage%3DNSCPTop%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pcworld.com%2Fdownloads%2Ffile_description%2F0%2Cfid%2C7309%2C00.asp

There are others but this one works, and so far no mem leaks or other annoying problems that background resource sucking utilities have.

If you want to test you system to see if it can handle 100% cpu util.  Then run two instances of a program called Prime95.  It will bring a unstable system to its knees.

People are making too many assumptions about the stabilty of current systems.   You can have failures other than the cpu running at 100%.

1.  Memory- gets hot, do you have heat spreaders on the DDR?

2.  Power supply -  This is where companies save some cash by cutting corners on the PS..  How ofter does anyone test exactly how clean the ouput is?  Also power supplies drop dramatically in capacity when they get hot.  Some 450s will act like a 350 under load.  How do they get hot?  Run your cpu 24/7 w the cpu pegged 100%.  I use PC power N cooling.  No worries! but expensive.

3.  Dust - yes dust will clog your cooling capacity.  Be sure to clean out the inside of the case once in a while.  How ofter?  Depends on your air quality.   Check it over a period of weeks to get a feel for the dust build up.  

4.  Case cooling.   Most cases are undercooled.   For best cooling have more air comming in that comming out.   Ie forced air.  The best air based cpu cooler in the world will not keep a cpu cool if the case is holding the hot air.  In many cases the first thing to fail is the DDR, not the cpu.   The problem is this will lead to Ghost in the machine.  A system that works but is quirky, you may end up blaming the OS, some app etc.  When its none of them.

In theory you should be able to run a modern cpu pegged out all day long.  The reality is many systems are not factory tested to do this.  The mother of all *#$(#-ups is Assumption.
never assume it will handle the strain unless you do some homework.

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by:mingtze
mingtze earned 50 total points
ID: 10913313
Hi, 2000bug.

To directly answer your question : No, it is not bad.

This is because you have paid for the performance as rated by the CPU which you have bought. If you are using a Pentium 4 2.4 ghz, 100% utilization is merely running it at 2.4 ghz, nothing more. Anything less, and you can say you are actually not making the fullest of your processor :) The temperature will rise of course, and if you are using the stock Intel/Amd heatsink fan which came with the boxed processor, is usually of variable speed and will speed up to match. This is all done within QA specs of the relevant CPU manufacturer. So I stress again, 100% is not a problem because it is merely doing what it was created to do in the first place (and guaranteed by the manufacturer too).

It should theoretically run at 100% indefinitely (note : to the point of obsoletion, not end of time) and when it eventually fails it is most probably another factor which brought it down (power supply unstable, causing irregular voltage to the CPU/motherboard/fan etc etc..down to dust and dirt clogging up the CPU fan causing it to malfunction). Keep in mind this is an electronic component and not a mechanical component, so while wear and tear is an issue it happens on a much minute and different scale. Thus comparing with say, a car engine is perhaps not the best comparison because the CPU has much more in common with your pocket calculator than an engine. And you do not worry whether you should do simple addition instead of complex multiplication/division as "not to overly stress the calculator at 100%" right?

I may have repeated what others have already mentioned but hope I helped! Good luck!
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by:Callandor
ID: 10913718
5t0rmUK,

As you can see, there are a number of dissenting opinions from yours.  However, if you can provide a link that shows running at 100% is detrimental to the lifetime of a cpu, I would be happy to update my personal knowledge.
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by:snerkel
snerkel earned 30 total points
ID: 10914108
Just to add, if you ensure your processor temperature is within manufacturers limits then you should be OK.

The processor fan in a tower case will be far enough away from the heat source to not suffer any adverse effects. Many modern motherboards have hardware monitors built-in to the Bios that can shutdown your PC in the event of a fan failure.

As goblin072 suggests MBM 5 is a good temperature monitor.

Even if PC is just idling and fan fails then you risk frying your processor, as the fan runs if system is idling or at 100% then the mechanical life will be roughly the same (slightly raised case temperature MAY shorten fan life but this will be negligable)

If you are really concerned have a read of some of the overclocker sites, they tend to push systems way beyond the levels you are talking.

http://www.virtual-hideout.net has some interesting stuff.
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by:goblin072
ID: 10915948
One more point.   Staying within intels heat specs should mean you are ok but I have not found that to be the case and many others have found the same.
Take a look at overclockers forums.  I overclock too but only when I really need it.

Intel/amd cpus should be fine at 60c many systems start to crap out at temps above 60c but well below the chips thermal limits.   I could be just do to poor monitoring software/hardware ie
the chips really at 90c and not 60c.   I don't think they are off by that much.
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by:2000bug
ID: 10916858
I am quite pleased this question has raised such an debate, it has given me more insight than I had hoped for.

Thank you to everyone who contributed

It is hard thus for me to award points, so I've increased it by a lot to reflect the quality of responses on here. I have awarded them according to my conclusion:

"Running CPU at 100% is thereoricatlly fine, but not if your system is badly ventilated and in the end the fans/memory are likely to fail first"
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by:5t0rmUK
ID: 10917077
LOL !!   You certainly did stir up a hornet's nest with this one.

Not only did I get some lovely points, I also got some very interesting views, which in-turn has made me also look at this issue from a different perspective.

Cheers


Mike.
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by:goblin072
ID: 10923906
This has nothing to do with the topic but I thought I would stir up the nest some more.

I have been helping people for free for many years and in turn I have been helped by others too.   I don't really keep track of how many times
I have help others vs getting help myself.  If I did I am quite sure that I give more than I take and thats fine with me.  I am new to this forum but not
new to helping people online.

This forums setup is different.   I have no idea of how good the quality of information is since I am not allowed to surf here unrestricted.  I'm not about to
pay them for help.   I guess when I get 10,000 points I will find out.   But looking at it from an outsiders and my cynical eye :) I can't help feeling like we are being manipulated.

I think its fine that others that do not have the time are willing to pay for help.   I don't have time to fix my driveway so I hire a guy that knows his stuff to fix it for me.  I pay him
he does a good job we both are happy.

People here that don't have time just pay a fee and they get all the help that they want.   There are many many fellow enthusiest that are more than willing to strut their computer
prowness and help out.  I can tell many here know the back end from the front of a computer case :)  Thats great I appreciate those people.

But.......

Maybe I am looking at this all the wrong way, I would be happy to have someone turn my thinking around 360.  

What I see is someone that is selling a procuct (information) using free employees.   How they keep the employees working for free is to set up a point competition, lets face it
many of us love competition.  The harder we work happier the customer and we love to please.   We get POINTS!   What do we do with these points?  Hmmm use them to better our
computer knowledge because non of us knows everything.     We take that new information and use it to help even more people.

All the time this is taking place someone is getting paid but its not us.
 
Feel like we are being EXPLOITED.  

Someone tell me what so good about this forum?  

I don't think I have ever run into a problem with a computer that either myself or with the help of friends and FREE newsgroups that I could not solve.   So I really do not think
this place has anything to offer me in terms of BETTER information.   Maybe more organized but that has yet to be seen with my own eyes.  I will have to hit 10,000 points and see for
myself.  

Don't get me wrong I am not trying to be cocky or anything like that.  I just don't like being taken advantage of.

I care more about helping some guy fix his system that counting points.  

I am hoping I am missing something and I have it all wrong. I have not really taken the time to find out how this site got started or who runs the show.

Someone please educate me.

 
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by:Callandor
ID: 10924072
Some people like helping other people and hanging out with others that think likewise.  I can tell you that the top experts in other TA's are really good, and one can learn a lot from them, but there are equally good experts who don't have as many points (or time) and also have things one can learn from.  If you are into learning, this place has a lot of it to spare.
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by:goblin072
ID: 10924394
I don't doubt what you say is true, I am sure it is.

I'm thinking of the guys that take in the money.   WHo are they?  

I would love to own a business where I had to pay my employees zero money, pay them zero health care benifits, zero unemployment etc and
have them cherfully help others.   I could award them points for helping the most customers.   And if they get enough points
I would allow them read some of my magazines for free. YEA!  All the wihile I am taking in all the profits for my greedy little grubby hands. hehe.

I don't have a beef with you or others that help,   I don't have a beef with the people looking for help.   I may have one with the people that run this site.

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by:Callandor
ID: 10924443
Well, I guess they have to pay for the servers and connectivity somehow, because that isn't free.
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by:goblin072
ID: 10925042
Hehe well yes in my fantasy land analogy I would of course be paying the heat, electric, rent etc.  Just not the employees.  

I think I have been in the inside of the business world too long, sorry for the rants.   Ignorance is bliss.
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by:goblin072
ID: 10931657
Cal, I can see why you defended the site.   You are one of the big guns here in hardware.  Good job!
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by:Callandor
ID: 10935088
Thanks, it's something I enjoy doing, and I hope that is true of all the contributors.
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by:goblin072
ID: 10936382
Cal, there is no question in my mind that these people are all good folks.
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