CPU Usage

Why does the World Community Grid software only use 60% of my CPU time?

When World Community Grid was started in 2004, we heard isolated reports of computer instability while running the software at 100%. Because of this we changed the default setting to only run at 60% of the unused processor time. Members are able to modify the cpu time from 10% to 100% to suit their own needs by making a change to their device profile. However, anyone making the change to more than 60% should monitor their device to ensure that the change has not had an adverse impact. If it does then they should revert back to the default settings.

How do I get the software to use 100% of the available CPU?

The software has a default setting of 60%. You may change the CPU utilization setting to 100% CPU utilization, we certainly welcome the additional contribution this setting brings to our projects.

  • To change your preferences for all computers under your member name, sign on to our website and go to your “Settings” page. Select “Device Manager”, then “Device Profiles from the left hand Navigation. Click the Profile Name that you want to alter and select “Custom Profile”. Under “Disk Usage” change your setting to reflect: “Use no more than: 100% of total disk space” and select “save”. The new settings will take effect when the agent software next communicates with the servers.
  • To change the preferences for a particular computer under your member name. Double left click on the World Community Grid, or BOINC, icon in the system tray of the appropriate computer. Select Preferences from Simple View. Then check “I want to customize my preferences for this computer only” and the information panel should reflect “Use no more than 100% of the processor” and “save”. The setting changes made here take effect immediately and override those in the device profile above.

Why does my device show high CPU use?

The CPU in computers and other computing devices is actually highly utilized no matter what is going on, except when it is powered off, or stopped. There is a hidden "idle" task running in the background that runs at lower priority than everything else in the device, even lower than the World Community Grid software. The idle task counts up the percentage of the time it runs and calls this "idle time" and reduces the reported CPU utilization figure accordingly. Neither the World Community Software software nor the idle task will run if your device has other work to do. However, since our software runs at a slightly higher priority than the idle task, the idle task won't run at all and thus report that your computer will be 100% utilized*. Having our software run in the background along with other applications is usually not a problem unless you have a system with relatively little memory. For such systems you may want to change your preferences to meet your requirements.

An overview of the various performance settings may be found here.

* Note: If you set the throttle in the BOINC agent (called: Use no more than: % of processor time) to 60%, the agent will run at 100% for three seconds, and then at 0% for two seconds.

Could running the software cause my computer to overheat?

A few machines have not been designed with sufficient cooling, fins sometimes fill with dust, and some fans run slower with age. This could be a problem whether you are running our software or not. However, we have found that some recently designed machines deal with the slight increase in CPU temperature from running at higher utilization percentages, by slowing the system clock rather than speeding up the cooling fan as needed. This could cause everything to run slower on such a machine. To keep this from happening, the software’s default CPU throttle is set to around 60%.

I have received the error message "Suspending computation - CPU usage is too high" in my Message Log. What action can be taken to fix this?

This message means that other applications on your device are using your processor to do work. In order to allow those applications to run as fast as possible, the World Community Grid software is suspending the research until your device is once again idle.
If you wish to change the level of processor use that is required before World Community Grid stops running the research application, then please take the following steps:

  • Go to your Device Manager page.
  • Find the name of your device in the list, and then click on the profile associated with that device. In most cases, it will be the 'Default' profile.
  • On the Device Profile page, select 'Custom Profile'.
  • Halfway down the page there is a setting that says 'Suspend work if CPU usage is above XX% of cpu'. Change this value to fit your needs.