AMD, Nvidia GPUs for Cryptocurrency Mining Unveiled

As we’ve discussed at various points, the great cryptocurrency GPU mining craze of 2011 to 2014 (peaking in 2013) was great for GPU manufacturers’ profit margins, but terrible for AMD’s actual GPU sales and market share. At the time, GPU manufacturers weren’t interested in attempting to create mining-specific SKUs or capabilities, even though there was some information that suggested some ASICs held up better under constant mining loads than others.

There were reports at the time that FirePro workstation cards held up better over the long term than their Radeon counterparts when run 24/7. While this may have never been formally proven, and I don’t think AMD ever issued any statements on the topic, there’s at least a plausible mechanism of action for how such a thing could be possible. Both AMD and Nvidia put their workstation and professional GPUs through additional rounds of validation over and above consumer cards, and these cards are designed for more demanding environments.

This time around, companies like Asus and Sapphire seem to be getting in on the action with their own, dedicated mining cards. Asus has unveiled two GPUs, the AMD-based Mining RX 470 4G and the Nvidia-based Mining P106-6G. These are not consumer cards — the RX 470 has just one DVI port (it has holes for DP and HDMI, but no actual ports). Meanwhile, the 6GB GTX 1060 GPU is shown with this unintentionally amusing explanation:

AsusIO

Asus is claiming substantially higher mining performance, however, and to be honest I’d need to dig into the specifics of what drives modern cryptocurrency performance to render an opinion on how likely the company’s cryptocurrency SKUs are to deliver on their performance claims.

level-up-performance

As always, we recommend being cautious when investing in fads like cryptocurrency. There are people who made amounts of money in Bitcoin and Litecoin ranging from modest to massive. There are plenty of other customers who paid for ASIC solutions that never shipped (and multiple companies were later sued for fraud), or were never able to break even on total cost of hardware and electricity given the way prices were fluctuating at the time. I consider cryptocurrency mining somewhat similar to gambling, in that one should never wager more than you can comfortably afford to lose.

Asus has not yet announced availability or pricing on these cards. But it’ll be interesting to see how they’re positioned relative to standard consumer hardware. If this experiment works, we expect to see more GPU companies following with their own designs in fairly short order.

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