AMD’s new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPU is now officially out in the wild and we have some first impressions from it to share regarding crypto mining. There were various pieces of information and rumors regarding the mining performance of the new AMD VEGA, but since we got out hands on one we are going to share what are the actual out of the box results that we got from it. The new HBM2 memory used in the AMD VEGA GPUs is probably the most interesting part in the new product line, but unfortunately out of the box it does not do great in memory intensive algorithms. Of course we all know from AMD’s Polaris range that with some tweaks and modifications extra performance will most likely be available to miners, but that could take some time.

Probably the most important performance that people what to know about is the hashrate for mining Ethereum (ETH) and other crypto coins based on the Ethash algorithm. Unfortunately the out of the box performance from Radeon RX VEGA 64 using the latest Claymore Dual Eth miner that comes with official support for Vega is just around 31-32 MHS. We’ve seen claims of much higher performance being theoretically possible, but we are yet to confirm if it is and if these claims are actually real or just speculation. The not so great thing is that this hashrate is achieved with pretty high power consumption and the higher the temperature of the GPU goes, the lower the performance drops and it is really easy for the air cooler VEGA 64 to get hot.

Here is the situation with Zcash (ZEC) mining using the new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPU from AMD, just about 475-480 H/s. The not so great performance in these two more memory intensive algorithms, even with HBM2 memory is not what is the most concerning thing however. What we are more concerned with AMD’s new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPUs is the fact that they are power hungry GPUs and quickly get hot, so cooling them properly for 24/7 mining might be a bit of a challenge, at least for the air cooled model. The amount of power used does not justify the level of performance we get for mining out of the box at this point…

You can say that the new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPU out of the box at stock settings does manage to perform very similar in terms of performance to what a well overclocked Nvidia GTX 1070 can also deliver for ETH and ZEC mining. The AMD GPU however does it with significantly more power used when compared to what the Nvidia card requires to provide very similar performance for mining (double the power for the VEGA). As far as gaming goes, the Radeon RX VEGA 64 is apparently closer to GTX 1080 in terms of performance, but then again it still consumes more power than the Nvidia card.

What remains to be seen is what the initial availability is going to be and what the actual pricing of the new VEGA GPUs will be considering the fact that the demand from miners might not be that high, though you never know… with market prices of Polaris GPUs at the level they are available now the official recommended price of the VEGA 64 does seem unreasonably low, so expect higher initial prices for sure. On the other hand the Radeon RX VEGA 64 could also do better in more GPU intensive algorithms than it is doing for memory intensive ones. The option for dual mining with one memory-intensive and one GPU-intensive algorithm may also turn out to be pretty attractive alternative, even wiht the not so great performance in memory-intensive mining algorithms alone.

It seems that there is a new option available for miners that want to run more GPUs on a single mining rig. We got a tip that there is a new riser card available on AliExpress claiming to be capable of splitting a single x16 PCI-E slot to 8x USB 3.0 type of connectors for use with the respective x1 PCI-E extenders. In theory this should allow miners to get up to 8 GPUs running from a single x16 PCI-E slot, so practically any motherboard should become miner friendly solution. However there is an important thing that needs to be considered, this expansion board seems to require motherboards that do have the Above 4G Decoding (TLOUD) option available in the BIOS. The expansion card is available for a price of around $100-$120 USD from China, so no that cheap actually… it relies on a PLX PCI-E Switch, so no wonder it does not come very cheap.

We have not yet tested this solution, but it seems interesting and may offer an alternative solution for people to build mining rigs with more than the most common configuration of 6x GPUs. Now that we do have motherboards that are capable of 12 or even 13 GPUs out of the box however pricing is also going to be a very important factor and at the moment at this price from China this expansion board is actually not that attractive. Not to mention that there could still be some compatibility issues as it may not work on all motherboards as you might expect, especially on a bit older motherboards that do not come with Above 4G Decoding (TLOUD) option.

To check the PCI-E 16X to 8 Port USB 3.0 Expansion Card on AliExpress…

There is a new ccminer skunk-krnlx fork (source) available that comes with improved SkunkHash-Raptor performance. The miner is open source and provides the same performance for mining Signatum (SIGT) – the altcoin that has introduced this new crypto mining algorithm. This new free and open source miner does come with a performance very similar to that of the fastest closed source miners for Nvidia GPUs that are available for sale, so you might want to give it a try.

There are no official binary releases available, only the source code, but we have for download a 32-bit Windows binary compiled with VS2013 and CUDA 8.0 that you can try if you are having trouble compiling the code yourself. AMD miners might want to check out the Prospector miner for better performance on Polaris GPUs, though this miner is only available as binaries and is not open source, so proceed with caution.

To download and try the new ccminer skunk-krnlx miner for 32-bit Windows…

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