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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.

If you remember last month we have warned that a possible Ethereum Hashrate Drop for Radeon RX400/RX500 GPUs is Incoming. The slow decrease of mining hashrate for Ethereum (ETH) on AMD Polaris-based GPUs was a bit puzzling as it was actually not related to the video memory, so 4GB and 8GB models were affected. Do note that at some point though cards with 4GB video memory might still start dropping in terms of mining performance anyway as the DAG size starts getting close to the amount of video memory available.

It turns out that AMD may actually be working on a driver fix to resolve the problem according to information published by Claymore on the Bitcointalk forum. Apparently the upcoming AMD Vega was also affected by the same problem, though it has been already resolved with driver fix and in two weeks or so a fix for Polaris may be release via a driver update as well. Hopefully a driver update that will not be WHQL and allow the use on AMD GPUs with modified video BIOSes as most AMD Polaris-based Ethereum GPU mining rigs are using modified memory straps for better performance.

On a side note, something regarding AMD’s new Vega GPUs for mining Ethereum from Claymore, in case you have missed it:

“Vega is … hot. In stock it takes about 400-450W in dual, 300-350W in ETH-only mode at about 33MH/s. And it’s throttling like hell. It’s very good in dual mining mode, but it’s too hot.”

So most likely the new AMD Vega GPUs will not turn out to be a great choice for mining, though who knows… people are using GTX 1080 Ti’s at 250W TDP or even more with some OC for mining and are happy with the results. Even though it might not be great for mining Ethereum, the new AMD Vega, just like with GTX 1080 Ti, might still end up a good solution for Equihash or any other popular altcoin algorithm for example.

With the switch from the RX 400 to the new RX 500 series (even if there is not much difference in hardware), AMD started having issues with availability. Older GPUs have been pretty much sold out where there were some left and the newer 570/580 models are pretty much out of stock everywhere. If there are some units left they are with an inflated price tag, because the people selling them want to make some extra bucks from the lack of availability and high demand. It is not known how long this lack of video cards will continue, but things were slowly progressing towards this negative outcome the whole month.

We are pretty sure that one of the reasons is mining and the recent peak of the price and profitability of Ethereum that inevitably leads to more and more new miners and mining rigs getting built. It seems however that AMD was really not ready for an increased demand after the release of the RX 500 series, even though RX 400 GPUs were already selling a lot. It may take a couple of weeks for things to get back to normal, unless the craze continues and unless AMD is actually having trouble making enough GPUs at the moment to cover the demand. Maybe the fact that the company is preparing for the release of their newer higher-end Vega solutions has something to do with the problem as well.

Miners are already looking at the alternatives of using Nvidia GPUs that are available plenty on the market, because they are not as good deal for Ethereum mining like the AMD cards in terms of price/performance. If you however take out the Ethash algorithm (Dagger-Hashimoto) out of the equation Nvidia’s Pascal GPUs are actually pretty good in terms of performance/power usage ratio… just not as good in memory intensive algorithms where GPU power is not required as much. Mining aside, gamers already have no other choice but to go for Nvidia if they are currently in the market for a new video card with AMD GPUs being out of stock.

The people that were mining a couple of years back during the Litecoin craze will most likely remember a similar situation where things got out of control for a while with the exchange rate of LTC exploding. This was only temporary as everyone was rushing to get into mining the top altcoin back then and then the price went down and things started to get back to normal. There are no guarantees that the same situation will happen again though, but don’t forget that we may be heading for a POW to POS switch for Ethereum by the end of the year…


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