Posts Tagged ‘Nvidia

Lately it has been quite hard to get access to or even buy higher-end GPUs used for mining, even at unreasonably high prices it is not always easy, but we finally managed to get our hands on a Nvidia P104-100 based GPU from ASUS to play a bit with it. The new P104-100 is certainly a bit different approach from Nvidia for a mining GPU when compared to the previous version P106-100 that wasn’t much different than a consumer GTX 1060. The new P106-100 is essentially the GPU found inside a GTX 1070, but with a different memory configuration, so it is not essentially a GTX 1070 rebrand with limited warranty and no video outputs. You get 4GB GDDR5X video memory that is apparently optimized for mining with a 256-bit memory bus, finally something done properly on a mining GPU, so you can get better performance in memory dependent algorithms. Of course Nvidia partners like ASUS get to play a bit with the boards and some times they make the rest of the things right, some times they don’t.

We are still left with the impressions that when it comes to mining GPUs manufacturers still want to cut on costs and they often do it the wrong way around by messing the things they should not. Typical for ASUS we see a warranty sticker on one of the main screws holding the GPU cooler, but be calm, the board is with just 3 months warranty, so after that you are free to remove it and clean the cooling solution, change the thermal grease or do whatever you want with it.

The ASUS Mining P104 4G uses a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector that should be more than enough for the default TDP of 180 Watts for the P104-100. The cooler seems pretty good at first sight and with the dual fans that seem similar to what ASUS uses on their STRIX series the operating temperatures should be fine for mining. Looking a bit closely however things start to get a bit disappointing as it seems that ASUS has decided not to properly cool the memory chips (there is no direct contact with the cooler). Not cooling the video memory properly is definitely a minus here as the chips get pretty hot at stock frequencies and they can be overclocked pretty good, but then get even hotter. As a result from this you might not be able to squeeze the maximum performance you could be able from the particular version of P104-100.

Looking at the backplane of the GPU we see that there are no video outputs available, but a closer inspection of the PCB actually shows two connectors present. Surprise, surprise… when you remove the backplane you see that the board actually has a single HDMI and a single DP video outputs onboard, they are just covered by the backplane. Well done ASUS, you could have just opened two holes on the backplane and have these usable anyway, but probably since the idea of the mining GPUs is for them to be used only for mining they decided to cover them.

Remember that we’ve mentioned that the cooling fans of the Mining P104 4G GPU look very much like the ones found on the ASUS STRIX series of GPUs for gamers, well they are the same inside as well. Meaning that the fans use bushings instead of ball bearings and that is a no go for a dedicated mining GPU in our opinion! Metal bushings are cheaper, but they do not handle dust and heat as good as ball bearings and in most mining scenarios their usable life is much shorter that what a good ball bearing fan is capable of providing. Guess manufacturers just don’t care what happens with the fans after the 3 months warranty you get is over and most likely the fans will not fail in just 3, but we’ve seen issues starting to appear with these ASUS fans in 4-6 months of use for mining.

The latest GPU-Z unfortunately does not properly recognize all of the specs of the P104-100 GPU, it confuses the specifications with the ones for a GTX 1080 Ti. The ASUS Mining P104 4G comes with a GPU that has 1920 CUDA Cores running at 1607 MHz base clock, it uses 4GB GDDR5X video memory running at 10010 MHz and has a default TDP of 180 W. One important thing to note here is that the P104-100 is running at x4 PCI-E 1.1, so usability for things other than mining may be limited in terms of performance. The key here is the video memory that is apparently optimized for mining and it has surprisingly good results when it comes to memory intensive algorithms such as Ethereum’s Ethash for example, but more on that in a bit.

Here is a quick look at what performance in terms of hashrate you can expect form the ASUS Mining P104 4G GPU at stock frequencies, the benchmark results are with the latest NiceHash Legacy miner covering most of the more popular algorithms at the moment. For GPU-intensive algorithms you can expect to get performance that is similar to that of a GTX 1070, the main advantage that the P104-100 has is in the Ethash algorithm. The default performance you can expect to get mining Ethereum or other Ethash-based coins is around 33 MHs at stock settings, but if you start playing with the clocks you can get up to about 40 MHs.

Going right for +800 on the video memory and voila – you get a little over 40 MHS on Ethereum using the Claymore ETH dual miner, but here comes the problem with the video memory getting hot. As already mentioned the memory chips do not have direct contact with the cooler, so they rely on cooling only from the air coming from the fans and they get pretty hot. So running at +800 MHz is a problem for longer time (they might go even higher stable with good cooling), so you have to dial back to about +650 MHz to have stability and you will get down to a little over 39 MHS which is still very good. Especially for mining Ethereum or anything else using Ethash you can lower the power limiter and even the GPU clock, so you can get down to about 135 W of power usage without loss in performance.

In the end we get mixed feelings from the ASUS Mining P104 4G GPU, it is performing well, but with some small improvements it could be a much more interesting product. We would like to see dual ball-bearing fans and a cooler that cools the memory chips as well in order to make the card more durable and reliable on the long term as mining is not for just 3 months. Performance wise the P104-100 does great only in Ethereum or other Ethash coins, especially when you overclock the video memory. The results in other more GPU intensive algorithms are not that interesting in particular as the GPU itself is the same as on GTX 1070 and the performance is very much the same. The other not so good thing right now is that there is limited availability even for the P104-100 mining GPUs and if you manage to find them somewhere their prices are also higher than usual, just like is the case with the regular GeForce gaming GPUs form Nvidia at the moment.

A couple of days ago Nvidia has announced their new Geforce GTX 1070 Ti series of video cards and has opened pre-orders with the shipping and official sales expected to start tomorrow in most regions around the world. Prior to the official release there were a lot of speculations about what the new GTX 1070 Ti will be offering and we already know that the new Ti model is actually not that much different. Nvidia probably did not want to endanger the sales of their GTX 1080 GPUs, so as one might expect the GTX 1070 Ti sits somewhere in between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 in terms of performance, though with overclock it will most likely be able to outperform the GTX 1080. There are some speculations that the new Ti will be overclocking pretty well and that is definitely good news for both gamers and miners. Let us take a quick look at the more important specs and how GTX 1070 Ti differs from the 1070 and 1080 GPUs from Nvidia (reference designs and clocks).

Looking at the specs comparison it seems that the new GTX 1070 Ti is almost the same as the GTX 1080 as far as GPU specs go (some extra clock should compensate for the less CUDA cores) with the biggest difference being the memory being used. The GTX 1080 uses the faster in terms of speed GDDR5X video memory and offers more bandwidth, but the memory timings are slower compared to the slower in terms of operating frequency GDDR5 used in the GTX 1070 Ti. While for gamers the memory latencies might not make that much of a difference for users and the faster frequency might be fine, for miners the memory timings are more important. So the GDDR5 memory used on the GTX 1070 Ti is good news for people mining memory intensive altcoins such as the ones using Ethash like Ethereum for example. Do note expect however to get much higher performance on these compared to the regular GTX 1070, in fact the new Ti should most likely get you a bit better performance in more GPU intensive algorithms due to the increased number of CUDA cores.

Of course we’ll need to do some testing when the new GPUs are finally out on the market and see how good their performance compared to the old GTX 1070 and the GTX 1080, but we already have a pretty good idea on what to expect. Do note that although Nvidia is using photos of a reference design GeForce GTX 1070 Ti with a Founders Edition cooler it seems that such a model is going to be only directly sold by Nvidia and not through partners, all other designs are non-reference ones with coolers already used for the GTX 1070 or 1080 models. As a result many people will not be ale to get their hands on the Founders Edition due to the fact that Nvidia does not have good distribution channels of their own and thus the company essentially ignores direct sales in many of the smaller markets around the world. Anyway, we already know that the new GTX 1070 Ti should be a great choice for multi-GPU mining rigs instead of the GTX 1070, although the deciding factor will most likely be the end user price of the new video cards… a price that is also expected to be somewhere in between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080.

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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