GPU Makers Are Now Specifically Targeting Ethereum And Bitcoin Miners

A pair of ASUS cards with few or no display outputs and heavy-duty cooling may be just what the miners are after.

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Jun 28 2017, 1:30pm

Image: ASUS

Those who are into cryptocurrency mining—bitcoin and ethereum are the hot commodities right now—know that only a fool would mine with just the power of their CPU. If you really want to boost that hash rate you need a good graphics card. Or, a bunch of them.

But traditional graphics cards are not especially well-suited to the cryptocurrency mining gold rush. They're not made with the sort of reliable cooling and power regulators and so forth to run 24/7 at near peak capacity in a box with a bunch of other graphics cards. And gamers are frustrated by miners who buy up lots of stock, making the cards with the best price/performance ratio hard to find and inflating prices.

The solution may well be on the way, in the form of graphics cards made specifically for cryptocurrency miners. There are now two such cards listed on the website of PC component maker ASUS: the MINING GP106-6G and the MINING RX470-4G.

The latter card seems like a pretty basic Radeon RX 470 card. ASUS equips it with dual ball-bearing fans made to be dust resistant and run 24/7. Otherwise, it seems like any other RX 470 card. The product page lists a single DVI port for output, though the picture on the site shows a back panel that also includes DisplayPort and HDMI.

The GP106-6G carries specs identical to a standard non-overclocked GeForce GTX 1060, again with the fans made for operation in mining rigs, only it features no display outputs at all. When your graphics card is only used as a cryptocurrency processor, after all, you don't need to hook it up to a display.

The product page claims that the GP106-6G, "enhances the megahash rate by up to 36% compared cards in the same segment that are not tailored for mining." That's a difficult statement to qualify—what's the "segment" they're talking about? What cards are they comparing it to? It seems difficult to believe it is in any way faster than a regular GeForce GTX 1060 at mining, and if ASUS' own RX470-4G is just like a Radeon RX470 then it should be faster.

AMD's graphics cards have long been the preferred choice for cryptocurrency miners. When it comes to the particular operations used most often in mining, the architecture of AMD's graphics chips seem to hold a distinct advantage over Nvidia's. Each company's graphics chips have changed a lot over the years, and Nvidia's compute capabilities can sometimes equal or exceed AMD's in other areas, but when it comes to mining AMD holds the price/performance and power/performance crown.

Image: wccftech.com

We still don't know if these new mining-targeted cards, and perhaps others like them from other vendors, will ease supply constraints that have been frustrating PC gamers. We don't know their price yet, and in order for miners to gravitate toward mining-specific cards, they need to have a better cost/benefit ratio. Either they must be cheaper than regular gaming cards with the same hashing performance, or they must hash faster than similarly-priced gaming cards.

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