Friday, August 4th 2017

AMD RX Vega Mining Performance Reportedly Doubled With Driver Updates

Disclaimer: take this post with a bucket of salt. However, the information here, if true, could heavily impact AMD's RX Vega cards' stock at launch and in the subsequent days, so, we're sharing this so our readers can decide on whether they want to pull the trigger for a Vega card at launch, as soon as possible, or risk what would seem like the equivalent of a mining Black Friday crowd gobbling up AMD's RX Vega models' stock. Remember that AMD has already justified delays for increased stock so as to limit the impact of miners on the available supply.

The information has been put out by two different sources already. The first source we encountered (and which has been covered by some media outlets solo) has been one post from one of OC UK's staff, Gibbo, who in a forum post, said "Seems the hash rate on VEGA is 70-100 per card, which is insanely good. Trying to devise some kind of plan so gamers can get them at MSRP without the miners wiping all the stock out within 5 minutes of product going live."
The fact that a staffer from OC UK is actually looking for ways to prevent miners from wiping the stock speaks more to the credence of the information than the "70-100 hash rate" claim. Apparently, this information was conveyed to Gibbo from an AMD AIB partner, who remains unknown at time of writing. This information has already been sort of confirmed by a second source, coming out of Videocardz's Why Cry. In a post, the editor reported how he already had come in possession of similar information through his sources, who put the hash rate of RX Vega close to double that of the Frontier Edition's original hash rate, which was ~30 MH/s in Ethereum mining. This means the hash rate could be ~60 mark, which is still close to OC UK's Gibbo's reference to a "70-100" hash rate. This increase in hash rate was apparently indirectly enabled by updated driver features for the RX Vega cards. Apparently, these were included in the drivers to improve features and gaming performance - which also indirectly resulted in increased mining capabilities.

We had already covered in our Vega Architecture Technical Overview article that AMD's Vega NGCU computation capabilities were bolstered through added support for over 40 new ISA instructions, which result in increased IPC over Polaris - and which were also mentioned by VSG at the time as being "very relevant for GPU mining."
Adding to this story is the fact that recent optimizations from a Reddit user to a Monero mining program and an underclock to 1.3 GHz have brought the Frontier Edition's mining hashrates to around 1.16 kH/s - 34% faster than a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (around 0.76 kH/s according to Nicehash), and 43% faster than a single Radeon RX 580 8 GB. This means that the $999 Frontier Edition currently stands at double the mining performance of the GTX 1080 on Monero - and the gaming RX Vega, with its $499 price-tag, should follow suit. And these are optimizations achieved by a single user, for a cryptocurrency that is admittedly not as popular as Ethereum or others. But increasing levels of performance in some mining algorithms really does leave the door open for exploration of improved speeds on others, and you can rest assured that miners will, at the very least, attempt to achieve these optimizations in other cryptocurrencies.
All in all, if true, these reports lend credence to AMD's take on the RX Vega delays for stock build-up. And the situation seems to be less straightforward than one might hope when it comes to disabling these instructions, or only enabling them at a latter date, after gamers had already had some time to purchase their desired cards. Because these driver-level updates were apparently done with the intent to bolster gaming performance, I believe it's safe to assume AMD can't easily neuter the mining improvements without putting the increased gaming performance at risk as well. Let's see how this pans out, but consider yourselves at least warned - the RX Vega may see much reduced stock and increased pricing throughout if this scenario pans out. in the meantime, those Radeon Packs with both their shortcomings and opportunities are looking like an increasingly interesting way to get ahold of one of AMD's latest...
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