BitCoin: An Experiment in GPGPU
So, for the last week or so the internet has been abuzz with stories about “BitCoin”, the new all-digital currency that’s going to destabilize governments around the world and bring us to a new utopian society. Well, yeah it’s a lot of hype. But when I heard about the “mining” aspect of it, and how it’s almost entirely GPU based, I figured I would check it out.
From what I can tell, the “mining” part is really just a brute-force hash attack, looking for specific numbers. I ran some experiments with this once before as part of my Quadro5000 review using HashGPU. Using the OpenCL bitcoin miner, I figured I could some up with some nice results. I had a machine handy with two GeForce GTX285′s in it, and easily managed to eek out about 64Mh/s on each card, for a total around 128Mh/s. (Mh/s = Million Hashes per Second). I also happen to have the Quadro 5000 card around, based on the Fermi Architecture, so I thought I’ld throw it in as it’s not currently in the Wiki Hardware Results.
I was very disappointed to find that my Quadro5000 could only manage about 58-59Mh/s, a startling 10% less than the GTX285. This truly baffled me. The Quadro 5000, which handily beats AMD cards in most benchmarks, falls waaay behind the ATI offerings which easily rake in 100+Mh/s, some hitting 300Mh/s.
All in all, I ran with two GTX285′s for about 4 days, and mined all of 2 BitCoins. Presumably with a single AMD Radeon 6990, for $700 which claims to rake in over 650Mh/s , I could have make 5x that. It’s interesting to see that as popular as CUDA is, there are still several problems where AMD’s “stream” design beats NVidia’s hands-down.
And of course, this wouldn’t be a BitCoin article if I didn’t include “If you liked this article, feel free to send some BitCoins to 1Gahg3UcDDi96an43AUUSVE2jTJomj8AzZ“.
P.S. If anyone actually does send me any, shoot me an email with the amount for a Shout-Out here.
Update 7pm: Wow.. I just refreshed my wallet and thanks to the 3 people who actually sent me a total of 0.12 BTC, the equivalent of about $1 at current exchange rates.