AMD might be working on RDNA cryptomining cards

Published: Mar 6th 2021, 08:20 GMT   Comments

AMD Navi 10 and Navi 12 without display connectors

AMD doing some mining?

AMD Navi 10 & 12, Source: AMD

The first indication that AMD might be developing a blockchain GPU appeared back in October 2020. A new Navi 10 part with a device ID of 731E has been added to the Linux kernel patches. It was clearly mentioned that the GPU would not support DCN (Display Core Next) and VCN (Video Core Next Next), essentially leaving the GPU without any output capability.

This display-less graphics card could either be used for compute acceleration working in clusters or in most cases cryptocurrency mining. According to a new patch from March 3rd, AMD is now proposing a Navi 12 headless GPU. This processor would also lack VCN, which indicates it would have a similar use as Navi 10 VCN-less processor. Both GPUs appear in a span of four months, but the latter is appearing right after NVIDIA made an announcement about their Crypto Mining Processors, now expected to launch later this month.

– “Handle new NV12 SKU” – This change is in reference to Navi 12 coming to market and doesn’t support Video Core Next (VCN) video support as it’s going to be a headless SKU. Details on this headless Navi 12 SKU remain light and haven’t heard anything about it recently from AMD. This may be similar to the previously reported on Navi 10 “Blockchain” graphics card. That “blockchain” SKU added to the Linux driver at the end of last year also disabled the DCN and VCN driver paths since it’s obviously headless. Given NVIDIA just announced their CMP mining cards perhaps AMD will soon be announcing these Navi 1x Bitcoin mining SKUs…

— Michael Larabel, Phoronix

Navi 12 is not available in any Radeon graphics card sold on a free DIY market. This GPU was designed for Apple Mac as Radeon Pro 5600M. It is the only Navi 1X GPU with HBM2 memory, which makes this even more interesting. There are no mining benchmarks for this particular GPU available, so it is hard to predict how efficient would it be in mining.

AMD Navi 12 SKU, Source: Freedesktop

In terms of specs, both Navi 10 and 12 offer 2560 Stream Processors (40 Compute Units). The Navi 10 is available with GDDR6 memory, whereas Navi 12 features 2 stacks of 4GB HBM2 memory. The GDDR6 memory has a bandwidth of 448 GB/s while HBM2 based Navi can offer 394 GB/s.

As noted by a known leaker KOMACHI, AMD has been working on RX 5700XTB, RX 5700B, and RX 5500XTB variants for Blockchain operations since at least November. Those could be the possible names of these new cards, but it is unclear if AMD wants its “Radeon” brand to be associated with mining.

Source: Freedesktop via Phoronix, Tom’s Hardware

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