Palit preps Pascal mining GPUs - and is mining bad for performance?

Posted on Tuesday, Mar 02 2021 @ 10:11 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
It seems all I'm writing about these days is cryptocurrency mining, and how it affects the GPU market. Today's news concerns an EEC (Eurasian Economic Commission) filing from Palit. The video card maker has registered a couple of dozens of GPUs with the EEC, including twelve models based on the P106 GPU. This doesn't mean Palit will release that many new models -- some of these are regional variants, for example.

The comeback of Pascal

The cryptocurrency mining frenzy is leading to all sorts of crazy situations. We're seeing miners buying up RTX 30 series laptops in bulk just to mine Ethereum and now we're seeing the reintroduction of the P106 -- which is a three years old GPU. This Pascal-based GPU is made on a 16nm process and uses GDDR5 or GDDR5X memory, so perhaps it's easier to get chip supplies for these models than for new Ampere-based models that use 8nm chips and GDDR6.

There is a lot of demand from miners right now so manufacturers are doing everything they can do to get as many cards out of the door as possible. There's no knowing how long this will last, so being quick is paramount here. VideoCardz writes it's unclear which Pascal versions are brought back by Pascal. The EEC filing seems to imply the P106-090 variant, but that model has only 3GB GDDR5, which is not enough for Ethereum.

Some alternative crypto coins can still be mined using GPUs, but Ethereum has an ETH DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) file of 4.11GB, so only the NVIDIA P106-100 variant with 6GB GDDR5 would be good enough for this coin. The maximum ETH hash rate with the P106 is around 25MH/s.
It is unclear which exact model Palit is bringing back, as there were two P106 models. The P106-90 is a cut-down GP106 GPU with 640 CUDA cores and 3GB G5 memory, while the higher-end P106-100 had 1280 CUDA cores and 6GB G5 memory. The EEC filing appears to list ‘1069’ which implies P106-090, but this card can no longer be used in Ethereum mining due to limited VRAM, the current ETH DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) file is 4.11 GB, but there are still alternative coins that have smaller DAGs.
Also worth noting is that the filing once again includes a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti model with 12GB memory. According to some whispers, we may see the release of this card in April. GPU roadmaps change often though, so take it with a grain of salt.

Palit Pascal mining SKU

Can mining hurt video gaming performance?

Since the advent of GPU mining, gamers have wondered whether cryptocurrency mining is harmful to a video card. A video is circulating on YouTube that seems to answer this question. Testing Games checked out the performance of an 18 month-old MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio and concludes that after mining, the card is noticeably slower. So is the case settled? Not exactly. ExtremeTech analyzed the video and speculates the drop in performance is likely caused by other factors.
First, the authors don’t appear to have re-pasted or dusted the used GPU. Dust is an absolutely magnificent insulator and enough of it will easily destabilize a gaming rig. This alone could account for the higher temperatures and lower clocks on the used card, no explanation needed.
The fact that the card runs significantly hotter, uses somewhat less power, and hits lower maximum clockspeeds seems to suggest it's just natural aging of thermal paste and accumulation of dust. Furthermore, it's not clear if the same GPU got tested twice -- or whether two different versions of the card got tested. If it's the latter, there could be a difference in GPU or memory binning. It's also unknown whether both cards had the exact same video BIOS. Basically, there are too many unknowns to call this case settled.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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