Cryptocurrency mining is a huge strain on the GPU economy, but you don’t really need me to tell you that. However, what if I told you that CPU mining is possible, and indeed profitable? AMD reckon you’d likely make your money back on their high-end Threadripper chips in less than a year with their mining potential.
Here are the best CPUs for gaming. Yes, just gaming.
We spoke with AMD’s technical marketing manager, Damien Triolet, who believes that massive potential for home mining rigs lies within their HEDT Threadripper CPUs. How does a CPU manage to keep up with a GPU on such intensively parallel tasks? It doesn’t. You just use a type of cryptocurrency that caters straight to your setup.
The CryptoNight algorithm is designed for use with regular ol’ CPUs. This algorithm relies on around 2MB of L3 cache required per mining thread in use, which rules out almost all ASIC mining machines so far in production due to profitability, and favours CPUs with a high L3 cache per core ratio - which, as AMD would like to point out, Threadripper is designed for.
“CPUs could be acceptable for mining if they could handle very few threads, very fast, and that’s exactly what Threadripper is able to do,” Triolet says. “The reason for that is that Threadripper comes with 32MB of L3 Cache, and it can keep the dataset in cache, which speeds up cryptomining by a lot.”
Utilising around 2MB per thread, a Threadripper 1950X (or 1920X for that matter) could run around 16 active mining threads, although one thread will likely be occupied by general system operation. Intel’s HEDT chips run with less L3 cache per core. The Core i9 7900X has 13.75MB of L3, which roughly equates to just under seven threads.
“With 32MB on Threadripper we can run 15 threads very fast, and for CryptoNight that could allow Threadripper to get almost the same ballpark as RX Vega. Vega can go higher, but then you have to tweak memory and stuff like that. But, if you’re not tweaking Vega, Threadripper can be within the same ballpark, and it will be much faster than a 1080 Ti for example in CryptoNight.”
One of the largest of these CPU-focused cryptocurrencies is currently Monero, which has seen a similar rise alongside Bitcoin’s recent boom - although it never reached Bitcoin's peak price, and has been dropping in value significantly this last month.
Triolet believes Threadripper is subsequently capable of accumulating enough virtual coins to deliver you around $90 a month through the NiceHash mining platform. This is at the current price, with electricity already accounted for - although this could vary considerably by region. For those of you that aren’t familiar, NiceHash is the platform that recently was hacked for $60 million in one of the largest crypto-heists ever. So, yeah, there’s that.
"What we want to do for the end user is that they consider mining on the side." Triolet says. "I mean not building a semi-professional mining rig but just building their usual high-end system with TR, one GPU, they can still make a nice profit on the side then, and almost pay for that platform over a year."
Using Triolet’s estimated earnings, a Threadripper 1920X chip would see a return beyond its own MSRP of around $760 in just under nine months. AMD see this venture as a potential way for gamers to also make a profit on their potentially powerful systems, which often lie dormant for considerable periods of time every day, and join in on the mining craze themselves.
If you can’t beat them, join them?