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GPU Crypto Mining: March 2021
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
17118 posts
I'm going to open this post with a couple of assumptions - you know what cryptocurrency is and have a vague idea of what it means to mine the stuff. IE: as a miner you do lots and lots of math on your computer that supports the crypto network's operation, and are rewarded with some weird electronic money. For future reference, this is called Proof of Work - you prove you did some work for the currency and that's why you are rewarded. This is relevant to gamers because you very likely have the hardware to mine as part of a pool - I use ethermining.org - which is the best way to get started with only a CPU or two running.

You'll also probably know that the price of cryptocurrencies is wildly variable but generally follows a pattern of massive sudden booms that relax to a new, much higher than the previous 'normal' level. Ethereum (ETH) recently went to the f*****g moon:

https://i.imgur.com/jNABek8.png

Lots of reasons for this, mostly because of Bitcoin's recent "halving" event and following rising tide effects on the whole market. You don't need to know why though, just that ETH is worth a lot more now than it was a few months ago, and its almost certainly going to stay relatively high. This means that 'mining' ETH is suddenly much more profitable.

I stumbled upon this information about a week ago while researching crypto as a possible payment provider for my game project. As an avid gamer I have a few older (1-2000 series NVIDIA) video cards laying around being used by my kids to play Minecraft. Pumping in the numbers I realised that especially with our new 11kw solar power installation coming, I was sitting on non-trivial passive income. It took a little fussing to get everything settled to my satisfaction, but the results have been pretty good:

https://i.imgur.com/v071B2V.png

So at current market rate I'm looking at about $500AUD income per month, about 24% of that will be snipped in power costs until my solar comes online. There are tons of calculators available online. My kids run tuned ethash miners in the background of their PCs that mostly run Minecraft and Youtube, and they don't even notice they are grinding away. I'm currently mining with:

Radeon VII - 90 MH/s
GTX 2080ti - 60 MH/s
GTX 1080 - 22 MH/s
GTX 1060 - 20 MH/s

It varies a bit, and I was lucky that all the old cards I had were over 4Gb memory as you need ~4.1Gb VRAM at the moment to mine ETH. This DAG file size increases slowly over time but you don't really need to worry about that because ETH mining is not forever.

So what's the downside? There's always a downside!

📉 #1 Volatility The biggest risk is that the ETH price could crash at any time.

📜 #2 EIP 1559 is a proposal to reduce the fees earned by facilitating ETH transactions on the network. The intent is to stabilise these costs but the impact on mining will be less ETH per Hash, estimates vary wildly and we won't really know until its live in July.

💀 #3 Proof of Stake means that ETH mining is literally doomed. Sometime between EIP 1559 (and at the absolute outside maybe 2023) it will become impossible to mine Ethereum! The currency is moving to a consensus-based blockchain where holders of ETH commit their currency to comparatively low-power 'nodes' to manage the chain's transactions. Its worth noting that this was always in the ETH plan and will not change.

🤖 #4 More ETH ASIC devices are coming online. These are dedicated, purpose-made devices that Hash jobs very quickly and efficiently. Because the process is essentially a competition between miners, as more ASICs come online the difficulty will rise and GPU miners will see lower rewards. Again, with free power and a null investment in hardware this doesn't worry me a lot. The sheer waste (economic and environmental) of producing expensive electronic devices that can literally only work for a year or two is disgusting to me though. When ETH mining closes these $10-30k things become bricks with no purpose whatsoever.

My thoughts on these risks, lensed for my situation:

📉 #1 is just part of playing with crypto, period. I'm not even sure if I will HODL anyway and may just cash out to fiat regularly for coke and hooker money.

📜 #2 although most miners and mining pools believe it will be negative overrall for them, many analysts actually predict that EIP1559 will have deflationary effects on ETH, upping the market price and may offset the loss of fees. Also given that these video cards owe me nothing and my power is moving to a relatively large home solar array this is unlikely to worry me much, I'll just make less c&h coin.

💀 #3 is potentially the end of profitable GPU crypto mining. ASICs crowded out mining Bitcoin, and ETH mining has a looming end date. Personally I think that Ravencoin (RVN) and a basket of other ASIC-resistant alt coins will buffer this to some extent. They are profitable to mine now, just nowhere near ETH; keeping in mind the competitive nature of the game it is probably unprofitable if all the GPU hash power moved there right now, depending on how much of ETHs current hash rate is driven by ASICs that cannot move. RVN also has a very nicely timed halving event coming up that may deflate the currency.

🤖 #4 is only going to affect competition (difficulty) in the network until Proof of Stake. Like EIP 1559, ASICs coming online have the potential to lower rewards. Coins likely to succeed ETH like RVN are being built to be more ASIC resistant.

TLDR because I know you guys hate lots of words:

Its a good time to dabble in GPU mining if you have the hardware laying around, and especially if you have solar power being pushed into the grid for s***** tariffs while you are at work.
Its a terrible time to buy GPU hardware in general and given EIP 1559 and the ETH sunset clause you'd be mad to buy even second hand GPUs to mine at the moment. Its also worth noting that 3000 series NVIDIA cards are being crippled for ETH mining.
03:30pm 07/03/21 Permalink
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03:30pm 07/03/21 Permalink
Spook
Brisbane, Queensland
41555 posts
im impressed that a little guy can make any money when they are so many mining farms out there
04:50pm 07/03/21 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
17119 posts
Yeh that's why pools are good value. You basically attach your hash rate to a group effort and become part of a massive decentralised farm.

The pool takes a small cut and you need to mine at least 0.05 eth to get a weekly payout but overall I've been pretty happy so far.

I was also pretty happy owning a radeon vii, it's a ridiculously good mining card. I bought it for a purpose it failed at and only kept it for the kids and to be able to test amd gpu side for my game, glad I did lol
05:48pm 07/03/21 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
17120 posts
Aaaannnnd I just got paid out from ethermine, for the first time in my life I have me some crypto :)

https://i.imgur.com/huMGFb2.png

$120 for my first week (a few several hour downtime periods and lots of sub-optimal hashes) isn't bad :D :D :D

Edit: anyone with leftover ETH they dont need feel free to send me some to 0xE18489F6bC0A427fA184b9C20dea7CFcF62e498F ;)
10:39pm 07/03/21 Permalink
Vash
6378 posts
solid post. Is there any other cryptos, like Monero that would be worth mining? I have two PCs with a 2080ti and a 980ti, a nice solar power system so i might get into this
07:55am 08/03/21 Permalink
trog
Other International
40129 posts
What is your energy/electric spend? All these proof-of-work things are ultimately just a function of how much energy you can spend. If you have good solar (and don't need it for aircon up in FNQ!!) then it's probably great but I find it hard to believe most people are going to make enough money to be worth it if they're grid connected.

edit: also, great write-up, super interesting.
11:57am 08/03/21 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
17122 posts
Vash and trog-

I used https://whattomine.com/coins as my calculator and it came out pretty much on the money, pun intended. It also ranks coin mining returns compared to ETH.

You plug in your kwh price (after converting to USD, just divide the rate by 0.77) and select the cards you plan to mine with. This then calculates the expected hash rate and shows your estimated profits including power costs. You need to add about 100W per machine as well (or better yet get a power meter and just observe the mining unit's total power usage). Its also a good idea to under-clock your GPU so that it uses less power per unit of work.

https://i.imgur.com/wXqwZ9K.png

My 2080ti here is working very hard

https://i.imgur.com/c8fFD4h.png

But only sitting on 65C and about half its rated TDP after I tuned it in Afterburner. This saves costs and is important! Understanding mining as I do now I would much prefer a used mining card that was tuned for a cool 24/7 burn than one overclocked to the heavens as a space heater just to squeeze out an extra 5 fps for pwning nubs. You can replace fans but cooked chips stay cooked.

You're right about the basic mining formula trog, and as of now its profitable even on expensive Aussie grid power ... but only because the price of ETH went to the moon last quarter while power costs obviously didn't bump 5-10x. There were some follow-on gains in other altcoins like Monero but as the calculator shows its really all about ETH at the moment. Mining GPU coins other than ETH is about picking the next superstar crypto, so you may as well mine ETH and just buy them.

Before that it was really a break even situation that relied on the opportunity for capital gains on mined coins. There's some good videos out there of guys setting up big GPU farms and ekeing out small profits after buying 10s of cards and setting up dedicated open air rigs with 6 cards per motherboard. One guy tried to set up a solar farm and blew 20 grand USD because the HoA got all up his his grill about it. Ouch.

I have horrendous power costs here in FNQ living with a medical condition that requires cooling. This is why we're getting solar - 11kw should be enough to smash the bill into the ground.
12:37pm 08/03/21 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
17125 posts
2 weeks into this experiment:

https://i.imgur.com/8oqPRKE.png
02:53am 15/03/21 Permalink
Raven
Melbourne, Victoria
9671 posts
I only started mining eth a few days ago - got solar enabled just before I went away, so between the hours of about 7am and 7pm currently, mining costs me nothing. However outside those hours, my household idle power usage goes up from about 280W to 560W.

Using a 3070 on t-rex I'm averaging around 50MH/s. I have a spare 1070 which I'm thinking of putting in my Linux dev server to run all the time, in theory that should yield 25-30MH/s.

So via ethermine from ~2 days wrk I've mined myself a grand total of... 0.00431 ETH with 50 shares.

Hm. This could take a while.

But yeah, I'm considering whether to just run it while solar is generating.
07:35pm 18/03/21 Permalink
fpot
Gold Coast, Queensland
27374 posts
I appreciate the guys in this thread making heavy use of solar to get their crypto monies, but how is cryptocurrency on a more macro scale not a horrible force for bad due to less responsible people using fossil fuel produced energy to mine megawatts worth?
08:19pm 19/03/21 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
17126 posts
I appreciate the guys in this thread making heavy use of solar to get their crypto monies, but how is cryptocurrency on a more macro scale not a horrible force for bad due to less responsible people using fossil fuel produced energy to mine megawatts worth?

is it less 'good' for people to use fossil fuel to mine digital money than it is to .... I don't know, almost any other human endeavour aside from (I guess) primary produce?

Does the Marketing Manager at a Cruise Company generate any net ecological benefit per mWh for her server, smartpphone and PC time? Why is this OK compared to mining crypto. and why is crypromining held to this standard compared to other industry?
03:28am 20/03/21 Permalink
taggs
6616 posts
There's an argument I read that if blockchain actually became mainstream it would use exponentially less energy than the status quo banking system. Dunno if that's true or not.

Either way how good get that e-paper, Hoggy.
11:06am 20/03/21 Permalink
fpot
Gold Coast, Queensland
27375 posts
I guess my main concern is state-based actors unburdened by the retail cost of electricity using their own fossil fuel powered grids to mine mass amounts of currency. I understand this is already going on in China.

Anyway don't mean to be a negative nancy about it. Just can't shake the notion that raw power consumption equaling cash monies couldn't really have come around at a worse possible time.
03:35pm 20/03/21 Permalink
trog
Other International
40132 posts
There's an argument I read that if blockchain actually became mainstream it would use exponentially less energy than the status quo banking system. Dunno if that's true or not.
it is not
Does the Marketing Manager at a Cruise Company generate any net ecological benefit per mWh for her server, smartpphone and PC time? Why is this OK compared to mining crypto. and why is crypromining held to this standard compared to other industry?
I would argue that it's much worse for several reasons:

- Bitcoin (and other PoW schemes) are, basically, just proxies trending to the cost of energy production. If you consume $100 worth of coal-fired electricity to make 10c profit, it seems like a no brainer, but it's just taking advantage of the massive, massive externalities that are present in our energy generation grid. These are changing as renewables f*** up coal and other s***** energy sources and there is more pressure to properly cost those externalities, but it's still years away.

- comparing to the Marketing Manager role, the question becomes how much of their energy consumption is being frittered away uselessly for the sake of just creating a bunch of random numbers, versus doing something actually "productive".

- it is hard to come up with something that has less practical utility than the average cryptocurrency token outside of a totally narrow use case. I might not mind this if people used Bitcoin to buy things, but that is not what it's for - it's for holding, offloading to the next person for a profit, and ponzi schemes

- there is an argument that cryptocurrencies are potentially a giant house of cards: a newly discovered weakness in any of the algorithms could mean it is absolutely worthless overnight. So every single watt of energy used to farm them would be totally wasted as the value of it could plummet to zero. I think this is fairly low risk but people thought that about SHA-1 for years, and as the value of these things go up, so will the academic and adversarial research into the underlying crypto.

- at the end of the day I believe solar/renewables will win out for the participants in the cryptowars because they are cheaper - but at the moment there are too many people that are basically stealing energy to farm (e.g. those people exploiting the loophole about mosques in Iran not paying for electricity), the people that are doing it on the behalf of nation states to f*** with everyone (e.g., North Korea), and the people that don't give a s*** about their carbon footprint to make a few bucks (pretty much everyone else)

In other news Chia went mainnet a couple days; it is proof-of-stake (so less energy consuming, but make sure you stock up on hard drives) and is by Bram Cohen (the guy who created BitTorrent). I am not interested in cryptocurrencies but am thinking about diving into this to help drive adoption because I want to see more people get off PoW and onto PoS.

edit to stress if you are farming on solar or mostly renewable sources, f*****g have at it and I wish you the best of luck with it. just be ready to bounce out of the market when it implodes again :)
10:52am 21/03/21 Permalink
Hogfather
Cairns, Queensland
17127 posts
IMNSHO grid power is fine to use, just make sure you cash out your costs at minimum because the market is high right now, HODLing mined ether is quite the gamble, EIPs and s*** flying everywhere atm. My solar is not in yet and I am burning coal for e-currency.

(•_•)
( •_•)>⌐■-■
(⌐■_■)

If there is (and lets be clear, there is!) an external cost to the grid's power use then the Government should tax it properly so that the externality is captured! I swear to spag bol we had a public policy around this that I voted for recently, more than once.

Individuals with a finger on the pulse should not be expected to behave irrationally when presented with a likely short-lived financially rewarding opportunity.
12:12am 22/03/21 Permalink
trog
Other International
40133 posts
Yup, until the government decides to regulate energy in a way that corrects externalities we're gonna be in this mess. But we're in a bind because citizens in Australia are not prioritising this effectively when voting, at least for the last few years. After a few more decades of floods and fires maybe we'll get on it!

in the meantime install Chia and tell me what you think. I tried it on my laptop but was reluctant to run it as I don't want to wear the SSD in there. Going to try it on my desktop with some old drives and see how it goes.
12:29pm 22/03/21 Permalink
Raven
Melbourne, Victoria
9672 posts
- it is hard to come up with something that has less practical utility than the average cryptocurrency token outside of a totally narrow use case. I might not mind this if people used Bitcoin to buy things, but that is not what it's for - it's for holding, offloading to the next person for a profit, and ponzi schemes


Yeah, crypto in general I just still can't get my head around why it has 'value' - it's a made up concept that has no practical use, though the same can also be said for money in the form of notes and coins. Even when using gold as currency, while it might have some niche uses due to it's electrical conductivity and radiation prevention, to most average Joes it's about as useless as lead, save for the fact that there are other people out there who will pay you for it.

Right now, crypto is pretty much like the world of high-value art trade - people move around these pieces for $10m, $50m, $200m, and it's "because it's rare"/"because I like it", but we all know it's really just this black-market way of moving hundreds of millions in currency while circumventing tax law or a paper trail of accounting - it's just another dollar bill with a really large number printed on it. We all know it's not being used for anything legitemate and probably even legal - but the owners/traders can certainly claim it's legit.

Eth/Bitcoin right now is a bit like that. And I have no idea why I want/need it, and it has no practical use to me. But I know people will give me money for it, so I'll mine/collect it.

In other news Chia went mainnet a couple days; it is proof-of-stake (so less energy consuming, but make sure you stock up on hard drives) and is by Bram Cohen (the guy who created BitTorrent). I am not interested in cryptocurrencies but am thinking about diving into this to help drive adoption because I want to see more people get off PoW and onto PoS.

So how much disk spare per unit would you need to hold one? I can't seem to find a clear answer to this from searching the web.

last edited by Raven at 12:57:54 22/Mar/21
12:56pm 22/03/21 Permalink
trog
Other International
40143 posts
the trials and tribulations of off-grid miners in the northern hemisphere
10:56am 15/04/21 Permalink
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10:56am 15/04/21 Permalink
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