AMD Seems To Be Preparing New Blockchain GPU For Cryptomining

2020-10-22

Linux news outlet has spotted a couple of that allude to an unreleased AMD blockchain graphics card for cryptocurrency mining. The description refers to a "navi10 blockchain SKU," implying that the Navi 10 silicon is at the heart of this new graphics card.

The blockchain graphics card in question presently lacks one of and carries a device ID that corresponds to 0x731E. As Phoronix noted, the major difference between this mysterious blockchain graphics and your normal Navi 10 offering is that the Display Core Next (DCN) and Video Core Next (VCN) engines are disabled. The lack of support indicates that the graphics card will likely arrive without any display outputs.

The Navi 10 silicon is based on AMD's RDNA 1.0 architecture, and it's a product of TSMC's 7nm FinFET manufacturing process. Checking in with a die size of 251 mm², Navi 10 houses up to 10,300 million transistors. Overall, the Navi 10 die houses 40 Compute Units (CUs), totaling to 2,560 Stream Processors (SPs). 

AMD Navi 10 Graphics Cards

Graphics CardGPUStream ProcessorsBase / Game / Boost Clock (MHz)Memory CapacityMemory Speed (Gbps)Memory BusMemory Bandwidth (GBps)TDP (W)
Radeon RX 5700 XTNavi 10 XT2,5601,605 / 1,755 / 1,9058GB GDDR614256-bit448225
Radeon RX 5700Navi 10 XL2,3041,465 / 1,625 / 1,7258GB GDDR614256-bit448180
Radeon RX 5600 XTNavi 10 XLE2,3041,130 / 1,375 / 1,5606GB GDDR612192-bit288150
Radeon RX 5600Navi 10 XE2,0481,130 / 1,375 / 1,5606GB GDDR612192-bit288150

At present, AMD uses the Navi 10 silicon for four of its Radeon gaming graphics cards, including their corresponding Pro and mobile variants. The Navi 10 XT and Navi 10 XL power the Radeon , respectively. Meanwhile, the Navi 10 XLE gives life to the , while the Navi 10 XE resides in the Radeon RX 5600. It's uncertain if AMD's Navi 10 blockchain graphics card will take after one of its mainstream models, or appear as a completely different animal.

According to Phoronix, the timings of the patches probably means that this Navi 10 blockchain graphics card won't debut until early next year. AMD's idea seems sound because it would discourage cryptominers from buying out the chipmaker's mainstream graphics card. Not that it matters, given that Navi-powered parts are still widely available.

Alternatively, AMD could just be getting rid of leftover Navi silicon as the chipmaker will be announcing the new graphics cards next week that will leverage Navi 2x dies.

Navi might be more energy-efficient than Vega or Polaris, but we're unsure if the cryptomining performance is there. The latter are dead-cheap nowadays, so a Navi-based model might not be enough to win cryptominers over. Furthermore, cryptomining has shifted away from graphics cards, and the emergence of custom-tailored ASIC miners have practically replaced them. Nonetheless, it still depends on the type of cryptocurrency you're into since certain algorithms still heavily favor the graphics card.