Ode To GPU Mining

March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is a brief letter written by myself on the Ethereum forum prior to its launch regarding the debated adoption by the developers of GPU mining for Ethereum.

I have grown to really love GPU mining. There is something about it. It is a royal pain in the ass really. They generate tons of heat, use a very measurable and large amount of electricity and take a fair amount of tweaking to get right. While your average Joe might not be able to setup GPU mining it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out and get going either. They are not plug and play like ASICs but they also have market value beyond their mining application. To me, a guitarists, GPU miners are the Tube Amps of the mining world. True, the ASICs are more efficient and cheaper but they don’t have that GPU mining feel. You have to really love GPU mining because, as I said, it can be a royal pain. True, there is a barrier to entry with GPUs. They can be expensive. But they are typically readily available and an individual can get into meaningful GPU mining today for under $200 on their home PC. Having the parts available in retail environments is in stark contrast to the black boxes which are the ASIC distributors.

CPU mining is very egalitarian as anyone can do it at the drop of the hat with their PC. This seems fine but the option of kicking up a notch to GPU typed power, especially for the enthusiast, is nice IMHO. If someone wants to invest more into contributing increased transaction processing power it is not as easily salable [with CPUs] as GPUs as CPUs require multiple independent systems to scale while many GPUs can be added to a single system allowing for easier management of fewer overall systems. As a Crypto Evangelist, a true believer if you will, I want the opportunity to provide more to the network than a new user that casually points their PC to a mining pool as a curiosity. While large investors see the profit and ease in ASICs far fewer build large scale GPU operations and those that do are typically not just casual investors looking to capitalize on a trend but enthusiasts willing to do a lot of work along with investing their capital.

GPUs also provide stable growth of hashing power. Even in the great depletion of GPUs we saw in all retail locations after litecoin jumped up to $50 there was only a doubling in the litecoin difficulty and that doubling occurred fairly slowly over about a month and a half period. When the Scrypt ASICs came online this month it was obvious virtually overnight. This stable growth and predictable access to hardware (compared to ASICs) encourages average folks to look into GPU mining as they can have a certain amount of predictability in the outcome if they are going to invest in a new GPU for that purpose or add wear and tear to their beloved gaming hardware.

The next coin to embrace GPU mining is going to do quite well I think. Since Ethereum is ready to launch in the next months the stars have aligned in that it is launching at a time coincident with the rolling out of the first wave of Scrypt ASICs. If it becomes GPU minable it will have an instant support network of well oiled GPU transaction processors eager to switch to a more profitable network. Since Ethereum is also a revolution to the 1.0 cryptos this instant acceptance by large amounts of processors should only serve to assist it in its adoption and notoriety in a bitcoin-centric environment. It was this phenomenon that gave legs to the non-revolutionary Litecoin.

In summation, again, GPU mining isn’t really that easy. Especially on larger scales. You really have to love it, and I do, but it isn’t too hard for your average gamer to get into. I’d say it is almost an artform that could be lost (see attached image for my work of GPU art). GPU mining has shown that it can create a robust transaction processing network with stable growth in a still very federated manner. I may be biased, but I think GPU mining with some ASIC resistant measures would be a fantastic platform for fast adoption of Ethereum and network stability.

Thanks for your considerations and either way thanks for the fantastic step forward in crypos that Ethereum represents.

Most Sincerely,
Rich Clarke