AMD Appears to Be Prepping Its Own Lineup of Cryptocurrency Mining GPUs

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AMD could be tracing the steps of NVIDIA and preparing its own lineup of GPUs built specifically to satiate the demands of the booming cryptocurrency mining market. The possibility stems from Phoronix’s Michael Larabel, who published a story earlier this week detailing a series of AMDGPU kernel driver updates that included references to a potential Navi 12 model for miners. With this being a headless SKU that lacks Video Core Next (VCN) video support, enthusiasts are speculating that this is a card designed uniquely for blockchain purposes.

“‘Handle new NV12 SKU’ […] is in reference to Navi 12 coming to market and doesn’t support Video Core Next (VCN) video support as it’s going to be a headless SKU,” Larabel noted. “Details on this headless Navi 12 SKU remain light and haven’t heard anything about it recently from AMD.”

The possibility of AMD introducing a lineup of cryptocurrency mining GPUs was actually sparked in October last year by a series of patches that were discovered in an update to red team’s open-source Linux driver. As Larabel reported at the time, there were references to a “navi 10 blockchain SKU,” which was surprisingly specific as to what AMD might be planning.

“The Navi 10 part has a device ID of 0x731E,” Larabel explained. “From the AMDGPU Linux kernel driver perspective, the only difference from the existing Navi 10 GPU support is these patches disable the Display Core Next (DCN) and Video Core Next (VCN) support with this new SKU not having any display support. […] Ultimately this Navi 10 blockchain graphics card just appears to be a display-less graphics card that is presumably being targeted for cryptocurrency mining and the like.”

Tweets from KOMACHI_ENSAKA last year have suggested that AMD’s first cryptomining models will be the RX 5700 XTB, RX 5700B, and RX 5500 XTB. It isn’t clear whether red team will keep the Radeon naming for these, however, as the company might not want to associate mining with an established gaming brand.

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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