A few days ago, AMD released the “Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition Beta for Blockchain Compute” driver. According to the release notes on the tech giant’s website, the software optimizes the performance for “Blockchain Compute Workloads,” thereby boosting the efficiency of cryptocurrency mining rigs that are using a GPU for mining (eg., Ethereum mining rigs).
Currently, the graphics driver can be downloaded from AMD’s official website. The beta software supports desktop GPUs from AMD Radeon HD 7700, and it can be installed on 64-bit Windows 7 (Service Pack 1 or higher required) and 64-bit Windows 10 systems. AMD highlighted in the release notes that the graphics driver is not intended to boost users’ gaming performance. The company added that since this is a beta software, it will not be “supported with further updates, upgrades or bug fixes.”
AMD’s new beta driver is designed to fix an issue related to the DAG (directed acyclic graph) size. As the number of blocks in the Ethereum blockchain increases (taking roughly 14 seconds to generate a block), so does Ethereum’s epoch (a 100-hour window). For every epoch, or 30,000 blocks, a DAG is generated. As the DAG size grows, the memory requirements for mining Ethereum increase. Since the memory footprint of the workload is increasing, it will, at a certain time, overflow from the graphics card’s memory and will be stored in the main system memory. The main system memory is much slower than accessing the GPU’s VRAM. If a mining rig is slower to access the memory, it will result in performance penalties concerning the miners’ hashrate.
AMD’s new beta driver appears to have fixed the DAG issue. According to TechPowerUp, there is only a minimal difference between mining different DAG sizes with the beta software. Compared to the old driver, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB (1546 MHz/945 MHz) experienced an 81 percent increase in the hashrate mining DAG 199.
The Reddit community has also confirmed that AMD’s new update is resulting in greater hashrates for their GPUs.
“My RX Vega went from 31 to 37Mh/s mining ETH only. Very nice improvement,” wrote a user named “Hot-Diggity-Daffodil.”
“Just got these new drivers installed on one of my 6 gpu rigs. MSI RX 580 8GBs confirmed back up to 29.5 from 27.5. Installing on other rigs now. Using BBT modded ROMs,” another user called “TheHansGruber” wrote in the /r/EtherMining subreddit.
AMD’s beta driver will boost the performance of Ethereum mining rigs for a while. However, if Ethereum evolves from proof of work to proof of stake, with a first step toward this model expected on November 1, GPUs will be less needed over time. At the instance of proof of stake, the mining is based on coin ownership rather than hash power.