New AMD Vega GPUs yield disappointing mining performance out of the box

Reviews of AMD’s new Vega GPUs are starting to become available from reputable sources, and early mining test results don’t look great. Tom’s Hardware posted a first look of a Radeon RX 64 Vega (8GB) card yesterday, and only managed to hit 30.9 MH/sec on the latest version of Claymore’s miner. That’s comparable to performance of BIOS-optimized RX 4xx/5xx cards, and they draw considerably less power.

Keep in mind that these are out-of-the-box results, and no doubt higher speeds will be achieved once miners are able to experiment with clock speed and BIOS settings. But even if modders are eventually able to coax 40 MH/sec from Vega GPUs, they’ll probably never be a top-tier choice for miners, given their power consumption and high up-front cost ($599+ MSRP, although they’re currently selling for over $1,000 on Amazon).

Recent Ubuntu release causing issues with AMD 17.x drivers

Reader Zelda brought this advisory from AMD to my attention: it describes some serious issues with Ubuntu 16.04.3 and the latest (17.x) versions of AMD’s GPU drivers. Some of you have written in recently describing black screens after installing AMD’s drivers when following my Linux mining guide, and it looks like this is the culprit.

If you’re running into issues while trying to get your Linux-based rig up and running, make sure that you stick with 16.04.2 for now. I recommend Xubuntu 16.04.2 in my guide, and that’s safe to use—just skip the “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade” command at the end of step 3 to avoid updating to 16.04.3.

If you already have a Linux rig running AMD GPUs in operation, make sure that you hold off on OS/security updates until after this issue has been resolved! If you’ve already upgraded and are now experiencing problems, you can try downgrading your AMDGPU-PRO driver to version 16.x, although I haven’t been able to confirm that non-17.x drivers will definitely work on 16.04.3 without issues.

Hopefully AMD and Canonical can work out a fix quickly.

Bitcoin soars past $4000 to new all-time high

Bitcoin is currently trading at over $4,100 on Coinbase and most other major exchanges, after climbing nearly $500 over the past 24 hours. The current price represents a ~600% increase compared to just one year ago!

The relatively uneventful hard fork on August 1st, combined with the recent consensus to lock in SegWit (which paves the way for the Lightning Network) must have investors feeling bullish. Successful activation of SegWit (and later, Lightning) should remedy many of Bitcoin’s recent scalability issues, at least in the short term.

Coinbase reverses position; will support bitcoin cash after all

Coinbase just published an update that details an apparent change of heart on bitcoin cash: they’re working on supporting it by the start of 2018.

This means that if you have any bitcoin that you left in Coinbase’s hands during the hard fork a couple days ago, you’ll get your fair share of created bitcoin cash after all. Eventually, anyway—your bitcoin cash will be available to you whenever Coinbase officially launches support for the new coin in the coming months.

This is good news—Coinbase’s previous position no doubt left many of their customers feeling as though the popular exchange was openly stealing from them.

Reminder: get your bitcoin out of Coinbase before August 1st!

If you have any bitcoin stored at Coinbase or any other online exchange, it’s probably a good idea to move it into a private wallet that you control ASAP.

On August 1st, the Bitcoin network will likely fork into two separate blockchains—which will create a new currency in the process. Everyone that owns bitcoin will automatically receive an equivalent amount of the new currency, called “Bitcoin Cash” (BCC)—but this is only guaranteed to happen for you if you control the private key to the wallet address where your BTC is stored on August 1st. In other words, if you leave your BTC on an exchange during the fork, you’ll be at the mercy of the exchange as to whether or not they decide to give you the BCC that is created from the split.

Coinbase has already publicly stated that they’re taking the ethically questionable stance of not transferring the newly-created BCC to customers that trust them to hold their BTC during the fork. Other exchanges, such as Bittrex, have explicitly told their customers that they’ll be credited with whatever BCC their BTC generates. If you want the BCC that you’re entitled to, and have any doubt as to where your exchange stands, make sure that you transfer your BTC to your own private wallet at some point before Tuesday!

Given that the futures price for BCC is currently hovering around $400/coin, and many people expect it to end up somewhere between 10-20% of BTC’s value after the fork, there is potentially a lot of money at stake for people with sizable bitcoin holdings.

Alexander Vinnik arrested; possibly responsible for Mt. Gox hack

Reports are popping up that Alexander Vinnik, head of the popular cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, has been arrested. So far, the charges of bitcoin-related laundering are vague, but some believe that Vinnik/BTC-e is responsible for the hack and bitcoin theft that caused the demise of Mt. Gox in 2014.

BTC-e has been offline for “maintenance” since yesterday.

Amazon Prime Day Deals

It’s Amazon Prime Day, and that means some pretty nice deals for the next ~24 hours.

I’ll try to keep this post updated below with any mining-related deals that I spot. Note that you’ll need an Amazon Prime membership to access the deals, but you can get a free 30-day trial if you don’t already have one.

Deals:

TPLink HS100 Smart Plug: $19.99 (I wrote a review of the HS110 recently)

TP-Link’s HS110 Smart Plug: the mining rig accessory you didn’t know you needed

Last weekend, I took a few days to visit with family in another state. Shortly after arriving, I noticed that I had an alert from nanopool.org indicating that my mining rig was offline. I didn’t pay much attention to it, as I’ve received a few false positives before, and my rig hadn’t crashed in nearly 90 days.

When I had time later that evening, I checked on my miner and found that it indeed hadn’t submitted any work in hours. I grabbed my laptop, logged into my miner remotely via SSH, and found that one of the GPUs had crashed—causing Claymore to hang (my guess is that my switch to dual-mining the previous week was enough to introduce some instability). No problem, a quick “sudo reboot now” at the prompt should be enough to get it running again, and I could troubleshoot the cause when I returned home in a few days.

Except my miner never came back online. Since I’d be away for three additional days, the missed mining time would cost me about $80. I needed a reliable way to remotely power cycle my rig in the event that something like this happened again in the future.

Enter the TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug. This simple device is exactly what I was looking for: a remotely-accessible power switch for my rig that I can control with my phone from anywhere. Read on for my mini review!

Dual mining with Claymore

Mine SC, DCR, LBRY, or Pascal alongside ETH with Claymore's miner!If you’ve followed my Ethereum mining guide and successfully set up your own rig, you may have noticed that the Claymore mining software we’re using supports a dual-mining mode. The premise of dual-mining sounds great: mine another altcoin alongside ETH, ostensibly for free. Sounds like an easy way to increase profitability without any downside, so shouldn’t we all take advantage?

Read on for the pros and cons of dual-mining with Claymore, and instructions to guide you through enabling it.

Global shortage of AMD GPUs due to cryptocurrency mining

If you’re looking to get your hands on an AMD RX 570/580 GPU, you’re probably out of luck—at least for the foreseeable future. News outlets (even mainstream media!) are reporting that AMD GPUs are basically sold out globally due to tremendous demand from cryptocurrency miners. If you’re able to find an AMD RX 470/480/570/580 GPU at all these days, it’ll probably be on the secondary market—where you can expect to pay double or triple retail price.

I initially recommended AMD GPUs in my mining guide because they were much cheaper than nVidia alternatives. But given current market conditions, consider nVidia GPUs if you’re building a mining rig today. A GTX 1070 GPU will roughly match the ETH mining performance of a RX 570/580, and they’re still available to buy at most retailers. Just remember that if you opt for an nVidia GPU and plan to follow my mining guide, you’ll need to install nVidia GPU drivers instead of the AMD ones that I’ve linked!