The newly released generation of Nvidia graphics cards, the RTX 3000 series, is generating some buzz among miners as it is expected to be a vast improvement over the previous generations.
While the cards were initially speculated to be only a minor upgrade, new information seems to confirm that they could reach hash rates of around 100 Megahashes per second for Ethereum and Ethash mining.
This would be more than a two-fold improvement over many of the top-of-the-line cards offered on the market today by both Nvidia and AMD. According to mining calculator Whattomine, the AMD RX Vega series, 5700 series and Nvidia’s previous RTX 2000 series all range between 40 and 50 MH/s with light optimizations.
Preliminary tests circulating in the community firmly place the RTX 3080 and 3090 — the mid to high range cards — between 90 MH/s and 115 MH/s depending on the GPU and the optimizations.
Kristy-Leigh Minehan, former chief technology officer of Core Scientific and Genesis Mining, said that these results are to be expected given the cards’ memory bandwidth. According to her, the “rule of thumb” is that the Ethereum hash rate is 10% of the memory bandwidth in Gigabytes per second. Leaked specifications suggest that the RTX 3080 ranges between 700 GB/s and 900 GB/s, while the RTX 3090 can reach more than 1000 GB/s.
Minehan also highlighted that while flashing the bios is impossible on Nvidia, optimizing the memory timings for Ethereum can be done on-the-fly with software, eliminating AMD’s purported competitive advantage. In a conversation with Cointelegraph, she claimed that the RTX 3000 series will be “beyond better than AMD.”
It is worth making a direct comparison between the RTX 3080 and its closest competitor from AMD, the Radeon 5700 XT. The 3080 can be obtained for around $600 to $700, while the 5700 XT sells for about $400. The AMD hashes at around 51 MH/s, while the Nvidia card is expected to reach at least 90 MH/s.
However, the Nvidia is hungrier than the AMD, having a thermal design power — an industry measure for maximum energy consumption — of 320 Watts. The card from AMD clocks in at 225 Watts. Nevertheless, the higher hashing rate more than makes up for this difference in energy efficiency. It is also worth noting that these figures are unlikely to be entirely accurate for actual mining usage.
While many miners located in regions with expensive electricity will often look only at energy efficiency, professional miners will also heavily focus on the unit price. “All three are important,” Minehan said referring to hash rate, price and energy usage.
From that point of view, the 5700 XT’s price-to-hash rate ratio is almost equal to that of the Nvidia. This measure would also immediately disqualify the beefier RTX 3090, which comes at a $1,500 price tag for a modest 10-15% hashing improvement over its smaller brother.
In summary, Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 series appears to be quite competitive with AMD in the field of Ethereum mining, in contrast to previous generations. The RTX 2000 series and, to a lesser extent, the GTX 1000 series were generally more expensive than AMD while featuring equal or lower hash rates.