What is a Bitcoin?
This article looking at Bitcoins and the performance of various GPUs with mining them was really a big team effort at PC Perspective. Props goes out to Tim Verry for doing the research on the process of mining and helping to explain what Bitcoins are all about. Ken Addison did a great job doing through an alottment of graphics cards running our GUIMiner and getting the data you will see presented later. Scott Michaud helped with some graphics and imagery and I'm the monkey that just puts it all together at the end.
** Update 7/13/11 ** We recently wrote another piece on the cost of the power to run our Bitcoin mining operations used in this performance article. Based on the individual prices of electric in all 50 states of the US, we found that the cost of the power to run some cards exceeded the value of the Bitcoin currency based on today's exchange rates. I would highly recommend you check out that story as well after giving this performance-based article a thorough reading. ** End Update **
A new virtual currency called Bitcoin has been receiving a great deal of news fanfare, criticism and user adoption. The so called cryptographic currency uses strong encryption methods to eliminate the need for trust when buying and selling goods over the Internet in addition to a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server that maintains a public record of every transaction to prevent double spending of the electronic currency. The aspect of Bitcoin that has caused the most criticism and recent large rise in growth lies in is its inherent ability to anonymize the real life identities of users (though the transactions themselves are public) and the ability to make money by supporting the Bitcoin network in verifying pending transactions through a process called “mining” respectively. Privacy, security, cutting out the middle man and making it easy for users to do small casual transactions without fees as well as the ability to be rewarded for helping to secure the network by mining are all selling points (pun intended) of the currency.
When dealing with a more traditional and physical local currency, there is a need to for both parties to trust the currency but not much need to trust each other as handing over cash is fairly straightforward. One does not need to trust the other person as much as if it were a check which could bounce. Once it has changed hands, the buyer can not go and spend that money elsewhere as it is physically gone. Transactions over the Internet; however, greatly reduce the convenience of that local currency, and due to the series of tubes’ inability to carry cash through the pipes, services like Paypal as well as credit cards and checks are likely to be used in its place. While these replacements are convenient, they also are much riskier than cash as fraudulent charge-backs and disputes are likely to occur, leaving the seller in a bad position. Due to this risk, sellers have to factor a certain percentage of expected fraud into their prices in addition to collecting as much personally identifiable information as possible. Bitcoin seeks to remedy these risks by bringing the convenience of a local currency to the virtual plane with irreversible transactions, a public record of all transactions, and the ability to trust strong cryptography instead of the need for trusting people.
There are a number of security measures inherent in the Bitcoin protocol that assist with these security goals. Foremost, bitcoin uses strong public and private key cryptography to secure coins to a user. Money is handled by a bitcoin wallet, which is a program such as the official bitcoin client that creates public/private key pairs that allow you to send and receive money. You are further able to generate new receiving addresses whenever you want within the client. The wallet.dat file is the record of all your key pairs and thus your bitcoins and contains 100 address/key pairs (though you are able to generate new ones beyond that). Then, to send money one only needs to sign the bitcoin with their private key and send it to the recipient’s public key. This creates a chain of transactions that are secured by these public and private key pairs from person to person. Unfortunately this cryptography alone is not able to prevent double spending, meaning that Person A could sign the bitcoin with his private key to Person B, but also could do the same to Person C and so on. This issue is where the peer-to-peer and distributed computing aspect of the bitcoin protocol come into play. By using a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server, the bitcoin protocol creates a public record of every transaction that prevents double spending of bitcoins. Once the bitcoin has been signed to a public key (receiving address) with the user’s private key, and the network confirms this transaction the bitcoins can no longer be spent by Person A as the network has confirmed that the coin belongs to Person B now, and they are the only ones that can spend it using their private key.
Keep reading our article that details the theories behind Bitcoins as well as the performance of modern GPUs in mining them!
Subject: Mobile | July 11, 2011 - 11:49 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: mobile radeon, hd 6990m, amd radeon, amd
Few competitors love to one-up each other more than AMD and NVIDIA, and in that spirit the red team has today announced the release of its new Radeon HD 6990M just two weeks after NVIDIA claimed the limelight with its GTX 570M and 580M.
No, this isn’t a dual-GPU solution like the desktop version. Despite the name, the HD 6990M is not based off the Cayman architecture used in the HD 6990 but instead on Barts XT. According to AMD, the decision to use Barts XT rather than Cayman was based on power efficiency. Cramming Cayman into a notebook chassis, even one with an 18” display, wasn’t a viable option. Still, AMD claims that this new mobile GPU will be the world’s quickest, beating even NVIDIA’s new GTX 580M.
The HD 6990M will be shipping with impressive specifications including a whopping 1120 Stream Processors with a clock speed of 715 MHz, bringing the compute power to 1.6 TFlops. This is paired to 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 900 MHz, making for memory bandwidth of over 115 GB/sec.
Data supplied by AMD.
UPDATE (7/12/11 @ 10:00am): AMD contacted us to let me know the benchmark results we posted with this news release needed to be changed. The NEW results from the presentation show the difference between the Radeon HD 6970M and the Radeon HD 6990M to be much less AND the difference between the HD 6990 and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580M to be MUCH smaller. I have asked AMD for an explanation here and we'll see what we get later today.
The company’s press material shows the HD 6990M defeating the already available HD 6970M by approximately 25% in a number of games. If the part performs as promised, it should indeed be a difficult for NVIDIA to defeat – but we’ll have to wait for a review before making a judgment.
Data supplied by AMD.
Besides its blazing fast performance, the new GPU will offer the typical suite of AMD features including full support for DirectX 11, Eyefinity, Crossfire, HD3D, and driver-based power management features like PowerExpress and Vari-Bright.
Several laptops have been announced as available with the including the Clevo P170HM, P150HM and X7200, the Alienware M18x, and unspecified laptops from Eurocom. The HD 6990M should be available for order on the M18x as of today.
Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2011 - 12:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, amd, 28nm, kepler, maxwell
TSMC's 28nm wafer yields are having a negative effect on NVIDIA's scheduled release of their next generation of GPUs, no matter what the PR coming out of NVIDIA might suggest. That news is coming from graphics card manufacturers who were hoping to release cards but have since seen NVIDIA's scheduled releases delayed by a year. While it may be true that TSMC is partly to blame for the delay there is also talk about the chips performance being lower than was expected and is needed to challenge AMD. The news for NVIDIA gets even worse as DigiTimes confirms that AMD is still on schedule with it's 28nm chips. This may seem like a bit of deja vu, as we saw similar production problems from TSMC's initial 40nm chips; though that effected both major GPU makers more or less equally.
"Despite Nvidia CEO Huang Jen-hsun previously saying that the company is set to announce its new 28nm GPU architecture at the end of 2011 and 22/20nm in 2013, sources from graphics card makers have pointed out that Nvidia has already adjusted its roadmap and delayed 28nm Kepler and 22/20nm Maxwell to 2012 and 2014.
The sources believe that the delay is due to unsatisfactory yield rates of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm process as well as lower-than-expected performance of Kepler.
TSMC originally expected its 28nm capacity at Fab15 to be available in the fourth quarter of 2011 and was set to start pilot production for its 20nm process technology in the third quarter of 2012.
However, TSMC's other major client Qualcomm, currently, still has not yet adjusted its 28nm process schedule and is set to launch three new products, 8960. 8270 and 8260A using dual-core Krait architecture in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Meanwhile, AMD will follow its original schedule and enter the 28nm era in the first half of 2012. The company's next-generation graphics chips Southern Island as well as Krishna and Wichita processors, which will replace the existing Ontraio and Zacate processors, and will all adopt a 28nm process from TSMC."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- IA releases a dual-core 1.6GHz EPIA board @ The Inquirer
- Ubuntu ushers me out of the Windows XP era @ The Tech Report
- Your Friday must-see video: 14 minute Bioshock Infinite demo @ Ars Technica
- Last flight of the Space Shuttle: a 30-year retrospective @ Ars Technica
- Google: Go public on Profiles or we'll delete you @ The Register
- AMD's Brazos E-450 detailed @ Fudzilla
- Only jailbroken iPhones, iPads can be safe from latest vuln @ The Register
- TRENDnet 450Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter @ Maximum CPU
- ASUS USB-N13 802.11n Network Adapter Review @ ThinkComputers
- The Summer of Honeycomb, Part 1: Win an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer @ AnandTech
- Modders-Inc Junes's FRotM Winner - The Ultimate Computer Desk
PC Perspective Podcast #161 - AMD Llano Desktop review, the Samsung Droid Charge, RevoDrive 3 X2 and more!
Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2011 - 04:25 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, llano, Intel, APU, amd, a8-3850
PC Perspective Podcast #161 - 7/07/2011
This week we talk about our AMD Llano Desktop review, the Samsung Droid Charge, RevoDrive 3 X2 and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 0:01:03 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:01:45 AMD A8-3850 Llano Desktop Processor Review - Can AMD compete with Sandy Bridge?
- 0:25:15 Samsung Droid Charge Review: The Droid Brand Goes 4G
- 0:26:20 This Podcast is brought to you by
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:27:15 RevoDrive 3 article comments
- 0:35:25 VIA Technologies To Sell Of Its Stake in S3 Graphics
- 0:38:15 Meet Hondo, AMD's soon to arrive 2W TDP Brazos chip for tablets ... and Apache servers?
- 0:45:50 Just Delivered: ASUS ROG MATRIX GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB Graphics Card
- 0:50:20 Video Perspective: Corsair Special Edition White Graphite Series 600T Case
- 0:52:45 Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Overclocking and Gaming Performance
- 0:59:25 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
- 1:01:24 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Ryan: AMD A-series APU system ~ $430
- Jeremy: Kogan offers free hdmi cable to cut the UK cable con
- Josh: Cheap!
- Allyn: http://www.jailbreakme.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 1:10:20 Closing
Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2011 - 12:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ps4, xbox, Nintendo, consoles, amd, E3, cell processor
[H]ard|OCP heard quite a bit about the new generation of consoles via the grape vine at E3. The big winner is AMD, who will be providing the graphical power for all three of the next generation of major consoles as well as being in the running for putting a Bulldozer APU inside Sony's next game system. IBM is the other competitor for providing Nintendo's core with an updated Cell processor, which also will be running in the next generation XBox. Nintendo is also going with IBM, though they are looking at a custom built 45nm CPU. This is very good news for AMD, with a guaranteed presence in every console and a possible hardware monopoly with Sony.
"Guys talk, you hear things. And at this year's E3 HardOCP picked up a lot of information about the upcoming hardware in the next generation consoles. It will be interesting to see if our rumor mill churns up truth or fiction. We wanted to get this out the week after E3, but we had some I's to dot and some T's to cross."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Flashy Intel flash specs leak @ The Register
- Major ISPs agree to "six strikes" copyright enforcement plan @ Ars Technica
- Facebook adds Skype video chat @ The Inquirer
- Intel's Gallium3D Driver After Google's Work @ Phoronix
- Hackers booby-trap an Android racing game with malware @ The Inquirer
- Hobby Micro Distilling @ Make:Blog
- Revising Cinema for the Blu-ray age - Where to draw the line? @ Tweaktown
- Weekly Giveaway #5: Hearts Of Iron III Game Bundle @ eTeknix
- July Bjorn3D Folding @ Home Contest, Your Chance to Win a Gigabyte A75M-D2H
- Real World Labs And IN WIN Joint Contest
Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Processors | July 6, 2011 - 08:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, llano, APU, a-series, a8, a8-3850, overclocking
We have spent quite a bit of time with AMD's latest processor, the A-series of APUs previously known as Llano, but something we didn't cover in the initial review was how overclocking the A8-3850 APU affected gaming performance for the budget-minded gamer. Wonder no more!
In this short video we took the A8-3850 and pushed the base clock frequency from 100 MHz to 133 MHz and overclocked the CPU clock rate from 2.9 GHz to 3.6 GHz while also pushing the GPU frequency from 600 MHz up to 798 MHz. All of the clock rates (including CPU, GPU, memory and north bridge) are based on that base frequency so overclocking on the AMD A-series can be pretty simple provided the motherboard vendors provide the multiplier options to go with it. We tested a system based on a Gigabyte and an ASRock motherboard both with very good results to say the least.
We tested 3DMark11, Bad Company 2, Lost Planet 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Dirt 3 to give us a quick overall view of performance increases. We ran the games at 1680x1050 resolutions and "Medium"-ish quality settings to find a base frame rate on the APU of about 30 FPS. Then we applied our overclocked settings to see what gains we got. Honestly, I was surprised by the results.
While overclocking a Llano-based gaming rig won't make it compete against $200 graphics cards, getting a nice 30% boost in performance for a budget minded gamer is basically a no-brainer if you are any kind of self respecting PC enthusiast.
Subject: Processors | July 6, 2011 - 04:41 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: llano, APU, amd
Newegg recently opened up its Llano inventory to consumers, with both the A6-3650 and A8-3850 now in stock. The new AMD APUs represent a combination of AMD graphics and CPU, and are an interesting option for low cost systems on both the budget gaming machines using integrated graphics and small form factor HTPC systems.
Our you ready for Llnao? Why not join the discussion over in the forums and advocate whether Llnao is deserving of Hardware Leaderboard status?
Subject: Processors | July 6, 2011 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: llano, APU, amd
Llano is still very active in the news, as reviewers try to pin down exactly what the capabilities of a true APU are; what does it do well and what does it not do well. Most reviewers have discovered that AMD's offering is relatively weak at current generation general computation and absolutely amazing as an integral GPU. Part of the weakness in computational tasks seems to stem from the scarcity of programs that can take advantage of multi-core processors and the almost complete lack of GPU accelerated programs ... that are not graphical in nature. X-bit Labs takes a very in depth look at the modified Stars core called Husky and the Sumo graphical portion which resembles Redwood.
"Desktop Lynx platform that includes hybrid Llano processors has finally found its way to the consumers. Let’s take a closer look at it and find out how successful the combination of old Stars processor cores and a high-performance Radeon GPU actually is."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD A8-3850 2.9GHz Llano APU Review @ Legit Reviews
- A8-3850 vs. Core i3-2100 CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD A8-3850 (Llano) APU Video Performance Examined @ Tweaktown
- AMD A8-3850 Lynx APU Processor @ Benchmark Reviews
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2011 - 12:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: southern islands, parade, nvidia, kepler, fermi, amd
As is common in the industry, when one company releases news their competitors have to do something to distract people. Since in this case it was AMD's announcement of the Southern Islands release, it is NVIDIA who feels the need to hold a competing spectacle. In this case it was news that their new Fermi based 28nm Kepler GPU has taped out ... maybe. In this particular scenario we have an intentional leak from NVIDIA which was light on details and heavy on spin. SemiAccurate takes a long look at some of NVIDIA's claims, from the doubling of transistors with no cost in TDP to the probable difference between Tesla branded Fermi and GeForce branded Fermi cards to NVIDIA's claims that switching from 40nm to 28nm is hard and that it is all TSMC's fault.
"When SemiAccurate announced that AMD (NYSE:AMD) was aiming for September with Southern Islands (SI), you could almost set your watch to the Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) response. If you are new to the PR game, you will probably scratch your head wondering what we mean by Nvidia response, officially there is silence, but there definitely was a response."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- PowerPoint horror-slides @ Anti-PowerPoint Party
- Microsoft's Patriot Act admission has the EU up in arms @ Engadget
- Electronics tutorial two-fer: soldering skills and wires @ Hack a Day
- Nanomagnets Could Replace Transistors in Microprocessors @ Slashdot
- Nouveau Driver Power Management Against The NVIDIA Blob @ Phoronix
- Ipad 2 unlocked and jailbroken thanks to PDF exploit @ The Inquirer
- Industry Update: Gaming and Smartphone Stats in the Middle East @ t-break
- Contest: Thermaltake Level 10 GT Chassis @ Techgage
Subject: Systems | July 5, 2011 - 05:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, llano, sandybridge; a3850; i3 2100, amd, Intel, APU
In one corner is the $140 AMD A8-3850 and in the other is the $135 Intel Core i3-2100T, with matching motherboards both about $100. We have seen how the new Llano chips stack up in computation and gaming but their use in HTPC systems is also important and requires different benchmarks. Bjorn3D takes a look at the two chips ability to properly render Blu-ray at the proper 23.976 fps naturally as well as taking advantage of Direct X Video Acceleration. Take a look to see how AMD's new APU can handle a role as an HTPC.
"In addition to being a capable mainstream APU, the Llano and the new Lynx platform have the potential to be a perfect match for a more capable HTPC system. In this article we are taking a look at the HTPC capabilities of the A3850 and a Gigabyte A75 motherboard, and contrasting it to a comparable Intel system with a Core i3-2100T and an ASRock H67 motherboard."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- AMD A8-3850 : An HTPC Perspective @ AnandTech
- Veebeam HD Wireless Streamer Review @ Real World Labs
- A.C.Ryan PlayON!HD 2 FullHD Network Media Player Review @ Real World Labs
- Fractal Designs Define R3 Chassis Review @MissingRemote
- Streacom HDMI Audio Mix Cable Review @ eTeknix