Making the case for the BC-160

Peter van Kalleveen
Peter van Kalleveen
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Topic 227659

Hey guys,

 

I have recently done a decent amount of testing with the BC-160 ''Crypto mining'' card as compute engine and its truly amazing with some small caveats for consideration.

With the crypto crashes and the most profitable gpu mining coin (Ethereum) switching to proof of stake instead of proof of work and hereby eliminating the need for gpu compute. These cards might show up somewhere cheap second hand and if you save them from the electronic garbage where most will end up you will be happily rewarded by some hefty efficient compute.

First of the BC-160 is a gpu with a blower style cooler, has no display outputs and you cannot buy it anywhere officially and nowhere is it mentioned on the AMD website. This leads to what is probably the biggest deal breaker for most, It does not exists in windows nor are there any drivers for this card. If you only run windows this card is not for you.

Now the GPU itself is actually pretty cool, its the RDNA 1 gpu die that is found in the rx5700 and w5700 but with a twist...... Namely 8gb of hbm2, like the Vega56&64. First released as the cloud only data center GPU the Radeon Pro V520 (no downloadable drivers). Most notable use is powering google Stadia. (So on a small side note, if you try really hard you can get a driver from amazon AWS who also has them in certain instances but only for windows server and you cant run them bare metal. 

Later this GPU was also released in the last x86 based macbook Pro 16''

So hopefully with this backstory it is beginning to sound a bit more interesting.

Second disclaimer, i run these cards on HiveOS, that i modified so it can also run Boinc. I can't get any AMD Pro GPU to work with boinc if i just start from normal ubuntu installation partly because i am completely Linux noob. Since Hive os is just a Debian Ubuntu 18.04 i can image a more skilled person to also get them to work on other clean Linux installs. The OS just identifies them as V520

Now on with some performance stats, i will first give 1 mining performance comparison because it really does translate well to the real-world compute performance in boinc.

I have all mentioned cards except the VII pro(stock) running and custom tuned everything from frequency’s, voltages and with the W5700 custom bios with custom memory timings and powerplay tables.

Before the BC-160 the W5700 was efficiency king.

 

GPU

Power Use total

Hashrate

Efficiency (higher=better)

 

RTX 3090

320W

120 mh/s

0.375

 

RTX A4000

130W

62 mh/s

0.477

 

AMD W5700

105W

54 mh/s

0.514

 

VII Pro

160W

78 mh/s

0.487

 

AMD BC-160

120W

72 mh/s

0.6

 

So this gives a good representation of the incredible efficiency of this card.

Moving on to Einstein@home, CPU host was an i7-12700KF running HiveOS ubuntu 18.04 based with a Boinc install.

I tested the AMD GPU’s in the primary x16 slot and used a w6600 as display out in the third slot. Running 2 WU of Gravitational Wave search 03 with 2 CPU threads per WU.

W5700 Completes a WU in around 14-18 minutes running 2 parallel. Time fluctuation is depending on if it’s a model with Samsung or micron memory.

VII Pro is a real beast and runs 11 - 12 Minutes for the WU.

The BC-160 Needs only 09 - 10 minutes making it even faster than the VII pro.

When scaling up to 3 WU the VII pro is a bit faster than the BC-160 although the total time needed increases rapidly for both. The VII has almost double the shader cores and double the memory bandwidth with 4 HBM2 stacks so the crazy thing is that all that is mostly compensated with just the step to RDNA 1 as gpu.

For now the cards are back to the mining rig for the last months until Eth2.0 but after that I’m going to build a 6 GPU rig on a thread ripper platform for Einstein@home. So if the whole GPU mining scene is wrapping up and you come across these cards I hope you will save them from the trash because even with the small caveats they are really awesome cards

 

Ian&Steve C.
Ian&Steve C.
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i think you made a mistake

i think you made a mistake using the Gravitational Wave application for your test. this application is CPU bottlenecked. faster CPUs will make the same GPU work faster.

you should load up the gamma ray application and do a head to head comparison there, since that application is much more optimized for GPU compute with less reliance on the CPU. looking a the specs, I assume it's about half as fast as a radeon VII for a well-optimized application. but also take note that with the best nvidia application available, an RTX 3080Ti is about twice as fast as a Radeon VII.

 

the biggest problem with this GPU, even in spite of the technical hurdles to get drivers installed and whatnot, is the low availability on the used market means that the price is high. ~$1600 on ebay for the few I found. you can buy two Radeon VII's for that price. gonna be a tough sell for anyone who doesnt already have one and hasn't recouped their cost from 2 years of mining.

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mikey
mikey
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Ian&Steve C. wrote: i think

Ian&Steve C. wrote:

i think you made a mistake using the Gravitational Wave application for your test. this application is CPU bottlenecked. faster CPUs will make the same GPU work faster.

you should load up the gamma ray application and do a head to head comparison there, since that application is much more optimized for GPU compute with less reliance on the CPU. looking a the specs, I assume it's about half as fast as a radeon VII for a well-optimized application. but also take note that with the best nvidia application available, an RTX 3080Ti is about twice as fast as a Radeon VII.

 

the biggest problem with this GPU, even in spite of the technical hurdles to get drivers installed and whatnot, is the low availability on the used market means that the price is high. ~$1600 on ebay for the few I found. you can buy two Radeon VII's for that price. gonna be a tough sell for anyone who doesnt already have one and hasn't recouped their cost from 2 years of mining. 

If people haven't already cashed out their mining credits they now have a long haul wait until it goes back up into the stratosphere again, the Crypto Market crashed big time today with GridCoin alone going down over 13%.

GWGeorge007
GWGeorge007
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mikey wrote: If people

mikey wrote:

If people haven't already cashed out their mining credits they now have a long haul wait until it goes back up into the stratosphere again, the Crypto Market crashed big time today with GridCoin alone going down over 13%.

Awww... isn't that too bad?  Well, they can always get into E@H or another BOINC project.

George

Proud member of the Old Farts Association

mikey
mikey
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GWGeorge007 wrote: mikey

GWGeorge007 wrote:

mikey wrote:

If people haven't already cashed out their mining credits they now have a long haul wait until it goes back up into the stratosphere again, the Crypto Market crashed big time today with GridCoin alone going down over 13%.

Awww... isn't that too bad?  Well, they can always get into E@H or another BOINC project.

Einstein is on the GC list of Projects that pay out GC's for your crunching,

Peter van Kalleveen
Peter van Kalleveen
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Well it was more a heads up

Well it was more a heads up for when gpu mining is over with Eth 2.0, look for them in august/September time frame.

Most cards can be resold to gamers and stuff but these are at that point really valueless on the second hand marked. Now anyone still tries to catch the max price for everything they sell but its already way to late for that.

But to be fair with there efficiency even today they still make good profit, but the ETH 2.0 is really coming up in couple of months and then nothing will be profitable anymore with the GPU

The gravitational wave is bottlenecked but with a i7-12700K that is overclocked to the max its as good as it gets. Somehow i am almost exclusively always getting gravitational wave and not gamma ray.

But give me a week or so before i have some motivation to reopen the mining rigs and grab a card out of it for a gamma ray comparison. I am really surprised about you're claim of the RTX 3080TI speed, I myself have a RTX A6000 in the workstation and it was not faster then the radeon pro VII, but the a6000 has pretty slow gddr6 memory instead of gddr6x  on the 3080ti, this would support the thought that the work is also decently GPU memory bound. That would also boost my confidence that the BC-160 will also perform excellent on these tasks.

Ian&Steve C.
Ian&Steve C.
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Just uncheck gravitational

Just uncheck gravitational wave tasks from your project preferences and you won’t get them. Then it will only get gamma rays 

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Ian&Steve C.
Ian&Steve C.
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To get the most speed form

To get the most speed from your A6000, you’ll need to switch to Linux and run the custom application using the instructions here: https://einsteinathome.org/content/einstein-fgrpb1g-linuxnvidia-special-app-aio

this is for Nvidia on Linux. There is no AMD or Windows equivalent. But I’m confident that an A6000 on this app will be faster than a Radeon VII still.

 

 

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mikey
mikey
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Ian&Steve C. wrote: Just

Ian&Steve C. wrote:

Just uncheck gravitational wave tasks from your project preferences and you won’t get them. Then it will only get gamma rays 

 

Also remember to check NO here:

Allow non-preferred apps: YES NO

If no work for selected applications are available, accept tasks from other applications?

Peter van Kalleveen
Peter van Kalleveen
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Wel good news update

Wel good news update guys,

After lots of frustration with linux again,....

I got found out a workaround to get the cards working on windows.

Sort version, make sure the AMD pro drivers are installed with another card in the system.

Run amd pixel patcher to disable bios checksum.

Go to windows device manager, select the generic windows graphic device, install drivers manual and show non compliant devices. Somewhere in the list of AMD devices there is also a general Radeon pro graphics.

If you select that the card works and most stat readouts work and performance as it should be.

 

Lots of fun, i have now put together my 3960x, with the Pro VII and triple BC-160. Its a beast.

For now it again runs gravitational wave, but it does 15 min per task when running 3 tasks per gpu with 4 gpus.

So a total of 48 waves WU per hour

Peter van Kalleveen
Peter van Kalleveen
Joined: 15 Jan 19
Posts: 45
Credit: 250,329,645
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Thanks, when i do a nvidia

Thanks, when i do a nvidia build again i will certainly check it out.

For now the a6000 is my main video edit and neural network training unit so its more in use than not for other things.

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