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I'm trying to understand the relationships between components in a video card and how it impacts Bitcoin mining.

What aspect of a video card is used during mining?

For example, I can find a Radeon 7950 or 7870 card with a price ranging from $100 to $700 with mainly these specs differing. I haven't found any performance metric that track Bitcoin to the underlying hardware with this in mind.

Any links would be appreciated.

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Realistically, it's a multiplier of the two. You can make up for a slower clock with more cores and vice versa, but the number of hashes per second is dependent on both.

Sadly, I'm not aware of any specific formula to approximate hashes per second for a given clock speed and number of cores.

It's important to note, by the way, that the one thing that won't buy you more hashes per second is the complexity of the cores. This is why Nvidia may make great cards for gaming purposes, but they suck for mining - games make better use of exotic new instructions than SHA256 does.

Update: Thanks to the table David Schwartz linked to I've been able to estimate that a theoretical AMD GPU core running at 1 MHz can calculate approximately 300 hashes per second. Therefore we can estimate hashes/sec as Cores * Clock * 300. This isn't really all that exact and it seems to over-estimate some cards and under-estimate otheres, even within the same family so I'm guessing ambient temperature and other factors were interfering with test results, but it seems to be an ok estimate in most cases. YMMV. It also fails miserably with older cards, but those get such pathetic hash rates it probably doesn't matter anyway.

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    There is a table in the Bitcoin wiki. – David Schwartz Sep 12 '12 at 21:49
  • The table is there for existing (known) hardware, I think the OP is asking for a way to do math with the # of cores and the clock rate to find mh/s, and I don't know of any source for that sort of a formula. – David Perry Sep 12 '12 at 21:50
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    Now that I look at it, I can do something with that big table in excel since it does list the # of stream processors for most of the cards as well as the clock rate and mh/s. Give me a few and I'll come up with as accurate a formula as I can – David Perry Sep 12 '12 at 22:08
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    I think you'll find that not all processors are created equal, but you can probably come up with something like clock frequency times processor count times "core factor", with a different "core factor" for each major series of cards. – David Schwartz Sep 12 '12 at 22:18
  • Yeah, I noticed that my estimated factor of 300 is only valid for the 5xxx and 6xxx Radeons. I don't see a lot of data for the 7xxx and it's WAY off for the Nvidia cards, so as I said, YMMV. – David Perry Sep 12 '12 at 23:02

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