I am very new to bitcoin and I am trying to understand a bit about mining theory. I do not dispute the convention of using ASIC based computation for bitcoin mining, but rather I'm curious about why they outperform co-processors like this for mining. Maybe a nuanced discussion of a few of the various trade-offs would be the easiest and clearest way to understand things. Let me break it down like this:

Parallelism: Co-processors are mostly used for task parallel code (non-vectorized code) whereas GPUs are adept at data parallel (vectorized) code. Two questions come to mind:

  • Are all mining codes in vectorized languages?
  • Can there ever be a benefit to mine in task parallel code? It seems like with bitcoin mining, there is only 1 task: crunching numbers. Am I oversimplifying it though? Perhaps with task parallelism one could run other algorithms to assist with the number crunching (such as compression, flush to zero, ect).

Calculations: Speaking of flush to zero, GPU's tend to perform better than co-processors with floating point calculations. However, co-processors perform better in logical as well as arithmetic calculations.

  • Is floating point calculation more important than logical/arithmetic in bitcoin mining?


Since GPUs run in sync, the whole dataset has to be transferred at the beginning and end of each task, but co-processors can move all the data from RAM to Host RAM in a fraction of a second. I'm not sure if this is true of ASIC processors, maybe it's different.

  • Would the issue of latency ever warrant the use of co-processors for mining, or is latency not a big issue?

Main Question Could there ever be a pure co-processor mining machine? What about a hybrid system using an array of co-processors and GPUs for the best of both worlds? Or would GPUs beat co-processors every time? Why or why not?

You may approach this question from any angle as per the content above. The answer doesn't have to answer all questions, I thought I would just include a few interrelated questions for robustness/comparison purposes.

I want to stipulate some assumptions to make sure the answer is mostly from a theoretical standpoint. I want to make the logistics of it all mostly out of scope.


  • Power consumption is out of scope
  • Unit price of GPUs and co-processors is out of scope (obviously co-processors are ungodly expensive)
  • Cost of electricity is out of scope
  • You may want to rethink this question because you are basing it off the assumption that people mine bitcoin blocks with GPUs, which hasn't been the case since 2013. Look up ASIC processors
    – Eric Allam
    Jan 2 '18 at 14:25

This and a followup were going around recently.

"Last week I posted on my latest toy, a rig that used eight Xeon Phi 7220 cards in a single 4u-server to achieve a total of roughly 24kH/s for cryptonote coins"

  • hmm, that's cool. I figured someone would want to experiment with scientific-grade co-processors. They seem slightly cost-prohibitive, but maybe they compensate somehow as per my OP (latency, calculations, ect)? Or maybe this guy built one to be solely a novelty item. Pretty cool either way, thanks! Feb 21 '18 at 6:33

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