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I'm new to the mining world and want to start with a typical mining motherboard + GPUs rig setup. I plan to use a 100% FLOSS, GNU/Linux based, operating system (Parabola, from which I'm a dev). The thing is that I'm not sure if the convenient GPUs I may use will work with 3D acceleration (due to the lack of free and open source firmware/drivers), although the rest of the features will. AFAIK, the GPUs are used for computing, calculations, etc., but nothing that would require 3D hardware acceleration, right? I think that's only needed for games and 3D modeling, although I'm not very sure about it. Is it necessary for mining?

Thanks in advanced.

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First of all, let's make costs clear. If power is extremely cheap for you (perhaps you make your own or have surplus from self-generated solar/wind), and you properly cool your GPU so that it does not burn itself out, then you MIGHT get a tiny amount of BTC from mining with a rig.

Nice Hash gives you about $1.78 per day for renting out an Nvidia 1080 Ti, so you would get $1.78 per day if your electricity costs are zero. A 1080 Ti is about $1125 and uses 250W. (2190 kWh per year, if ran 24h/day). IF you have free electricity, and given that the Bitcoin difficulty does not go up, this means you get about a 57% yearly RoI, and from this you must pay the 22MWh of electricity.

Now that the return rate is clear, the vast majority of GPU miners use a GPGPU language such as CUDA or OpenCL. You do not need 3D acceleration, "only" GPGPU.

But GPGPUs allow accelerating more general computation than 3D, so chances are it's a more difficult challenge to implement as free software. If you don't have drivers for 3D acceleration, it's even harder to have GPGPU drivers.

Here is the Nouveau feature matrix for reverse-engineered nVidia drivers. Note the "WIP" in the last row - the "Compute" one. That is GPGPU support.

I share your frustration, I wish to sometime use GPUs as neural network accelerators, but I refuse to use nVidia's proprietary drivers which offer me little control. I could not even get the temperature of the GPU from the proprietary driver, let alone throttle the card to prevent it from melting itself.

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To mine Bitcoin you need to spend a few thousand dollars on the latest Bitcoin ASICs, join a pool and have nearly-free electricity. You can't mine Bitcoin with GPUs - this has not been feasible for many many years now.


Footnote: the mining of altcoins is off-topic on bitcoin.stackexchange.com although there are other coin-specific stackexchange websites where you could ask this sort of question for a specific altcoin.

  • Well, if I ask in the Bitcoin StackExchange it's because I ask for BTC. I just wonder why there's still ppl doing BTC GPU mining. I assume I'll have to mine another crypto if I'll use GPU, right? at least to feasibly mine a feasible one – Megver83 Aug 24 '20 at 15:26
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    There are no people GPU mining BTC, except perhaps for educational purposes. It is a completely pointless waste of money. – Pieter Wuille Aug 24 '20 at 20:16

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