AMD may have a plan for leftover first-gen RDNA graphics cards: cryptocurrency mining

MSI AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
(Image credit: MSI)

You may recall the cryptocurrency mining rush a few years back, when Ethereum and Bitcoin were at an all-time high and GPU stock was at an all-time low. The display-less GPUs that emerged from the fray were intended to balance the market, leaving the gaming-focused GPUs for the gamers and ensuring prospectors had access to tech that was optimised for mining their precious digital goodies.

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We've not hit that crypto-gold rush again, thankfully. But to add a new twist to the market, PayPal recently announced that it would be accepting cryptocurrency payments, which means Bitcoin has just seen another positive turn. And with the new AMD’s Big Navi hitting the markets next week, AMD could have a plan for older RDNA cards to play a part in the current cryptocurrency market. 

The guys over at Phoronix today spotted something called the “navi10 blockchain SKU” among Linux drivers (device ID 0x731E), essentially this means we may soon be able to expect a new Navi graphics card specifically designed for cryptocurrency mining tasks.

It looks to be based on the RDNA 1.0 architecture, on the 7nm FinFET process node, and comes with the exact same 40 Compute Units (CUs) and 2,560 Stream Processors (SPs) configuration as the RX 5700 XT. The only difference between the patches posted and the current AMDGPU Linux kernel drivers is that the DCN (Display Core Next) and VCN (Video Core Next) engines are disabled—meaning the new Navi 10 SKU will be lacking graphics display support.

But before you get your prospecting hats on, remember these are just rumours. Something solid should surface soon, perhaps during AMD's graphics stream next week on the 28th, so keep an eye out for updates on this potential blockchain-specific graphics card. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to turn a profit too.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.