Building a cheap and second hand FP64 Monster -- GridcoinsteemCreated with Sketch.

in gridcoin •  10 months ago


Hi all,

Have you ever wanted to build a very capable computer to support science that is on the other hand side quite cheap to buy and re uses hardware that has been on the market for a long time ? There is a good opportunity out there for exactly doing that and additionally you can even earn gridcoins for that computation in exchange.
In this series of articles i will exactly do that, from the basics and the shopping list, the building and installing on to the crunching :)

But lets start with the basics first.

The Basics

The key to all this is called FP64. GPUs are generally very good at doing math, the precision within that mathematics can be set by the needs of the programmer. FP64 hereby specifies double precision, FP32 being the single and FP16 half precision.
Why is this important ?


Game development is more about FP32 and nowadays also a lot about FP16 calculations, therefore the designers of graphic cards (for the consumer market) are more into optimizing this than the FP64 power.
The outcome of this can be seen in the following table:

(GFlops means Giga Floating Point Operations per Second = 10^9 Flops, the more the better )

Graphic cardChipsetFP64 GFlopsFP32 GFlopsYear
Radeon 6970Cayman XT67527032010
Radeon 7870 Ghz EdtionPitcairn XT16025602012
Radeon 7870 XTTahiti LE74929952012
Radeon 7950Tahiti PRO2/PRO76130462012
Radeon 7970Tahiti XT94737882012
Radeon 7970 Ghz EditionTahiti XT2107543002012
Radeon 7990New Zealand189482002013
Radeon R9 270xPitcairn XT16025602013
Radeon R9 390Hawaii Pro64051202015
Radeon R9 Fury XFiji XT53786012015
Radeon RX 480Ellesmere XT32351612016
RX Vega 56Vega 10659105442017
RX Vega 64Vega 10792126652017
Nvidia GTX1050tiGP107-400-A16621232016
Nvidia GTX1060GP106-400-A113743722016
Nvidia GTX1070GP104-200-A120264632016
Nvidia GTX1080tiGP102-350-K1-A1354113402017

There are some very remarkable things to be seen here. First of old Radeon Cards like the 7970 or even the 7870 XT are superior to even the GTX 1080ti in terms of FP64. Even the 6970 with the Cayman XT Chip is almost doubling the FP64 performance of a 1080ti. What also can be seen that in terms of performance increase over the years there was a lot movement, just not in FP64. The AMD cards are no better, the brand new Vega 64 is inferior to an old 7970.

What does that mean ? Are those cards really faster ?
Well there is no short answer to that, but in this specific field the answer is clearly yes. In a lot of other topics like memory bandwith, FP32 calculations, in short in all relevant things for gaming the answer is clearly no.

Ok but for what do we need this FP64 power ?

This is where the fun starts, there are scientific projects that require this double precision calculations. Milkyway@home for instance is such a project. This project uses the FP64 calculations to create a highly accurate three dimensional model of the Milky Way galaxy.

The shopping List

This all got me thinking and i came up with a shopping list for a 4 GPU crunching machine (should yield somewhere >150 mag easily).

This is just an idea, for sure the hardware can differ if you want to build such a thing for yourself. I took the Asus Board because i already have a few of them running and they are solid as a rock :) and on the other hand brings enough PCIe ports to connect the GPUs to. Iam not yet fixed in what GPUs i want to have, 7970 would be fine but 7950 or 7870XT would also do. Only in the PSU i will make no compromise, i want to have a stable new one, i wont trust in something used.

I will try Ebay and other sources of old hardware, lets see what i can get there. Maybe there is also a price drop with the new Vega Cards out, altough i dont really believe in that, there are just so few shipped ...


I will start the shopping now, once it is concluded iam going to follow this up with the next chapter :)

If you want to know more about Gridcoin please take a look here:

Gridcoin: Gridcoin Website

If you want to know more about FP64 crunching in specific, please look into the posts from @vortac. There are quite a few and they are brilliant.

Example on Vortacs posts for GPUs: GPU Mining 6

Content credit:
Gridcoin Header, @joshoeah

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absolutely, the only bad thing is that i did not read this before ! Thanks for making us all aware, there is such masses of information that it is really hard to keep an overview.
And yes this article is absolutely quality work just as expected from @dutch


Thanks guys, and a good read @Jedigeiss! If I had more spare time on my hands I would love to do a build like this.

Those 7990s that you are having trouble finding are probably hoarded into @Vortac's closets. =)


This could be the reason @dutch :) this card was a monster carrying two GPU chips and cost something like 1200 euro... I don't think that they build many of that design... But nevertheless I really would like to get my hands on one of those:)


I've been trying to build this kind of rig following vortac's earlier articles. I hope you have better fortune that I with secondhand parts--ATM I can only get a single GPU to run at a time (even on a dedicated mining board--can you have 8+ bad GPU risers?), Win10 cuts off the Wifi at random intervals, and just today the old HDD I was running things from has decided to crash its heads together and quit.

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Thans alot ! doing my best over here :D

Ich find das ne super Idee !
So kann man nachhaltiger konsumieren. Drück dir die Daumen das du alles so bekommst wie du es dir wünscht. Ich hätt ja gern einen Laptop auf dem das geht, dass man einfach austauschen kann, beim Handy wär das auch cool.


Hi Rachel, das geht auch auf einem Laptop oder einem Handy, letztlich ist das erarbeiten von Gridcoins allerdings zumindest hier in D eher ne kostendeckende Sache und nicht etwas mit dem man massiv Geld verdienen kann. Ich mach das tatsächlich nur zur Unterstützung der Wissenschaft und weil es mich fasziniert :D
Wobei wenn der Preis von Gridcoin steigt könnte das gleich ganz anders aussehen, aber das weiss man ja nie so genau :D

Good luck for finding gpu-s!
I use old 280x cards (some 270x too) in my hobby rigs and it's almost impossible to buy those cards with normal price...
Normal for me is 50 - 70 €, ok, 80 - 90 € for MSI or Windforce3x... but people are asking 100 - 150, even 200!!!

The HD 78x0/79x0 are good cards, indeed. But the GTX Titan/ Titan Black/ Titan Z are also very good for FP64. Even when they cost about double up to triple the price.


hi jexkin, yeah the Titan is awesome in FP64 as well but they are still just damn expensive ..

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Awesome idea!
I was considering looking into upgrading my video card when I have some money available (my whole system could use it actually), but reading that makes me think my radeon 6770 just may outperform anything else I would get in FP64 crunching!


ah well i just digged in the data shortly, the 6770 is everywhere listed with N/A at double precision GFlops. I did not invest the time to find out why. It was the 6970 that has a quite good performance in this field.


Yeah...I saw that too. Coincidentally, a friend just gave me his old video card, an Nvidia GTX 750 which is leisurely cranking out FP64. Better than none definitely!

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Hi, I'm also interested on this project. Hoping to see your updates!


well hardware is trickling in very slowly, since i want to have used hardware that is possibly not directly failing after 2 days iam quite picky :D But an update will come for sure !

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Are there any other good FP64 projects?