AMD may soon offer Navi 10 and Navi 12 headless GPUs for cryptocurrency mining similar to NVIDIA's CMP HX cards
With increasing concerns of cryptocurrency miners lapping-up most GPUs, which themselves are scarce to come by these days, GPU makers are looking at ways of catering to both miners and gamers by segregating their product offerings. We recently saw NVIDIA introduce the CMP HX GPU that is squarely aimed at miners, so that gamers may have a better chance at buying GeForce Ampere cards. Looks like AMD may also follow suit.
Phoronix has discovered patch notes for a new AMDGPU kernel driver that indicates changes to what appears to be a Navi 12 or NV12 SKU. NV12 is a "headless" graphics card, meaning it lacks support for Video Core Next (VCN) and display outputs. The entry in the new driver for Linux kernel 5.12 reads, "Handle new NV12 SKU". These changes seem to be similar to the Navi 10 "Blockchain" graphics card (NV10) indicated last year, which also lacked VCN and Display Core Next (DCN).
So far, the only Navi 12 GPUs available are the Radeon Pro 5600M in the Apple MacBook Pro 16 and the Radeon Pro V520 workstation card. Navi 12 also offers two stacks of 4 GB HBM2 VRAM each (394 GB/s) while Navi 10 uses GDDR6 memory (448 GB/s). Both Navi 12 and Navi 10 feature 40 compute units or 2,560 stream processors.
With AMD cards already known to be better than older generation NVIDIA contemporaries, these headless GPUs may find good acceptance among miners. Pushing RDNA1 for mining ensures better availability of RDNA2 for gamers as miners obviously wouldn't be needing features such as ray accelerators or Infinity Cache.
While this is a good move in general, it does not really stop miners from getting their hands on what they think is the best GPU choice for their mining rigs. Besides, it once again brings forth the concerns of e-waste as these headless cards do not have any resale value and cannot be repurposed for gaming once the crypto craze eventually dies down.