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How does power limit influence mining performance?

Author: LB 2022-01-12 846

Changing the amount of power drawn by your GPU from the wall can heavily influence mining performance. Miners from 2022, especially in Europe are faced with increasing energy prices, therefore I found it expedient to do a short research on how changing the power limit parameter influences power consumption and I tried to shed light on the connection between mining performance and this magical PL value.

One of the most convenient approaches is to use a Ubuntu distribution (5.11.0-44-generic) and install the necessary tools to start mining ethereum. In 2022, ethereum is still the most popular coin to mine using GPUs and there are a handful of software solutions that can be used to run its mining algorithm. In the current work, I used T-Rex NVIDIA GPU miner v0.24.8 rev.24882b3a9e07 and I tested several Geforce Nvidia cards to quantify the relationship between PL (power limit) and mining hashrate.

In order to set the power limit, I used the following command: "sudo nvidia-smi -i 1 -pl $PL", where $PL is a variable to control the amount of electric power drawn from the wall socket. First of all let’s see how the Geforce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition performs in this test environment!

Also note that I left the core and the memory frequency untouched and I only modified the PL parameter. Moreover I observed that changing the power limit value using the command I described above produces no effect, unless I’m running the miner. I was also interested in the core temperature and in order to measure this value more accurately, I left a window of 60 seconds so that the GPU has time to cool down. The ambient temperature was around 20 degrees, as expected in January in Europe. I defined a PL range from 220W to 100W and I measured the number of hashes generated in the ethash algorithm for 45 minutes. I increased the PL value by 20W and I calculated an average through this time period. Here are the results for the Geforce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition card.

PL vs. hashrate on Geforce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition

We can conclude that the 3060 Ti is very modest in terms of power consumption. Without overclocking its memory or computing core, it can produce 46.46 MH/s with only 100W. If you increase PL to 120W, then the card reaches its full capacity and it's mining ethereum with roughly 52 MH/s. In this PL range GPU temperature changes from 61 degrees to 75 degrees in a linear fashion. I believe that if you increase the core and the memory frequency further then you can get even higher MH/s values. Now let's move on to the Geforce RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition card.

PL vs. hashrate on Geforce RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition

This card exhibits a slightly steeper curve. Hashrates degrade severely around 100W-120W and mining performance seems to stabilizConfirmationse when PL is set to 160W. Therefore it's pointless to set PL higher than 160W for this card. In this PL range GPU temperature changes from 61 degrees to 70 degrees in a linear fashion. Now let's see how the RTX 3090 performs!

Mining toncoin on RTX 3090

Toncoin mining has been gaining increased attention in recent days, especially because sometimes mining profitability for toncoin can be better than ethereum's mining profitability. Another reason for toncoin being popular is the PoS transition of the ethereum network, which is predicted to happen in 2022. When this takes place, the PoW chain goes offline and GPU miner will no longer be able to mine ethereum. For these reasons I found it interesting to investigate how the RTX 3090 performs when mining toncoin and changing its PL value. I executed a similar test scenario and my results are as follows:

PL vs. hashrate on Geforce RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition when mining toncoin

For this card we get less blissful results, as hashrate changes in a quasi linear fashion with respect to PL. In other words, there is no clear range for the RTX 3090 in which increasing the PL would make no sense. the graph is telling you that if you want more toncoin hashes per second, increase power consumption! This didn't apply for the RTX 3070Ti or the RTX 3060Ti when mining ethereum. There is one more discernible thing on this graph. Observe that the curve is plateauing when the PL is being increased. This means that mining efficiency degrades with increasing power consumption. If cost of electricity is an issue for you, or mining profits are lower due to low coin prices, you might be better off buying two cards and operating then with a lower PL value.

Mining ethereum on RTX 3090

Now let's see how changing power limit influences the ethereum mining hashrate.

PL vs. hashrate on Geforce RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition when mining ethereum

Oddly enough, we get a completely different shape. In this case the ethereum mining hashrate is very low when PL is at 220W and it increases almost linearly when going to 240W and peaks at 280W. Further increasing power consumption has no effect on the mining performance, so my recommendation would be to set PL to 280 when mining ethereum on an RTX 3090 Ti founders edition card.

We can concluded that the PL curve has different shapes based on both the mining algorithm and the GPUs. In other words some benchmark calculations might be necessary to find the optimal settings. With increasing electricity prices these calculations will be of utmost importance for PoW miners.

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