Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bitcoin Mining Tutorial!

Believe it or not, this is true. You can make money simply by using your GPU (graphics card) in your computer calculate hashes. Most times people work together in "pools" so that they can find "blocks" faster (Its like the hashes is the hay, and the block is the needle in a haystack). These blocks are what gives you're main money; when the pool finds these, it gives each user some ratio of money. This money is sent as bitcoins which is basically electronic money that can be used on many websites and converted in to hard cash. A program called Bitcoin generates "keys" that are given to the pool server so that it knows where to send the bitcoins. This programs stores the money in a "wallet" on your computer, so if someone breaks into your computer, they could steal them, or if you forget the wallet password (if you encrypt it).  I'm not sure exactly, but i think each of these hashes is encrypting the bitcoins to keep it safe in some way.

More after the break!


Performance:
These calculations require a good GPU such as a ATI (AMD) 5850 Radeon HD. This only works really well on AMD based GPUs because they have a lot of stream processors, but a lower clock (lots of little things working for a whole). Nvidia GPUs have fewer stream processors, but a faster clock speed (fewer bigger things working for a whole). In game AMD and Nividia are pretty close, but in this sorta thing, AMD completely destroys Nividia GPUs. One of the latest Nivdia GPUs (the geforce 680, 550$ retail) only generates 120Mhash/s, where a 5850 (299$ retail, discontinued) can do at most ~400Mhash/s. Also, you should note that the newer AMD GPUs aren't better either, and some are actually worse by far (but better than Nividia). The 5xxx series is the best (mainly the 5770+). Check here for performance comparisons: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison#Graphics_cards

Since i have the 5850, ill be focusing on that. On a very simple setup with no overclocking (OC), it generates 270MHash/s. After installing the AMD 2.2 SKD, few extra flags in the gui program, and a slight OC, i was up to 340MHash/s! My card is a poor OCer, so i could only raise the clock speed to 830Mhz from 725Mhz stock and the memory speed to 1200Mhz from 1000Mhz stock. The people who get 400MHash/s+ are the ones who have good OCing GPUs (~950Mhz at most).

The one main thing has changed performance for me is the SDK version. Most people say that version  2.1 is for 5xxx, 2.4/2.5 for 6xxx, and 2.6 for 7xxx, but that isnt necessarily true. I, thinking that 2.1 would be better,  moved down from 2.2 and lost ~44MHash/s which is pretty big. So, try to experiment with different versions. Seem say the CCC has a big affect too, but ive tried a few (not the newest), and they don't seem to make a difference. v11.11 is the most recommended, though and if you need the latest version for something, it will probably be fine.

Another thing to look out for is the GPU temperature. Mine sits at 62c at 99% capacity while running and 52c while idle. I dont like things to overheat so this is really good. I'd say <80c is the most id feel comfortable with. They can handle 100c+ but life span goes down the drain ;).

One last thing. Watching 720p+ videos or any sort of game is out of the question when it is at 99% capacity with the GUIMiner. Lowering the aggression (later), getting a second GPU, or stopping it is about the only choice. This is even with a Phenom II x6 @ 3.52 Ghz, 4gb ram, 1Tb HDD, ATI 5850.

To get started in bitcoin mining, you need:

1. Download the SDK version for your GPU series. Not Required, but is very little effort for more MHash/s
2. Download the CCC version that you need.
3. Download GPU Miner
4. Downlaod MSI AfterBurner. Not Required, but is a little bit more effort for more MHash/s
5. Install all of them and RESTART.
6. Sign up for a pool. I went to this list and found a local (USA for me), non-fee one. bitcoinpool.com The pool will give you an address if it isnt in the drop down server menu of the GUIMiner program (click on "other" in the drop down server menu and fill out the stuff if it isn't there). Also, bitcoinpool gives you a separate password for signing in to the pool from the GUIMiner program from what your user/pass is. It is sent to you in an email or you can generate a new one on the "account" page of the website.
7. Open Bitcoin and go to the receiving tab. copy this to the Bitcoin address (or similar) at your pool website.
8. Open GPUMiner, close out of the tab and go to File->new miner->Pheonix miner. select the server, type your user/pass, paste in the flags, select your GPU from the "Device:" drop down, and decelt all the check boxes below it. The Flags: -k phatk2 VECTORS BFI_INT AGGRESSION=8 FASTLOOP=true WORKSIZE=128 
These are the flags that i have found to best work for my 5850. Put them into the "Extra Flags:" box in the GUIMiner program. Lower the '8' from "AGGRESSION=8" if you want to watch a movie etc and higher if you aren't doing anything and you want it to run faster (more MHash/s, more money).
8. Start Mining!
9. To futher improve your mining rate, you can OC your GPU as i said earlier. to do this, you need open the MSI Afterburner application.

Increase Memory Clock to 1200Mhz. This should work on any 5850 as even mine worked this high.

Then you need to increase the Core Clock. This can vary greatly depending on how good of an OCer your GPU is, but, try putting it up to 810Mhz and then raise it in 10 or 5Mhz segments until your computer freezes up (or the highest you want to go). After you change a setting you need to click apply which makes the changes in real time (so no restart needed). While doing this make sure that "Apply overclocking at system startup" is disabled, or when it crashes, it will go back to the bad values and crash again (use safe mode to fix this). When it gets to the freezing point, lower it about 10Mhz and then start mining again. It should run days on end and not crash. If it does crash (GPU related), then you need to lower the Core Clock more and try again. My 5850 has been at 99% usage for almost two days so im thinking mine is stable.

Another thing to check is fan speed. You can either:
1. Leave it on auto (too hot for my tastes)
2. Disable the auto option in MSI AB. and set the fan to 100% (very noisy)
3. Click on "Settings" - > "Fan" and input a custom fan speed vs temp curve. Then make sure "User Define" is selected (fan speed area will highlite red) and apply it. This is the best in my opinion.

Now that it is stable, save the profile, check  "Apply OCing at Startup" and mine away!

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