Over the last several years, the cryptocurrency mining game has evolved dramatically, shifting from traditional central processing units (CPUs) to graphic processing units (GPUs) and now progressively to specialized application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners.
The primary driver of this shift is the fast-growing hash rates for currencies produced using SHA256 algorithms, such as Bitcoin. Nonetheless, GPUs are still widely used in the cryptocurrency mining sector.
This article will compare ASIC mining vs. GPU mining in terms of features, benefits, and differences.
Brief Overview of GPU Mining and ASIC Mining
A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a dedicated computer processor that can handle several data sets simultaneously, accelerating computer processes. In addition, GPUs feature many arithmetic logical units (ALU) that allow them to process information fast.
GPU mining often lowers entry barriers for novice cryptocurrency miners, such as reduced hardware costs and a larger range of mineable currencies. As a result, some GPU miners refer to the practice as a stepping stone toward cryptocurrency mining. Purchasing and setting up a GPU mining setup is quite straightforward, and most would-be miners already have a GPU that they can utilize for mining in their homes. Additionally, GPUs are available from most big-box retailers and internet markets.
Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) mining devices are pieces of hardware intended for a particular purpose: cryptocurrency mining. In contrast to GPUs used by gamers and miners, ASICs are designed primarily for mining a specific certain coin; because ASICs are specialized and dedicated mining gears, they solve the Proof-of-Work complex mathematical problems faster than GPUs, GPU mining has become unprofitable for PoW mining.
ASIC mining devices are often more costly, noisier, and power-consuming than GPU mining computers. However, they often require less maintenance and provide more efficient electricity usage.
Key Differences Between GPU Mining and ASIC Mining
There are a couple of major differences between GPU and ASIC mining. These include, but are not limited to:
1. Hashrate Output
Without a doubt, ASICs are the most powerful crypto mining machines. Equipping your mining business with this powerful machinery will put you ahead of other solitary miners. In contrast, GPU mining equipment's hashrate cannot compete with ASICs; thus, pointing to any proof-of-work network with a serious mining difficulty is pointless.
2. Flexibility and adaptability
GPU mining rigs lead the way in this sector. ASIC miners are incapable of being repurposed in any way. Their sole purpose is to mine a single algorithm.
Obsolescence is another consequence of ASICs' lack of flexibility. Manufacturers of hardware are always developing more powerful and efficient versions. When these new miners enter the market, the existing ones lose considerable profitability and, as a result, market value.
In contrast, flexibility is likely the most important quality of GPU mining. Not only to repurpose them for purposes other than mining but also to adapt to the ever-changing crypto market conditions. Indeed, GPU mining rigs allow miners to alter algorithms for higher profits.
3. Ease of Use
ASICs are simple to utilize. Even if you've never mined before, you don't need a mining specialist to help you set up an ASIC. However, because mining is a competitive industry, profitability is always inversely related to how easy it is to mine stuff.
GPUs, on the other hand, are harder to use. This is because mining requires a range of standard gear, such as GPUs (AMD or Nvidia), repurposed laptops, ethernet cables, etc.
4. Energy Efficiency
ASICs are the market leaders in this category because hardware makers optimize ASIC miners to produce greater hashrate per kilowatts consumed. Their main advantages are their high hashrate production and energy efficiency.
Conversely, GPUs are general-purpose components; hence, they do not have the efficiency of ASICs that are dedicated for a single purpose; as a result, they have a lower hashrate per kilowatts consumed.
Profitability of GPU Mining and ASIC Mining
Although GPUs are generally cheaper than ASICs, some may be more expensive than ASICs, depending on their modularity. Still, ASICs are generally more expensive and profitable than GPUs, especially for Bitcoin and other Proof-of-Work cryptocurrencies that use the SHA-256 algorithm.
ASICs are generally more profitable because they can mine faster than GPUs; hence a GPU miner competing with other ASIC miners will barely make any profits; Hence, GPU mining works excellently with other PoW blockchains that do not favour computational power (where ASICs dominate) such has the equihash algorithm used by Zcash and Bitcoin Gold.
Maintainenance and Resale Value of Mining Equipment
GPUs are generally better to maintain in the long run as they are simpler to purchase, service, and sell because they are made of off-the-shelf computer parts.
In cases of rising electricity cost, when the profitability of an equipment no longer outweighs the energy cost, the rig is rendered useless. Hence, investing in an ASIC rig may not be profitable unless you have free or low-cost power, you may be better of buying cryptocurrency or investing in a GPU unit, as paying for power could cost you more money than mining for cryptocurrency.
ASICs are dubbed "one-trick ponies" since they can only mine certain types of cryptocurrency. Conversely, GPUs can be used for other various applications; hence, when profits are poor, miners might sell their rigs to gamers for good value. However, because the ASIC is exclusively used for mining, poor returns mean you're stuck with a computer that you can't utilize for anything else unless you sell for a way lesser value.
While both ASIC mining and GPU mining offer apparent benefits for miners, each option has a distinct edge that outperforms the other. ASICs, for example, is more lucrative than GPUs, because they are specialized for a single operation (mining); hence, ASICs mine with maximum efficiency, resulting in more revenue. ASIC mining dominates every currency it encounters, reducing GPU mining profitability to nearly non-existent.