Why are AMD GPUs faster than Nvidia GPUs?

Firstly, AMD designs GPUs with many simple ALUs/shaders (VLIW design) that run at a relatively low frequency clock (typically 1120-3200 ALUs at 625-900 MHz), whereas Nvidia’s microarchitecture consists of fewer more complex ALUs and tries to compensate with a higher shader clock (typically 448-1024 ALUs at 1150-1544 MHz). Because of this VLIW vs. non-VLIW difference, Nvidia uses up more square millimeters of die space per ALU, hence can pack fewer of them per chip, and they hit the frequency wall sooner than AMD which prevents them from increasing the clock high enough to match or surpass AMD’s performance. This translates to a raw ALU performance advantage for AMD:

  • AMD Radeon HD 6990: 3072 ALUs x 830 MHz = 2550 billion 32-bit instruction per second
  • Nvidia GTX 590: 1024 ALUs x 1214 MHz = 1243 billion 32-bit instruction per second

This approximate 2x-3x performance difference exists across the entire range of AMD and Nvidia GPUs. It is very visible in all ALU-bound GPGPU workloads such as Bitcoin, password bruteforcers, etc.

Secondly, another difference favoring Bitcoin mining on AMD GPUs instead of Nvidia’s is that the mining algorithm is based on SHA-256, which makes heavy use of the 32-bit integer right rotate operation. This operation can be implemented as a single hardware instruction on AMD GPUs (BIT_ALIGN_INT), but requires three separate hardware instructions to be emulated on Nvidia GPUs (2 shifts + 1 add). This alone gives AMD another 1.7x performance advantage (~1900 instructions instead of ~3250 to execute the SHA-256 compression function).

Combined together, these 2 factors make AMD GPUs overall 3x-5x faster when mining Bitcoins. (https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Why_a_GPU_mines_faster_than_a_CPU)

About chanmingman

Since March 2011 Microsoft Live Spaces migrated to Wordpress (http://www.pcworld.com/article/206455/Microsoft_Live_Spaces_Moves_to_WordPress_An_FAQ.html) till now, I have is over 1 million viewers. This blog is about more than 50% telling you how to resolve error messages, especial for Microsoft products. The blog also has a lot of guidance teaching you how to get stated certain Microsoft technologies. The blog also uses as a help to keep my memory. The blog is never meant to give people consulting services or silver bullet solutions. It is a contribution to the community. Thanks for your support over the years. Ming Man is Microsoft MVP since year 2006. He is a software development manager for a multinational company. With 25 years of experience in the IT field, he has developed system using Clipper, COBOL, VB5, VB6, VB.NET, Java and C #. He has been using Visual Studio (.NET) since the Beta back in year 2000. He and the team have developed many projects using .NET platform such as SCM, and HR based applications. He is familiar with the N-Tier design of business application and is also an expert with database experience in MS SQL, Oracle and AS 400.
This entry was posted in Community, Computers and Internet and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why are AMD GPUs faster than Nvidia GPUs?

  1. Pingback: Why are AMD GPUs faster than Nvidia GPUs? | Chanmingman's Blog | Bitcoin News Bits - CoinBits.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s