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Mining Litecoins: ZedBoard or Raspberry Pi?

Posted: 23 Dec 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Bitcoins? crypto currencies? Zynq? ZedBoard? Raspberry Pi?

Unlike Bitcoins, which measure performance in MH/s (mega hashes per second) and upwards, the difficulty of the scrypt algorithm used by Litecoins make KH/s (kilo hashes per second) quite normal for Litecoin mining. While running the mining program, the Zedboard achieved about 0.46KH/s per processor, or 0.93KH/s total, and blocks of work were being accepted by the pool.

Based on my earlier calculations, I was obviously expecting the Raspberry Pi to be slower than the ZedBoard. In fact, I was anticipating that it would be around three to four times slower overall when you consider the difference in DMIPS and the number of processors, but I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. Once the Raspberry Pi was up and running, sure enough it was returning about 0.32KH/s, which is about a third of what the ZedBoard was achieving.

Figure 3: Block found on the ZedBoard.

Figure 4: Running Litecoin mining on the Raspberry Pi.

However, although it did take a while for the ZedBoard to have a block accepted by the mining, at least the block was accepted. At the time of this writing, the Raspberry Pi has been running for more than 24 hours and still has not had a block accepted, which means it has not generated any contribution to my mining account.

So what does all of this show? Well, it confirms my initial assertion that it would take a substantial time for either the Zynq or the Raspberry Pi to mine a Litecoin using only traditional CPUs to perform the processing. On the bright side, I did pass an interesting afternoon setting everything up. This experiment also confirms my expectations that the Zynq would achieve substantially faster KH/s rates than the Raspberry Pi. What I wasn't expecting was the fact that the cpuminer program running on the Raspberry Pi would fail to have a block accepted. This will require some further investigation.

The really interesting point is thatin addition to its dual ARM Cortex-A9 processor coresthe Zynq All Programmable SoC also includes a significant quantity of high-performance programmable FPGA fabric. This means that we have the ability to offload complex calculations from the processors into the programmable fabric to speed things up. Maybe my next experiment (if I have any spare time one weekend) will be to see how using the programmable fabric to offload the processor cores can increase the hash rate. Would you be interested in my performing this experiment?

About the author
Adam Taylor is the Head of Engineering Systems at E2V.

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