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Saturday 27 May 2017
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OpenCL vs OpenGL for Mining

By: Vivek Nair and Alexander Merricks

As we witness the evolution of the creation of digital assets via the birth of the virtual currency world, it is critical to understand the foundation of what makes this innovation possible.

OpenGL is a scientific computing architecture that enables an individual to perform advanced scientific calculations using the higher floating point capacity of a graphics device. The only limitation of OpenGL is that the user will have to create a mechanism to convert the computing problem to a graphical context so that OpenGL can process the calculation.

Nvidia uses OpenCL based CUDA architecture on their devices to enable their GPU hardware to be used for applications other than graphical rendering and gaming. The GPU has been used more often for scientific computing, such as Open CUDA-enabled graphical cards which possess enhanced computing possibilities due to their increased ability to handle floating points.

The solutions that arose from these innovations lead to the development of newer breeds of GPUs and FPGAs. The topic at hand discusses how the application of this newer breed of GPUs is applied for digital currency mining. The changes that these advancements have brought about made possible the implementation of OpenCL and OpenGL digital currency miners.

With OpenCL, the calculations are computed as a floating point, but in case of OpenGL, these calculations are computed by converting these calculations into scalar images which are then computed by the GPU as just another graphical calculation. OpenCL is based on an earlier ancestor named GPGPU, a system that is based on the application Nvidia engineers and architects created which includes other firms. This solution was used by the digital mining revolution which started with Bitcoin and now includes over 300 different currencies. It has matured beyond GPU’s and FPGA’s with the onset of the ASICS, and we are seeing the digital currency world grow leaps and bounds.

The technology that has created the solutions for this phenomenal change in the same way that money has been perceived, has been created by OpenCL and OpenGL. The developers of Bitcoin, who began this revolution in 2009, initially started with the OpenGL based miners, gradually moving into Nvidia’s hardware which was less expensive than its AMD-based graphics cards counterparts. This attracted the attention of developers and they implemented OpenCL / CUDA based miners. These were less expensive and more cost efficient for digital currency mining processes. This brought about a greater acceptance of this digital currency and its many successors.

Technologically, OpenCL is faster and superior than OpenGL with respect to digital currency mining as it doesn’t have to convert the mathematical logics into graphical data, which saves a lot of time and reduces the computation usage. A Nvidia based miner for Litecoin (a successful successor of Bitcoin) is about 55% cheaper than its AMD-based successor.

This article has relevance in present time since understanding the concepts of OpenCL and OpenGL enables miners and programers to develop solutions for their ASICS. The collective knowledge and collective involvement is responsible for bringing about the success of digital currencies.

With any new technology, there will be obstacles that have to be overcome. OpenCL and OpenGL open the door to future applications beyond the current mining aspects. The integration of gaming and mining will lead to new ways of providing access for high-level graphics and rendering capabilities. As we move forward, monetizing digital assets in the 21st century will become a more intelligent and efficient process. If we use these architectures and move forward in this manner, the options available are endless.

Cosmic HQ

Vivek Nair and Alexander Merricks are the founders of Cosmic HQ. They provide integration of digital currencies and consulting on the SHA 2 protocol and similar cryptographic algorithms.