How not to embarrass yourself when writing about mining (or anything else)

Disclosure: I work with but I am not writing in any official capacity or with any proprietary knowledge. You should mine with Flexpool, but it’s not mandatory.

Disclaimer: Hashrate rental can be expensive and unprofitable if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you do know what you’re doing and can manage your risk, check out Nicehash and MiningRigRentals and maybe you too can embarrass the tech media. (Referral links may earn me a little bit.)

This morning, some “news” pieces came out in some of the tech press. Not the big names most people have heard of, but venues with some reach and some expectation of basic knowledge.

The headline from notebookcheck dot net

The “story” was that some unreleased and possibly even non-existent GPUs were mining to Flexpool, the number 5 Ethereum mining pool in the world This sounds pretty amazing, even unbelievable, although after the April 1, 2021 Captains Workspace reveal video on the “RTX 4090” you realize some people will believe anything.

The evidence? High hashrate and workers named “4090TI-Overclock-Test,” “RX7000-Control-Test,” and “RX7000-Overclock-Test.”

The “story” got a lot of coverage, starting at wccftech, spreading to Notebook Check and Digital Trends, and later with a bit more justifiable incredulity from Windows Central and TechRadar. Also seen at TweakTown after this was originally posted.

A couple of these mention later in the article, after breathless references to the scale and/or specs of the cards named and the vast amounts of Ethereum that could be mined by these farms, that it’s unlikely.

How could this happen?

Have you ever seen a non-BMW with a M3 badge, or a non-Toyota with a TRL decal? Then you know how this could happen. But let’s go into a bit more detail.

When you configure a cryptocurrency mining rig, you’re running a miner[1], or mining program, to control the GPU or CPU and do the calculations that contribute to the blockchain and your rewards. One of the parameters to the miner program is an optional Worker or Rig name. This is used to identify the rig to the mining pool you use, and to any monitoring tools you may use outside the pool.

Some people choose obvious names, like “nvidia-rig-1” or “spare-bedroom-4” or “rig01” which are identifying while not being too exciting.

There are no rules or regulations around these names, and you can put just about anything in there. Want to call your rig JensenHuangAMDRig1? Sure, go for it. That doesn’t mean the CEO and founder of NVIDIA is running a mining rig at all, much less an AMD rig. Want to call it 1millionRTX4090s? No problem, but that doesn’t mean that the RTX 4090 has been released, or that 1 million of them exist, or that you’ve ever even seen or touched one. Maybe a 1GH rig called “Voodoo4” (a 3DFX video card launched at the turn of the century)? No problem at all, but you’re not going to even get a 32MB GPU to start a miner, much less get any hashrate out of it.

The worker or rig name is a label or nickname for a mining rig, and it has no awareness or connection to the actual hardware in your rig. And to answer a question that was asked on at least one or two mining venues this morning, no, it’s not illegal to name your rig something that it isn’t.

Now the miner[1] who is running these workers probably just wondered if something obviously fictitious like this would be taken seriously. It was, far more than it deserved, and I suspect the people behind it are laughing, perhaps even literally ROFL at how much it spread.

Later in the day, they changed the names to cause even more rabid excitement:

The Lovelace AD102 is NVIDIA’s new 5nm GPU “chip,” as seen in rumors and leaks going back to December 2020. The 32g RDNA3 MCM is a new AMD design from about the same time believed to be driving the next generation of AMD GPUs. So whoever is behind this farm knows their GPU details, or can do some basic Googling to troll the tech blogs.

Wait, basic Googling?

That’s the secret to coherent non-clickbaity crypto coverage, if you don’t know your way around cryptocurrency, and in fact it’s pretty useful for any topic you might be trying to cover without knowing what you’re talking about. We all have to start learning somewhere.

A search for “mining rig name,” for example, turns up some useful results.

I know that some publications are actually interested in getting the story right and miss once in a while – many much larger outlets have been known to fall for trolls and hoaxes with full-time professional staff who should know better for a living. So a publication with a much smaller staff and budget could be forgiven for missing one, but they should know better.

Those publications who are more interested in clicks and ad impressions than accurate or reliable reporting, well… I don’t have much to say for them, but there are a lot of them out there too.

So where do we go from here?

I’m going to watch for where this operator goes next with the names. I expect they do not actually possess any of the hardware named in the worker names, and I’m kinda hoping they do go with a name like Voodoo4 or GTX1030 or maybe GMX_A4500_Watercool_Overclock.

I’m also going to suggest that breathless tech writers take a breath and try a search engine before writing something that truly seems too good to be true, whether it’s a miner with multiple unreleased GPUs, the Intel Xeon Supermongo 9001 1024-core 16384-thread laptop CPU, or anything announced on April 1 in the source’s local time (except maybe Gmail; that turned out to be real)

Featured photo: My new “TenThousandDGXA100s” mining rig

[1] The naming in the cryptocurrency world can be confusing, in that a “miner” might be a person or organization operating mining equipment, the equipment that does the mining, or the program running on that equipment that executes the mining. “Worker” is a more specific term, but they’re often used interchangeably (like “break-even” and “ROI”). Rig is even more clear, as a rig (i.e. a motherboard with an OS and a mining program) could have more than one worker (i.e. a mining program for NVIDIA GPUs, a mining program for AMD GPUs, and even a mining program for CPU-based mining like Raptoreum or Monero. Throw in a Chia farmer/harvester and that one rig could have four workers running four miners working on a miner for a miner. Throw in a translation out of English and it’s even more confusing.

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