WTF ?! On Thursday, Ukraine’s security service (SSU) reported that they had shut down a cryptocurrency mining operation in the city of Vinnytsia and seized over 500 GPUs and 50 processors – and a bunch of Playstation 4s. Consoles built on 2013-era technology may not be good for mining, but they do not have to be when you have 3,800 of them.
While the market for GPUs is starting to improve, and dedicated ASICs may be on the way to easing demand, it seems that a group of enterprising cryptocurrency miners have turned to the latest generation of console hardware to get things done.
From the photos provided by SSU, it appears that these consoles are of the PS4 Slim variety, the 201
Still, while the PS4 Slim ran more efficiently than the baseline PS4 thanks to a node shrinkage on the APU, it was not faster. It’s hard to estimate what kind of performance you can get on a console jury rig to extract cryptocurrency, but the GPU in PS4 Pro is a lower powered derivative of silicon in AMD’s RX 480 – and in short higher– Clocking update, RX 580, was found by Tom’s Hardware as a rather inefficient card for Ethereum mining these days, even when tuned.
On the other hand, Ethereum mining is often more dependent on memory bandwidth than computing performance, and the base PS4 and Slim manage 176 GB / s with their 8 GB shared GDDR5. That’s less than 217.6 GB / s of the Pro model and 256 GB / s of their desktop counterparts, but not as far behind as it is in other metrics like TFLOPS, which are often cited in console-related debates.
Either way, it’s almost certain that miners used the PS4 for its price and availability rather than speed or efficiency, especially given the large number of consoles in use. Plus, like some previously destroyed mines, they stole electricity from the Vinnytsia power grid, so power consumption was probably not an issue.