Ukrainian law enforcement shut down a cryptofarm of 3,800 PS4s

Soupreme

Posts: 34   +2
Staff
WTF?! On Thursday the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) reported that they had shut down a cryptomining operation in the city of Vinnytsia, seizing over 500 GPUs and 50 processors -- and a bunch of Playstation 4s. Consoles built on 2013-era technology might not be great at mining, but they don't need to be when you have 3,800 of them.

Although the market for GPUs is starting to improve, and dedicated ASICs might be on the way to relieve demand, it seems that one group of enterprising cryptocurrency miners have turned to last-gen console hardware to get things done.

From the photos provided by the SSU, it looks like these consoles are of the PS4 Slim variety, the 2016 refresh of the original console from three years prior. Mostly obsolete for newer games, it's not at all surprising that so many could be sourced en masse so easily.

Still, while the PS4 Slim ran more efficiently than the baseline PS4 thanks to a node shrink on the APU, it wasn't any faster. It's hard to estimate what kind of performance you could get on a console jury-rigged to mine cryptocurrency, but the GPU in the PS4 Pro is a lower-powered derivative of the silicon in AMD's RX 480 -- and that card's higher-clocking refresh, the RX 580, was found by Tom's Hardware to be a pretty inefficient card for Ethereum mining these days, even when tuned.

On the other hand, Ethereum mining is often more dependent on memory bandwidth than compute performance, and there the base PS4 and Slim manage 176 GB/s with their 8 GB of shared GDDR5. That's less than the 217.6 GB/s of the Pro model, and the 256 GB/s of their desktop counterparts, but not as far behind as it is in other metrics such as TFLOPS often cited in console-related debates.

Either way, it's almost certain that the miners were using the PS4 for its pricing and availability rather than speed nor efficiency, especially given the vast number of consoles in use. Plus, like some previously busted mining operations, they were stealing electricity from the Vinnytsia power grid, so power usage was unlikely to be a concern.

Permalink to story.

 

brucek

Posts: 856   +1,227
I don't know anything about management of electrical grids - but is it really realistic to expect you can introduce a new load of this magnitude and not have someone or something notice?
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 936   +1,728
I bet these were either stolen or embezzled and probably the power has some sort of illegal or loophole connection.

I think only at that point it becomes feasible given such old tech and ROI

What's interesting is that this kind of looks like the future: even if big financial institutions back away from legitimizing cryptos, organized crime will keep em around in whatever form possible simply because it's such a convenient way to launder and transfer so we might see more of these dumpster diving operations around, specially if prices fall/crash and more professional miners lose interest.
 

3volv3d

Posts: 396   +202
Is crypto mining completely illegal there?

If not, was all that hardware stolen?

Or the crime was stealing electricity?

IKR... Da fuq?
This article is like Lost. Makes you think 100 questions with no answers.

Some nutjob uses outdatdled hardware to mine a made up BS currency and gets in trouble.

I am confuzzled.
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 879   +1,642
Last sentence of the article: "they were stealing electricity from the Vinnytsia power grid"

headline is thus maybe a little misleading, the crime that was busted here was stealing electricity.

Thanks.

Either that was added after I read the article a couple of times or I am really blind.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,488   +2,865
TechSpot Elite
Is crypto mining completely illegal there?

If not, was all that hardware stolen?

Or the crime was stealing electricity?
IKR... Da fuq?
This article is like Lost. Makes you think 100 questions with no answers.

Some nutjob uses outdatdled hardware to mine a made up BS currency and gets in trouble.

I am confuzzled.
Last sentence of the article: "they were stealing electricity from the Vinnytsia power grid"

headline is thus maybe a little misleading, the crime that was busted here was stealing electricity.
Yeah, that "stealing electricity" part should've been led with. I was ready to ask the same question until I read the last line.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,286   +3,362
Hah, he could probably get one decent modern GPU and get the same hashrate as four thousand PS4s while also using less power.
 

Achaios

Posts: 188   +529
I don't know anything about management of electrical grids - but is it really realistic to expect you can introduce a new load of this magnitude and not have someone or something notice?

That's UKR we're talkin' about here.

Imagine Soviet Russia a few months after Yeltsin came in power only worse.

Every govt agency is corrupt, every law enforcement agency is corrupt, the country's currency is just a bunch of toilet paper and everybody prefers USD or EUR.

I imagine this was run by the local maf and there were several local govt officials and law enforcent involved who were on the take.

I have personal experience of UKR and I don't want ever to set foot there again, not even dead.
 
Is crypto mining completely illegal there?

If not, was all that hardware stolen?

Or the crime was stealing electricity?
Not even slim piece of evidance of the crime. Some people decided to grow a pair and refused to pay a ransom, so somebody wasn't happy and decided to teach a lesson. That would happen with any other hardware no matter how legal or illegal was whole opperation.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,718   +2,024
TechSpot Elite
"Plus, like some previously busted mining operations, they were stealing electricity from the Vinnytsia power grid, so power usage was unlikely to be a concern."
Heh, I was wondering all through the article "Why was it seized in the first place?"
 

WithoutAnyMilk

Posts: 30   +11
Imagine the noise that a single PS4 makes when it's running a resource-intensive game. Now imagine 3,800 of them running in the same room!
 

3volv3d

Posts: 396   +202
Imagine the noise that a single PS4 makes when it's running a resource-intensive game. Now imagine 3,800 of them running in the same room!
You know this s*** best be working in rest mode in the background. Or this is more likely how they got caught out.
Noise complaints.