The NVIDIA Tesla P4 is an attractive GPU for a variety of reasons for Chia farming. It can also plot fairly decent speeds. Some of the specs on the Tesla P4 that make this an interesting option include the 8GB of VRAM on the card, its small form factor size and the fact it does not require more than a bus power supply, no 6 or 8 pin needed. That makes this an ideal format for every type of computer. This card was utilized as a Pascal generation ML card for datacenter operations. It’s also cheap. This leads to the biggest issue, however, the need for high airflow in a system to keep the card cooled during operation. This can be achieved with a strap on fan on top of the card, a 3d printed shroud, or a server with fans spinning high.
Tesla P4 Strengths
- 256 bit bus
- 8GB VRAM
- 2560 Cores
- Can be overclocked
- Very low wattage when decompressing plots
Tesla P4 Weaknesses
- Passively cooled
- Often ships from China and can take weeks to arrive
- Old and in need of re-padding
- Runaway thermals can stall a Chia Farm
Best Chia GPU Plotting Use Case
This GPU is well suited to plotting in the 9-11 minute range for a specific type of farmer. Ideally this creates plots at the write speed of a chia plot to mechanical hard drive speeds at typical speeds. This also is possibly a good card for a small form factor farmer that has a smaller desktop case that may not have extra PSU power pins. I am not actively plotting with this GPU, but I have produced valid plots with it.
Best Chia GPU Farming Use Cases
The ability to decompress Chia plots with the Tesla P4 is something that I have been evaluating a lot. I have currently grown around 800 TiB of Chia plots based off the Gigahorse platform at compression level C8 and am farming them with this GPU alone. It does theoretically scale to handle a farm size of 1PiB+ (raw space) in C8, but is ideally suited for a lower level of compression above or close to the 1PiB range. If you are a sub 1PiB farmer, this is not a bad choice in GPU for farming with the filter at 512. When the filter gets cut, there will be double the workload for the GPU, and at that point a 500TiB farm would be more ideal. At the proposed intervals that is a very decent runway of time for a sub 500TiB farmer.
Heat is very real concern. When the temperatures hit 85C on the card, it will thermally throttle down the base 1113MHz to in the 500s. This will create a backlog of work for the card and impact the ability to farm and result in delayed partials to a pool and replies to challenges outside the acceptable time scope. Keeping the card cool at any amount of chia being farmed therefor is critical. The best solution for a desktop or tower form factor user does appear to be zip tie a fan onto the screw mounts on the heatsink. Here is a YT short on someone doing this.
There are also a few options to buy a 3D printed shroud for this or you could print one (and sell it for cheaper and clean up).
You should re-pad the P4 when you get it. These have been in service for many years at this point and they can use a fresh set of thermals. Also make sure you get the support bracket that is correct for your size slot, HH or FH.
If you have a 6pin or 8 pin connector PSU and a tower form factor, you should consider a 1070 which is in the same price range and does have an advantage of consistent thermals as it has fans.
If you are after a cheap GPU and have one of the above outlined restrictions, especially the lack of PSU GPU 8 or 6 pin power, the Tesla P4 could be a good card. It also is a very attractive card for its very small power footprint. It hits around 55w max from my watching. The fact it fits into any format a GPU could conceivably be in is also a huge benefit. I have been using mine and will continue to until it becomes unable to operate at C8 levels as I grow the farm past the size it can handle. That said, this card has also caused me a lot of farming issues and downtime as I turn down the fan levels to record in the garage and have forgotten twice now to turn them back up. The end result always being runaway thermals without the ability to recover on its own. Plot scans can play havoc on the card, so I would adjust them to less frequent as well. I think this is a great budget/low wattage option but, overall, I will be moving onto a different card for my farming at some point. When I do, I will update this article with a repadding video and a bunch of testing around the card’s capacities.