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Author Topic: Introduction and Question about FPGA  (Read 623 times)
Andynerd
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January 26, 2013, 09:16:00 PM
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Well I am brand new at this whole Bitcoin and Bitcoin Mining thing. I've been running for about two days now and have had a lot of fun doing it!

My actual question was pertaining to FPGA's I've been looking around at them and I've seen the rph thread and all the wonderful goodies that people have been working on and putting together. Though the more I look the more I notice that FPGA is not very hobbyist friendly, it seems the learning curve for diving into it is quite high. My question was pertaining to what features of a FPGA circuit offer better hash rates. Is it the amount of throughput/bandwidth between buses, the amount of logic blocks, can chips that are both logic block and gate be used to process hashes, does the amount of ram factor in, etc etc. I am shopping around for FPGA dev boards and hell I'd be willing to even build one, although I am new to FPGA I have quite a bit of electrical experience (mechatronics eng school woohoo).

From browsing the forums it seems like the favourite around here is the Spartan-6 lx150.

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Gabi
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January 26, 2013, 10:57:20 PM
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You are new and you think mining is a get rich quick scheme? You are totally wrong. Also ASIC should arrive soon, buying a fpga today isn't exactly a good idea
Andynerd
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January 26, 2013, 11:14:30 PM
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You are new and you think mining is a get rich quick scheme? You are totally wrong. Also ASIC should arrive soon, buying a fpga today isn't exactly a good idea

Excuse me? I never thought that for a second! I just like the computer science behind it. I like the idea because it is kind of reminiscent of the 'credits' system in all those sci-fi's I love. The thing about the FPGA is more of an interest, again I just love electronics and needed something to motivate me into FPGA and parallel computing like bit mining and folding@home looks to be that thing. Hell I am running my computer as a miner right now because I just wanted to contribute and have some fun! Also I'm aware ASIC is entering the market but as I said above I just want to try FPGA for fun and would like to learn about it.

I'm sorry if something about my post put you off but your response was a little rude. I'm just excited by things like this.

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robot_boy
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January 26, 2013, 11:24:05 PM
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I think that a lot of people just get worried about miners attempting to use old designs when they are going to prove a losing proposition for those attempting to make money doing it. I honestly think that he was attempting to look out for your best interests and advise you that if your plan was to make money that was not the way to go about it. I would also like to hear the answer to your question as it is still valuable. Even if the rigs no longer produce the profit they might once have the intellectual puzzle of how to get the most out of them is still interesting. It is like wondering how to make the best wind up clock. Sure we have much better things out, but it is still interesting to think about. Unfortunately I can not really give any useful information on the topic. I hope that someone comes by to answer and I wish you luck in your endeavors to work on it.
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January 26, 2013, 11:24:43 PM
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Gabi wasn't trying to be rude.  Blunt is more likely we see lots of similar posts pretty much on a daily basis.

ASICs will utterly destroy the economics of FPGA.  This isn't like Intel making a new CPU which is 2x as powerful and uses 30% less electricity then current CPU it would be like Intel releasing a processor which is 5000% as powerful and uses 90% less electricity.

If you really want to mess around with FPGA you can look to buy a development board and licenses for software necessary to create and flash bitstreams.  Understand that it is going to cost you hundreds of dollars (thousands for higher end FPGA) and you have absolutely no chance of making anything which will be profitable.   Most Bitcoin mining boards use the Spartan 6 series FPGA (Xilinx XC6SLX150) not because it is particularly powerful but because it is pretty much the cheapest FPGA on a LUTS/$ scale.

Honestly FPGA is a complete dead end.  If you want to do something interesting using electronics skills look to build a "hardware wallet" which can keep private keys secure from a compromised general purpose computer.  Not only is that far more interesting but it has the potential to generate revenue.
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January 26, 2013, 11:34:49 PM
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What i tried to avoid is that you mistakenly think to become rich via mining and spend tons of money in mining equip and then you realize that you made the wrong choice. Better safe than sorry!
Andynerd
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January 26, 2013, 11:49:24 PM
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  If you want to do something interesting using electronics skills look to build a "hardware wallet" which can keep private keys secure from a compromised general purpose computer. 

OMG Cheesy THAT SOUNDS FREAKING INTERESTING.

I still seriously want to dive into FPGA's because it's a great skill to have and it fits within my person skill set (so I assume) I love electronics but didn't like mechanics so i left engineering for computer science after a year and a half.

Plus I loved the post in custom hardware about starting an ASIC design group and well, FPGA is an important part to prototyping and developing ASICs

It would be interesting to use an FPGA to generate a cryptographic key to access and modify funds, create adresses at the push of a button, and of course a blockchain comparison /decryptor. It might need as much horsepower as a miner. Tongue

What i tried to avoid is that you mistakenly think to become rich via mining and spend tons of money in mining equip and then you realize that you made the wrong choice. Better safe than sorry!

I apologise, I was feeling extremely self concious about my post as if I had asked something rather stupid. So the bluntness of the first reply out of 60+ views kind of startled me.

I think that a lot of people just get worried about miners attempting to use old designs when they are going to prove a losing proposition for those attempting to make money doing it. I honestly think that he was attempting to look out for your best interests and advise you that if your plan was to make money that was not the way to go about it. I would also like to hear the answer to your question as it is still valuable. Even if the rigs no longer produce the profit they might once have the intellectual puzzle of how to get the most out of them is still interesting. It is like wondering how to make the best wind up clock. Sure we have much better things out, but it is still interesting to think about. Unfortunately I can not really give any useful information on the topic. I hope that someone comes by to answer and I wish you luck in your endeavors to work on it.

Now that I think about it my question is more directed at FPGAMiners architecture for his code. I wanted to know if, in the process of processing hash's the logic block was used or if the commands are mostly boolean comparisons. Since getting multiple logic gates is extremely cheap (500k for 30 bucks) but only cover boolean operations OR, AND, XOR etc etc, while Logic block tables, which are much more expensive cover most logic operations within them not just boolean operations.

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sounds
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January 26, 2013, 11:58:00 PM
 #8

There's just a constant stream of people signing up and saying, "so how do I make money with this mining thing?!" Smiley
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