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Author Topic: Looking for system integrators for new asic  (Read 21771 times)
helveticoin
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February 23, 2013, 11:10:02 PM
Last edit: February 26, 2013, 08:16:18 AM by helveticoin
 #1

update
 
We hoped to get in touch with at least a few new viable companies with the right competences and exposure to bitcoin, but we are frankly overwhelmed by the amount and quality of responses we have received so far.  We are more convinced than ever that this is the correct business approach to minimize our risks, guarantee proper execution and allow end users a choice of supplier and implementation.

However,  we also believe its in no one's interest to have too many partners duplicating their engineering and marketing efforts and killing each others margins. Therefore, we will review all current applications and new ones we may yet receive this week, and somewhere next week (first week of March), we will select and contact a few companies we deem to be best positioned to start formal negotiations with.

Original post follows.


Hello,

We are looking for system integrators to help bring to market another ASIC-based bitcoin miner.  Partners will be supplied with packaged and tested high performance ASICs, all technical specifications, a reference design for the PCB and early software. We expect our partners to implement or customize our PCB design, perform or oversee the PCB assembly, system design, manufacturing and assembly of the end-user devices, handle sales, marketing, logistics and after sales support.  We may also require some help with the software, but we are looking to contract someone for that.

About our ASIC

Our currently unnamed bitcoin mining chip taped out last October; we (ab)used spare estate on our 28nm SOI MLM test wafers we were running at ST Microelectronics. Several successful wafer test runs have been conducted since, and as a result, we currently have a limited number of functional chips that can be supplied for testing and validation.  We are about to sign a deal that allows us to produce these chips in volume. Packaged chips are expected to start arriving in volume in June of this year.

Since we use state of the art 28nm SOI technology, our chip is quite significantly more power efficient and higher performing than anything currently announced or shipping.  The downside of our technology is that we require expensive wafers and we are using a multi layer mask, so our per chip production costs are likely higher than our competitors. But since no one else is selling asics, and no one has a product that can match our specifications, we can assure prospective partners that our per chip prices will be low enough to allow them to compete very favorably in all relevant metrics with current known suppliers and that we have more than enough margin to follow aggressive price cuts that we expect will happen over the course of this year.  I realize this is vague, but we will release exact performance data and cost estimates under NDA to prospective partners. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Performance and costs aside, one other notable feature of our chip is that each one integrates an ARM Cortex M3 core which is fully capable of running linux and mining software. Our reference design board provides up to 256 MB RAM, USB, ethernet and Sdcard controllers allowing each board to mine without needing a host.  Our reference board hosts only one mining asic, but even a single chip is more capable than most competing multi chip solutions. We currently have no design for multi chip boards, but its entirely possible for partners to design a PCB that will hold many ASICs, without duplicating all the IO. The chips are designed to be used as slaves, although we have not yet tested this in hardware.

We currently have one integrator that has committed to bringing our chip to market, but we are looking for at least 3 more. Our prices will be the same for every partner, and will vary only with quantity.

About  us

I represent a small team of highly skilled engineers with decades of experience in developing custom soc's for embedded and mobile applications. Unlike our competition, we realize we dont have the skills, time, resources or expertise to go from silicon to end user satisfaction. Thats why we decided to find partners who can complement our skills and provide the mining market with more choice and competition.

We are in the process of setting up a GmbH under swiss law, but we prefer to remain out of the spotlight to avoid our non bitcoin customers perceiving conflicts of interest. Obviously any partners will get to know exactly who we are.  We can arrange meetings and demo's in Switzerland or France.

If you are interested in partnering with us, contact me helveticoin at gmail dot com and please provide some information to help us judge your ability to integrate our chip in a consumer product. Large scale mining operations are also welcome to inquire, but do realize you will face non trivial technical challenges and costs to develop a functional miner,  and we will require minimum quantities. Technical and financial details will be provided under NDA only.

I will try to occasionally answer questions on this forum, but serious inquiries should be sent by email.

Regards,

Helveticoin

(I would appreciate if this post could be moved from newbies to custom hardware and getting whitelisted so i can respond to questions)
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helveticoin
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February 24, 2013, 09:09:15 AM
 #2

(reserved for aaq)
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February 24, 2013, 12:34:14 PM
 #3

Hello,

We are looking for system integrators to help bring to market another ASIC-based bitcoin miner.  ...

This is awesome.  I can't do this but I know two people who would be great at this.  Either one has shown great ability at getting a business started and generating large sales.  Tom in particular has a proven business assembling and marketing PCB designs.  Give them a call:

Thomas Van Riper
tom@devcoin.org
(315) 514-0269
Prior successful business: https://www.btcfpga.com/

Trendon Shavers
tshavers@buscog.com
(214) 856-4386
Prior successful business: http://btcst.com, http://www.gpumax.com
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February 24, 2013, 12:58:01 PM
 #4

Hello,

We are looking for system integrators to help bring to market another ASIC-based bitcoin miner.  ...

This is awesome.  I can't do this but I know two people who would be great at this.  Either one has shown great ability at getting a business started and generating large sales.  Tom in particular has a proven business assembling and marketing PCB designs.  Give them a call:

Thomas Van Riper
tom@devcoin.org
(315) 514-0269
Prior successful business: https://www.btcfpga.com/

Trendon Shavers
tshavers@buscog.com
(214) 856-4386
Prior successful business: http://btcst.com, http://www.gpumax.com


Lol Grin

To which address do I tip BTC?
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February 24, 2013, 01:14:10 PM
 #5

I can act as bounty hunter in case they don't deliver Cheesy Tongue Good luck with your business.

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February 24, 2013, 01:47:37 PM
 #6

Since we use state of the art 28nm SOI technology, our chip is quite significantly more power efficient and higher performing than anything currently announced or shipping.  The downside of our technology is that we require expensive wafers and we are using a multi layer mask, so our per chip production costs are likely higher than our competitors. But since no one else is selling asics, and no one has a product that can match our specifications, we can assure prospective partners that our per chip prices will be low enough to allow them to compete very favorably in all relevant metrics with current known suppliers and that we have more than enough margin to follow aggressive price cuts that we expect will happen over the course of this year.  I realize this is vague, but we will release exact performance data and cost estimates under NDA to prospective partners. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The most important metric in current market is not power efficiency (Hash/J), but simply price per Hash/s. Sounds like you are far behind the competitors.
Another detail to note is that your professionally written call for partners is posted in a fucking internet forum. Any group of graduate students in Switzerland would be a better place to look for the solution you need, not to mention simple advertisement on a professional Website or in a journal, or even LinkedIn. I suspect this has got something to do with users of this forum having a proven competitive advantage compared to other groups I listed when it comes to sending advance payments to random story-tellers.


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February 24, 2013, 01:53:34 PM
 #7

...

Our currently unnamed bitcoin mining chip taped out last October; we (ab)used spare estate on our 28nm SOI MLM test wafers we were running at ST Microelectronics. Several successful wafer test runs have been conducted since, and as a result, we currently have a limited number of functional chips that can be supplied for testing and validation.  We are about to sign a deal that allows us to produce these chips in volume. Packaged chips are expected to start arriving in volume in June of this year.
...


Why not to look at these great 28nm chips first?  Cool

NO PSAKING!
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February 24, 2013, 01:59:42 PM
 #8

...

Our currently unnamed bitcoin mining chip taped out last October; we (ab)used spare estate on our 28nm SOI MLM test wafers we were running at ST Microelectronics. Several successful wafer test runs have been conducted since, and as a result, we currently have a limited number of functional chips that can be supplied for testing and validation.  We are about to sign a deal that allows us to produce these chips in volume. Packaged chips are expected to start arriving in volume in June of this year.
...


Why not to look at these great 28nm chips first?  Cool

Because

We currently have one integrator that has committed to bringing our chip to market, but we are looking for at least 3 more. Our prices will be the same for every partner, and will vary only with quantity.

They're there, in their room.
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February 24, 2013, 02:22:46 PM
 #9

Hello,

We are looking for system integrators to help bring to market another ASIC-based bitcoin miner.  ...

This is awesome.  I can't do this but I know two people who would be great at this.  Either one has shown great ability at getting a business started and generating large sales.  Tom in particular has a proven business assembling and marketing PCB designs.  Give them a call:

Thomas Van Riper
tom@devcoin.org
(315) 514-0269
Prior successful business: https://www.btcfpga.com/

Trendon Shavers
tshavers@buscog.com
(214) 856-4386
Prior successful business: http://btcst.com, http://www.gpumax.com


Lol Grin

To which address do I tip BTC?

Wow.  I've never been tipped before.  15BRMpNev4p264f1M3npns7VfB1BFTWzf7 will do.
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February 24, 2013, 04:16:08 PM
 #10

Performance and costs aside, one other notable feature of our chip is that each one integrates an ARM Cortex M3 core which is fully capable of running linux and mining software.
This is a very serious design mistake to mix up the hashing units and their controller on a single chip.

The primary problem is that anytime there is a internal miscompare detected it is impossible to distinguish the hasher failure from the controller failure. Therefore the whole design will have to be run at a fixed voltage and fixed frequency far away from the limits of the 28nm manufacturing process.

In addition to the above problem you'll suffer from the standard problems of manufacturing a chip containing complex circuitry like a SOC:

1) relatively low yield when compared to a repetitive chip like hashers,
2) you'll actually have to develop and pay for proper test of each manufactured chip unlike the hashers that are pretty much self-testing,

Finally, Cortex-M architecture doesn't run normal Linux because of the lack of the MMU that is included in Cortex-A chips that are popular tragets for Linux on ARM. It is possible to run some cut-down Linux on the MPU that is available in Cortex-M processors.

On the positive side Cortex-M is more resilient than Cortex-A in the presence of power-supply ripple and the extremes of the chip temperatures. The first circuitry to fail when overclocking/undervolting ARM is the MMU. So you'll be able to live somewhat closer to the edge of the process.

I represent a small team of highly skilled engineers with decades of experience in developing custom soc's for embedded and mobile applications.
Another example of why decades of experience are no match for one year of clear thinking.

I doubt that the hasher portion of the chip has enough connectivity to the pins to be able to run it separately on a chip where Cortex-M3 failed the tests. But it may be possible to fill out all the available code memory of Cortex-M3 with multiple implementations of a trivial hasher driver that uses various instruction sequences. When the CPU portion of the chip fails it may still execute properly only some of the instructions or the code where every other instruction is a NOP.

The last time I had information about per-instruction failure rates was for Intel 80386 chips. An example of permanent manufacturing failure: certain 32-bit multiplications failed. If you only used 16-bit multiply everything was working fine. An example of temporary failure due to overclocking/undervolting: POP SS failed. But if you had a code than never modified the stack segment register it would work fine, so the CPU was useable if the whole code&data fit within 64kB and the segment registers were never modified.

As a software developer you may be able to develop a similar set of rules and workarounds for Cortex-M. As a partner just design a large PCB where single Cortex-A SOC running proper Linux controls the multitude of those Cortex-M & hasher chips.

Please comment, critique, criticize or ridicule BIP 2112: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=54382.0
Long-term mining prognosis: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=91101.0
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February 24, 2013, 04:59:15 PM
 #11

First Id like to thank (most of) the people that contacted me via email. I will get back to you once I return to my office and after I got the green light from our legal counsel regarding the non disclosure agreements, then we can discuss how to move forward.

As for some of the comments on this forum; Im not sure I understand all the questions or remarks, but to clarify, we are not looking for funding. Our operation is fully funded. If anyone wants to see our chips, a demo can be arranged as mentioned above, but it will require you sign an NDA.

As for our competitiveness; our approach certainly isnt the cheapest, but unit production cost of asics is only a tiny fraction of current retail value of asic based miners, and is typically measured in single or low double digits.  So even if our chip cost 5x or 10x  more per GH than those of our colleagues (which it doesnt), our partners will have no trouble competing with other end user solutions.  Over time we expect retail prices to drop low enough for per chip production costs to become a handicap, but only after difficulty has increased tremendously. At that point power efficiency will again become a key selling point, and that is where we have our largest advantage,  so I feel we and our partners will be able to remain competitive no matter what for the foreseeable future.

Lastly, about our decision to implement an ARM core; this was driven primarily for reasons unrelated to bitcoin. One might even say we decided to add a bitcoin miner to some ARM test chips. However, this isnt a handicap.  Even though this tiny core clocks higher than you probably think, the core has its own clock domain and voltage plane. As I indicated earlier, the bitcoin miner can operate with or without the ARM core, and the latter only occupies a negligible portion of our transistor budget. It does use a more significant part of the IO connectors, but the flipside of that will be cheaper PCBs and overall  the chip still has a very low ball pitch.  In short; if you dont like it, just pretend it isnt there and feel free to add an external soc of your choosing.
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February 24, 2013, 05:39:04 PM
Last edit: February 24, 2013, 05:51:52 PM by 2112
 #12

As I indicated earlier, the bitcoin miner can operate with or without the ARM core, and the latter only occupies a negligible portion of our transistor budget.
OK, I apparently misunderstood what it meant to be a "slave chip".
The chips are designed to be used as slaves, although we have not yet tested this in hardware.
So, yaeh, if the "slave mode" actually works as advertised this may be a very competitive entry. The NRE costs are spread over multiple designs from the same European ASIC house. Just consider the entire Cortex-M3 a single large "defect" when estimating yield, because it only occupies a neglible portion of the chip area. I'm going to make an assumption that the designers were sane and they provided individual "clock enable" bits for the subregions of the hashing region of the chip so that the defect of a single hashing core doesn't disqualify a whole chip.

I always consider it a good sign when vendor gives a forthcoming and reasonable explanation for a misfeature or a drawback.

I wish good luck to everyone involved.

Edit: If you could answer one more question without an NDA: does the SoC have some analog circuitry to measure the temperature of the chip? Or at least there is some circuitry attached to some pin that will allow to build a temperature-to-leakage,leakage-to-time,time-to-digital termometer for the chip proper?

Thanks.

Please comment, critique, criticize or ridicule BIP 2112: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=54382.0
Long-term mining prognosis: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=91101.0
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February 24, 2013, 06:24:21 PM
 #13

At this rate you might beat BFL to market.

Dogie trust abuse, spam, bullying, conspiracy posts & insults to forum members. Ask the mods or admins to move Dogie's spam or off topic stalking posts to the link above.
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February 24, 2013, 06:47:50 PM
 #14

BFL is 65nm correct? So this chip would have (65/28)2= ~5.4x higher density. So all other things being equal, you would expect at least 5x the performance per mm2 or per wafer. Factor in SOI and higher clockspeeds and it might be 6-7-8x?  Ignoring fixed costs, how can this be more expensive per GH than BFL? Is SOI really that expensive?
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February 24, 2013, 06:53:56 PM
 #15

Ill be interesting funding or even buying bulk orders if you are saying is going to be competitive and very interested in getting in contact with you to have a chat.

If you are saying what is true, How long befor you have a website up with some product information pricing shipping etc?

=
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February 24, 2013, 07:27:53 PM
 #16

I'd be a willing beta tester,lol.

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February 24, 2013, 07:39:14 PM
 #17

Can you comment without an NDA on the design of the ASIC?
Do you use a rolled or unrolled design?
Is the hashing logic hand optimized or does it use standard cell libraries?
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February 24, 2013, 07:48:33 PM
 #18

Yes, How about a website with more details? About the team, their background and expertise. Sounds interesting, but more specifics are needed.
Regards,
Brian

ChainLink. The one coin that is a must own..
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February 24, 2013, 10:18:34 PM
 #19

The questions about website, price etc. are for the system integrators which are looked for, not for helveticoin. The integrator(s) will offer the miners, so wait a few months.
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February 24, 2013, 10:19:19 PM
 #20

Allow me reiterate the purpose of this post was to get in contact with potential manufacturing partners (and as such, it is proving to have been very worthwhile), not to find funding, secure pre orders or satisfy everyone's curiosity. As a rule of thumb,  I will divulge information in so far it helps potential partners determine if its worth their while to talk to us,  but providing implementation details would not achieve that and might expose details Im not comfortable sharing. So Im not willing or able to elaborate on the questions posted above, even if  I do feel that applying some common sense would answer most of them.

As for our website, its near the bottom of our long todo list, and if we get around making one, dont expect to find lots of personal or technical details. I hinted at the reasons for the former,  and we will leave it to our partners to announce their products and provide you with their technical specifications, performance,  time tables and prices at the time they deem appropriate.

edit: what RHA said.
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