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Author Topic: [CANCELLED] Project Caterpillar - Open Source 3RU DIY ASIC Miner  (Read 17140 times)
daemondazz
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May 14, 2013, 04:28:15 AM
 #1

Project: Caterpillar
Website: http://cryptominer.org/caterpillar/



Update 16th August 2013: The Caterpillar team have had a meeting and in light of the currently exponential increase in network difficulty and the continual delays regarding the Avalon chips come to the conclusion that it will not be possible to ROI with the Avalon chips, and have hence decided to cancel our project based around these chips.

This decision was not taken lightly and it was with a deep regret that this decision was reached. I currently have the components to build a single board with 7 chips and will be looking for 1 more sample chip, if anyone has one, so that I can build one board with 8 chips to prove that the design works. Once this has been completed I'll upload my design files to github under an open hardware license and will not be touching anything Avalon in the future.




The Caterpillar is a modular Avalon ASIC miner based on the Klondike16 project that is designed to fit into a rack mount server case using the drive bays as carriers. It is being designed by a group in Adelaide, South Australia who plan to form a small mining company. At this stage we will not be taking any orders for completed hardware, although we may be able to provide unpopualated PCBs for a small fee.

We are also investigating the feasibility of building a tray around the BitFury ASICs when they become available. More updates will be posted once details become available.

The people involved in this project are:

Version 1 Preliminary Specs:
  • Norco RPC-3116 or RPC-3216 3RU rack mount server case
  • 24 ASICs per tray
  • 6 temperature sensors per tray (1 per 4 ASICs)
  • 16 trays (384 ASICs) per chassis (approx 108GH/s in 3RU)
  • Custom USB/power distribution backplane to replace SAS/SATA backplane

The design will be fully open source with all schematics, PCB layouts and BOM parts available.


Update 7/Jun - Schematics
I have uploaded a draft PDF of the ASIC component of the schematics to our website. Components have not been numbered yet, but it does show the values.

Update 14/Jun - Sample Chip
We have been sent 1 sample chip so far from SebastianJu's group buy batch 1. Thanks Sebastian!

Update 14/Jun - Design Change
The team here have decided to simplify the design dramatically, so we're going to switch to a design that's very close to the BkkCoin's Klondike16 design. The plan is to use a customised version of his firmware. The changes from BkkCoin's ("reference") Klondike16 will be:
  • 12 ASICs per bus instead of 8,
  • No I2C for board stacking,
  • 6x I2C temperature sensors instead of a single analog temperature sensor.

Update 16/Aug - Project Cancelled
The team have decided to cancel the development of this project and seek a refund of our pre-ordered Avalon chips. I (daemondazz) will complete a single board with 8 chips to prove the design but no futher work will be performed.

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stripykitteh
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May 14, 2013, 04:41:32 AM
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I am also involved to a degree in this project.

A virtual bun for whoever can work out the inspiration for the project name!

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May 14, 2013, 05:53:07 AM
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I am also involved to a degree in this project.

A virtual bun for whoever can work out the inspiration for the project name!

the metamorphosis of BTC from a caterpillar to a butterfly?

also, i think aiming for a rack unit is not the way to go. Bring a smaller 20 Ghash unit to market and it will sell better, be a more appropriate "version 1.0", and pave the way for putting a more concentrated and knowledged effort into a 3RU system after

24" PCI-E cables with 16AWG wires and stripped ends - great for server PSU mods, best prices https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=563461 also selling 6" M-F-M PCIe splitters and PCIe-PCIe
No longer a wannabe - now an ASIC owner!
daemondazz
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May 14, 2013, 06:00:57 AM
 #4

As mentioned, at this stage we're not planning on selling, although if there is demand that could be an option - this is initially for our own use.

We have a lot left to finalise yet. We're planning on making it modular and starting with a small number of trays (like 4 or so) and expanding it as the design is proven. We have ordered enough ASICs to fully populate one Caterpiller so we can ramp up quickly.

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stripykitteh
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May 14, 2013, 06:19:41 AM
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I am also involved to a degree in this project.

A virtual bun for whoever can work out the inspiration for the project name!

the metamorphosis of BTC from a caterpillar to a butterfly?

also, i think aiming for a rack unit is not the way to go. Bring a smaller 20 Ghash unit to market and it will sell better, be a more appropriate "version 1.0", and pave the way for putting a more concentrated and knowledged effort into a 3RU system after

You're pretty much on the money - the joke was we'd build something that would be ready before a butterfly.

As dd said, we are intending to build something for our own use. We decided to announce the project and make our work open-source to see if there are any others interested in building something higher density, that can leverage the utility of a 3 RU case. The modular design would mean that anyone wanting to copy what we do could easily produce a 27 GH/s model using 4 drive bays, for example.

The design would be hot-swappable making for ease of maintenance and expansion.

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May 14, 2013, 08:16:52 PM
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Summary Preliminary Specs:
3RU rack mount server case
24 ASICs per drive tray
16 ASIC trays per case (384 ASICS per 3RU - Approx 108GH/s in 3RU)

That's a lot of heat in a small box. Are you sure you can cool that good enough?

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May 14, 2013, 08:29:42 PM
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Summary Preliminary Specs:
3RU rack mount server case
24 ASICs per drive tray
16 ASIC trays per case (384 ASICS per 3RU - Approx 108GH/s in 3RU)

That's a lot of heat in a small box. Are you sure you can cool that good enough?

Fill the case with mineral oil and add a pump + radiator Wink

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daemondazz
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May 14, 2013, 11:23:29 PM
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Fill the case with mineral oil and add a pump + radiator Wink

Heh, perhaps Smiley

One of the biggest unknowns at the moment is the heatsink, I'm trying to find one that has a base about 6-7mm thick and fins about 15mm high that has a themal resistance <1C/W. If we can find something to fit those requirements, I dont think it will be a large issue - this is for hosting in a data centre (so good ambient temperature) and each tray would only get up to around 60-70 degrees. With good airflow in the chassis, it should be managable.

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Bitcoinorama
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May 14, 2013, 11:26:48 PM
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love the name! Wink

Make my day! Say thanks if you found me helpful Smiley BTC Address --->
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daemondazz
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May 14, 2013, 11:33:44 PM
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Thanks, it was quite deliberate Smiley

Now we just need to prove it.

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stripykitteh
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May 15, 2013, 12:19:00 AM
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It's probably worth updating the top post to make it clear that one of the design assumptions is good ambient temperature such as in a data centre.

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kostagr33k
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May 15, 2013, 07:01:14 AM
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This sounds like an interesting project. Would definitely be interested in watching your progress on this.

Good luck

daemondazz
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May 22, 2013, 11:38:50 PM
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OK, to post an update, I don't have a lot entered into the computer as yet - I'm still planning out a lot of this, but:

I've pretty much settled on the Norco RPC-3016/3116 case for the initial unit. Need to aquire the chassis so I can check the backplane will be suitable however. I already have an RPC-4120, so I like their cases.

The backplane will be a pure USB data and power distribution backplane. Each miner tray (a larvae) will include the voltage regulation from 12v and microcontroller for the 24 chips on that tray. The board will be 'upside down' in the tray, with the ASICs and most of the SMT components on the bottom and the heatsink and inductors/electrolytic caps on the top.

I'm planning on using a PCIe4x connector on the backplane and a straight card edge contact on the larvae. Each PCIe pin can do 1.1A, so with 50W@12v being 4A, I plan on using about 10 contacts for the 12V power rail so each pin is well under 0.5A.

I've found a suitable copper heatsink - HP c-Class Blade CPU heatsinks which can dissipate the heat from a 120W CPU with the forced air cooling in the HP BladeSystem chassis. Our airflow likely won't be as good as that, but we should still have decent airflow.

I've started work on creating a specification for the location of the connectors (similar to how SATA is a spec) so that it should be possible to put the larvae into any hotswap bay, assuming a suitable backplane is created.

All of the design files will be loaded onto GitHub once I actually get them typed up.

Oh, and 100th post  Grin

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May 27, 2013, 10:22:32 PM
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any updates? Smiley
daemondazz
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May 28, 2013, 12:39:56 AM
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I've drawn up the block diagrams of the tray and backplane and will get them online shortly. I've spent the weekend (between children's birthday parties and stuff) crash-learning about CPLDs to work out if they will be suitable for handling the communication with the ASICs.

Diagrams and things will be posted on cryptominer.org once I get a moment.

Thanks for following!

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May 28, 2013, 01:26:52 AM
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This seems like a great project. Good luck with it Smiley
daemondazz
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May 28, 2013, 03:34:10 AM
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I have started a web page and loaded some basic information at http://cryptominer.org/caterpillar/

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May 28, 2013, 04:14:03 AM
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I have started a web page and loaded some basic information at http://cryptominer.org/caterpillar/

I would suggest to use are more readable font, no baby-blue background and
pleeeeeeasee use software to draw some nice images for your diagrams
... this looks like an art project of an 7 year old otherwise ;-)
daemondazz
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May 28, 2013, 04:33:16 AM
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My 7 year old being able to draw better than my is irrelevant :p

At this stage I'm just trying to get some information posted, I'll worry about cleaning it up once the schematics and pcb design is well underway.

Thanks for the feedback though, it is appreciated and has been noted!

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daemondazz
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May 28, 2013, 04:52:40 AM
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Ok, a mate that's a bit better at Visio than I am will spend some time on the diagrams tonight or tomorrow.

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