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Author Topic: An estimate of fpga performance  (Read 48758 times)
fpgaminer
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March 26, 2011, 10:49:03 AM
 #41

 Shocked Wow, this is such a coincidence! I was just browsing the forums tonight, and stumbled upon this thread. I finally registered an account just to post in this thread.

I've been working on an FPGA miner for the past few weeks! It's fully working*, currently running on my desk in front of me and generating up some tasty shares Cool I'll give an overview of my work:

Current Performance
Device: Altera Cyclone 3 C120 Dev Kit
Performance: 70Mhash/s
Power: 2.26W
Efficiency: 30.9 Mhash/W


It's written in Verilog, all crafted painstakingly by hand. There are two alternative designs. One is a serial design composed of many SHA256 cores running in parallel, each core computing a hash in 64 cycles (2 cores needed for the full hash). Each full core (2 half cores) consumes about 2800 LEs. The second design (currently running in front of me) is a pipelined version with one LOOOOONNNNGGGG chain of hashing stages running in parallel. That design computes 1 full hash every clock cycle. It runs at a maximum of 70MHz right now. Actually, I haven't tried pushing it to its limit, so it may very well run much faster. I'm hoping for 100MHz.

These are my results after off-and-on work for a few weeks. I've actually put most of my efforts into the serial design, because the pipelined design takes at least an hour to synthesize each time. The serial design can currently fit 42 full cores into the C120, each running at 90MHz and computing a full hash every 64 cycles. That's about 59Mhash/s.

The latest revision of the pipelined design consumes 90,000 LEs, so it's pretty big. I'm working to cram it into <64,000LEs so I can get two of them in one C120 chip, and push their clock to 100MHz, giving me a whopping 200Mhash/s.

I haven't used the on-board power meter before, but if I'm reading it correctly the FPGA is currently using 2.26 Watts. That ... seems really low, but Altera's website verifies that that's actually above average for a C120, so I guess it's accurate. That's 31 Mhash/W, which is 1200% more efficient than the most efficient GPU listed on the Wiki. So efficient, it's basically free. Poor guy runs terribly hot though. I need to go put a fan on him...

The only downside is that this board in particular, the C120, costs $1000. The same design will easily fit into the DE2-115 board (from Terasic), which only costs $600. I have one of those too, so I'll test on him later. You're not likely to pay off that $600 quickly, though, so I guess it isn't economical yet. A reduced version may run in the DE0-Nano board, which is $80, but obviously it won't have the same performance (about 25%).

All my efforts are put into optimizing every last bit of the design, so we'll see how far I push the poor FPGA. It already out-performs my GTX 285 card, so I'm happy  Grin and at a fraction of the power cost.

And I'm only getting started  Cool Who wants to front the money to buy me a Stratix board and move this into Hardcopy?  Tongue

* By fully working, I really do mean it. It's happily submitting hashes to a pool. I was quite thrilled when my little baby submitted his first share  Cheesy

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deadlizard
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March 26, 2011, 11:16:51 AM
 #42

this is relevent to my interests

don't mind me, just monitoring this thread

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fpgaminer
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March 26, 2011, 11:25:45 AM
 #43

If you guys are interested in my work, let me know, and I'll continue to post updates and such. Otherwise, I guess I'll just toil away in silence.

And a quick note:
The current design uses my PC to fetch work, and push it to the FPGA, as well as check for "Golden Tickets" (my funny internal name for valid nonces) and submit them when found. There's room in the pipelined design to put in a NIOS microprocessor. This could potentially use the ethernet port on the dev kit to do all the fetching and submitting. That way it'd be totally automated, and headless.  Cool

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March 26, 2011, 11:35:45 AM
 #44

If you guys are interested in my work, let me know, and I'll continue to post updates and such. Otherwise, I guess I'll just toil away in silence.

And a quick note:
The current design uses my PC to fetch work, and push it to the FPGA, as well as check for "Golden Tickets" (my funny internal name for valid nonces) and submit them when found. There's room in the pipelined design to put in a NIOS microprocessor. This could potentially use the ethernet port on the dev kit to do all the fetching and submitting. That way it'd be totally automated, and headless.  Cool
Oh, I think there'll definitely be interest. My initial thoughts are that Mhash/W is superb, about 15 times better than a 5970. Mhash/s is still quite low, given the cost, but a "quad DE0-Nano board" version would be particularly interesting - $320 (compared with $400 or more for a second-hand 5970). Professional miners who are concerned about on-going electricity costs more than they are about fixed, up-front costs might very well be interested.

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March 26, 2011, 04:00:36 PM
 #45


At the same time your results do seem rather better than what I thought can be had on both hash/watt hash/$ . I'd say if you manage to perfect your design, order ASIC fabrication and turn in into some device for sha256 and bitcoin mining this would sell well, not only to bitcoiners but to various spooks too.


If someone were to develop such an ASIC and put it on a small SOC, and networked a bunch in a ribbon, they would make great heat trace cabling for water lines.  Parking garages (which still have to have fire suppression systems) have heat trace wrapped around water lines and mains, which are then insulated over that.  These water lines have to be heated continuously anytime the outside temp is below 35 degrees, so that cold spots don't freeze & bust the water lines.

I considered making a Linux cluster like this about 10 years ago, but never did anything with the idea.  These might sell well in high latitudes.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
nphard
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March 26, 2011, 04:33:22 PM
 #46

Current Performance
Device: Altera Cyclone 3 C120 Dev Kit
Performance: 70Mhash/s
Power: 2.26W
Efficiency: 30.9 Mhash/W

Those are some surprisingly good numbers. Just think what could be done with something like this.
ArtForz
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March 26, 2011, 05:56:19 PM
 #47

Good?
I've gotten 70Mh/s with a Spartan6 LX 150-3, $180 @ 1ea.
he gets the same from a CycloneIII 120-C8, $380 @ 1ea.
and expects about the same from a CycloneIV-E 115-C8, $310 @ 1ea.

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Jered Kenna (TradeHill)
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April 04, 2011, 03:16:36 PM
 #48

posting to follow

moneyandtech.com
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fpgaminer
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April 07, 2011, 06:15:11 AM
 #49

Well, I've been occasionally poking and prodding my design. The pipelined version is clocking at 80MHz now, and down to 80K LEs (64K being the goal, down from 90K). Not huge progress, but I figured I'd keep the thread alive.

eMansipater
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April 07, 2011, 07:41:01 AM
 #50

I'm very interested to see what happens with this too.  Do FPGA's follow a similar tech curve to GPU's?

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April 07, 2011, 12:30:45 PM
 #51

What model of FPGA are you currently using?
You can send to production as ASIC and maybe get 200MHz+

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Jered Kenna (TradeHill)
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April 07, 2011, 12:53:48 PM
 #52

I could be wrong here but I assumed there was already a need for an efficient version of this out there.
Wouldn't spy agencies or security or whoever want these? Hell maybe they have 100,000 and just aren't saying anything though..

Or are they way more specialized to bitcoin than I realize.

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mrb
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April 07, 2011, 03:59:32 PM
 #53

The NSA does have its own silicon foundry.

Not anymore. They abandoned it because a decent foundry these days costs multiple billion of dollars which is estimated to be a large fraction the classified budget of the NSA. They now produce chips by buying production capacity from semiconductor companies through the TAPO program.
fpgaminer
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April 07, 2011, 10:32:39 PM
 #54

Quote
What model of FPGA are you currently using?
Altera's Cyclone III EP3C120F780, from the Cyclone III FPGA Development Kit.

The design will also run just fine on a Cyclone IV C115, which is a bit cheaper.

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April 08, 2011, 10:59:36 PM
 #55

hmmmmm....

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April 09, 2011, 02:21:43 PM
 #56

posting to activate e-mail notifications
randomguy7
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April 27, 2011, 12:28:33 AM
 #57

just watching - ignore me Smiley
pusle
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April 27, 2011, 07:19:01 PM
 #58


http://www.achronix.com/products/speedster22i.html

700K Luts @ 1.5GHz

Now we're getting somewhere?  Grin
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April 29, 2011, 01:28:37 PM
 #59


http://www.achronix.com/products/speedster22i.html

700K Luts @ 1.5GHz

Now we're getting somewhere?  Grin
At an unknown $ amount. Why can't these people just put a dollar amount next to their product?

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April 29, 2011, 03:38:07 PM
 #60

At an unknown $ amount. Why can't these people just put a dollar amount next to their product?

They like to force you to have to call one of their salespersons who will price the product according to how much money you have. Market segmentation at work...
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