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Author Topic: ASIC vs microprocessor  (Read 230 times)
elChanco
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May 06, 2018, 08:25:01 AM
 #1

Good morning,

I would need one (two...) kind of electronic hardware information about mining ASICs.
  • What is the difference between an ASIC designed for mining and a microprocessor?
  • Does an ASIC miner contain an ALU?

Thanks!  Smiley


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DannyHamilton
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May 06, 2018, 04:17:05 PM
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 #2

  • What is the difference between an ASIC designed for mining and a microprocessor?
ASIC is Application Specific Integrated Circuit.

It can ONLY do the single task that it is designed to do.

microprocessor can accept and follow instructions to accomplish many different tasks.

  • Does an ASIC miner contain an ALU?

No.  It doesn't need one.

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May 06, 2018, 04:22:35 PM
 #3

Both ASIC and a microprocessor are Integrated circuits. But a microprocessor is designed for handling all sorts of computational activities whereas an ASIC is designed only for carrying out a specific task. Let me try to break down in simple terms...

ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) is basically a silicon chip where thousands of mining algorithm are printed onto them to carry out mining activity in an effective and faster way. As bitcoin mining increased in difficulty and lots and lots of miners came into existence during the 2012 era, mining with CPU was considered way more difficult than they expected and it was very tough to mine a single btc and it consumed long days. Hence to prevent this situation,  miners started using GPU instead of microprocessor.

Asic are very powerful and solved more than what combined microprocessor did in 2011. Though asic need enormous power to run them and are lot more expensive than microprocessor, they do give out results at a fair rate. Asic most probably doesn't have a arithmetic and logic unit.

DannyHamilton
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May 06, 2018, 04:28:00 PM
 #4

As bitcoin mining increased in difficulty and lots and lots of miners came into existence during the 2012 era, mining with CPU was considered way more difficult than they expected and it was very tough to mine a single btc and it consumed long days. Hence to prevent this situation,  miners started using GPU instead of microprocessor.

You've got that backwards.

First miners started mining with GPU, THEN mining with CPU became way more difficult.  Difficulty adjusts to keep block rate near 10 minutes.  Since GPU could calculate many more hashes per second than CPU, the difficulty needed to increase to slow down blocks.

elChanco
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May 06, 2018, 04:34:39 PM
 #5

Thank you for your comments.

But if I take a processor specifically designed to do the same tasks "taught" to an ASIC, can I consider the two objects equal?
DannyHamilton
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May 06, 2018, 04:46:49 PM
 #6

Thank you for your comments.

But if I take a processor specifically designed to do the same tasks "taught" to an ASIC, can I consider the two objects equal?

ASIC is not "taught" anything.

ASIC is "specifically designed to do" a single task.

If you build a integrated circuit specifically designed to do any single task, then you have built an ASIC.

elChanco
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May 06, 2018, 09:23:09 PM
 #7

Thank you for your comments.

But if I take a processor specifically designed to do the same tasks "taught" to an ASIC, can I consider the two objects equal?

ASIC is not "taught" anything.

ASIC is "specifically designed to do" a single task.

If you build a integrated circuit specifically designed to do any single task, then you have built an ASIC.

Thank you very much once again.


  • Does an ASIC miner contain an ALU?

No.  It doesn't need one.

It would be really great if you had any sources on this point.  Smiley
amishmanish
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May 07, 2018, 10:45:30 AM
 #8

An ASIC is, as the name suggests, first of all an Integrated Circuit. An IC. An umbrella term used to describe all kind of semiconductor hardware which basically consist of set of transistors etched on Silicon wafers.

Being Application specific means that it is optimally designed for a specific operation. A microprocessor is an Integrated Circuit too but one which has become the most popular avatar due to it's use in general computing. Microprocessors have an ALU to perform the basic logic and arithmetic functions. Apart from that there is the I/O, Registers, Cache, Control etc. The ALU is still where all the basic functioning takes place.

ASICs may have in-built microprocessors, memories and everything on board in a SoC configuration such that they are self-sufficent black boxes doing a specific job very optimally and in the fastest possible manner.

A Bitcoin ASIC miner has all the necessary interfaces for network and connecting with pools etc. I am sure there must be some blueprint or VHDL schematic available for it in the wider internet. A good search target for the evening then.

Here: https://thebitcoin.pub/t/build-your-own-asic-miner/14173

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May 07, 2018, 05:03:46 PM
 #9

First miners started mining with GPU, THEN mining with CPU became way more difficult.  Difficulty adjusts to keep block rate near 10 minutes.  Since GPU could calculate many more hashes per second than CPU, the difficulty needed to increase to slow down blocks.
I can't get your point! Did you mean that even before the difficulty increased, miners started mining with GPU? If that's the case, how fast it was to mine btc with gpu than with cpu during those early days? Did miners just use gpu to solve the blocks faster and get rewards easily? Thanks for the correction!

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May 07, 2018, 05:14:30 PM
 #10

I can't get your point! Did you mean that even before the difficulty increased, miners started mining with GPU?
Honestly, we wouldn't know. But at least a few blocks would probably have been mined with GPUs when the network was still CPU dominant.
If that's the case, how fast it was to mine btc with gpu than with cpu during those early days?
At least a few hundred times. I can't say for sure but I'm taking an estimate using hardware at that time.
Did miners just use gpu to solve the blocks faster and get rewards easily? Thanks for the correction!
No. At the start, this would be the case. Once everyone started to mine using GPU, the difficulty increases proportionally and the earning decreases too. GPU would definitely be able to have a higher probability of getting a block within 10 minutes. If you're talking about when Bitcoin gained some traction, I think the probabilty of finding blocks using either GPU or CPU is negligible.

elChanco
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May 09, 2018, 08:00:42 PM
 #11

I apologize for annoying all of you,
but it would be really great to have confirmation (an online source?) that an ASIC chip does not have ALU  Grin

thanks again  Smiley
DannyHamilton
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May 09, 2018, 08:38:42 PM
Last edit: May 09, 2018, 08:54:34 PM by DannyHamilton
Merited by 2112 (1)
 #12

Define ALU.

By some definitions every transistor IS an ALU.

An ALU is a combinational digital electronic circuit that performs arithmetic and bitwise operations on integer binary numbers.

If we consider an electrical current to represent a 1 (which is an integer binary number) and lack of a current to represent a 0 (which is also an integer binary number) then a single transistor can be considered to be a bitwise "AND" operation (which is a combinational bitwise operation) where the inputs are the base and collector and the output is the emitter.  The emitter will only have current if BOTH the collector AND the base have current. As such, each and every transistor meets the most simplistic definition of ALU.  In that case, an ASIC consists of millions of ALU.

Also, by the definition above, a bitcoin mining ASIC IS an ALU since it is a combinational digital electronic circuit that performs SHA256 (which is an algorithm of bitwise operations on integer binary numbers) on the input.

It would also be a good idea to define what you mean when you ask about ASIC.  Are you specifically asking about Bitcoin Mining ASIC?  Are you asking about an altcoin mining ASIC?  Are you asking about the general concept of an ASIC?

elChanco
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May 09, 2018, 08:46:47 PM
 #13

Thanks Danny!

Are you specifically asking about Bitcoin Mining ASIC?

Yes  Smiley
elChanco
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May 09, 2018, 09:02:22 PM
 #14

Also, by the definition above, a bitcoin mining ASIC IS an ALU since it is a combinational digital electronic circuit that performs SHA256 (which is an algorithm of bitwise operations on integer binary numbers) on the input.

  • Does an ASIC miner contain an ALU?

No.  It doesn't need one.

Forgive me, I am a little confused about these two statements...
DannyHamilton
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May 10, 2018, 01:22:18 AM
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 #15

Also, by the definition above, a bitcoin mining ASIC IS an ALU since it is a combinational digital electronic circuit that performs SHA256 (which is an algorithm of bitwise operations on integer binary numbers) on the input.

  • Does an ASIC miner contain an ALU?

No.  It doesn't need one.

Forgive me, I am a little confused about these two statements...

Which is the reason I posted this statement...

Define ALU.

What do you mean when you say ALU?

If, when you say "ALU", you mean the component of CPU architecture that can perform various integer operations on data that is stored in the CPU's registers (which is what I initially assumed you meant), then the answer is:
No.  It doesn't need one.  AN ASIC ISN'T A CPU, IT'S AN ASIC. In that situation, you might as well be asking for an online source that confirms that a wooden table doesn't have an ALU.

If, on the other hand, you are just using "ALU" as a generic term for a circuit that takes an input and performs combinational bitwise manipulations resulting in an output, then the answer is:
No. It doen't need on.  AN ASIC IS A GENERIC FORM OF AN ALU. (It is a Unit that performs specific coded integer Arithmetic and Logic) In that situation, you might as well be asking for an online source that confirms that an ALU doesn't HAVE an ALU.  It doesn't HAVE an ALU because it IS an ALU.


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May 13, 2018, 08:15:52 AM
 #16

~snip~
In that situation, you might as well be asking for an online source that confirms that an ALU doesn't HAVE an ALU.  It doesn't HAVE an ALU because it IS an ALU.

While you are right with your statement, a small 'correction':
An ALU can consist of multiple ALU's. A 32-bit ALU, for example, consists of 32 1-bit ALU's in a parallel circuit.


@OP:
If you do understand the same under the term ALU as 95% of the population (excluding the people who think its being talked about aluminium foil), then the answer is: No, an ASIC does not have an ALU.

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