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Author Topic: Minimalist Spartan6-LX150 board  (Read 48419 times)
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September 26, 2011, 09:02:38 PM
 #41

Well for people like me (carpenter) all this technical things are a bit hard to understand. The prize is one thing but for me it's more important to understand first how it works. I need a kit i can plug in and mine. The total package. When you can offer that (with enough hash rate), i'm sure that people will buy.

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September 26, 2011, 09:15:13 PM
 #42

I need a kit i can plug in and mine. The total package. When you can offer that (with enough hash rate), i'm sure that people will buy.
agree this

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September 26, 2011, 11:24:56 PM
 #43

This is phenomenal that you could get the cost down so low. My only complaint was going to be the JTAG interface. But, since you've accounted for daisy-chaining 6 of them... that complaint is gone. Hopefully your JTAG signal integrity holds up from daisy-chaining 6 boards. It's touchy.

Give the bitcoin community some time to warm up to your idea. There've been enough scams going around, so it's no surprise they don't jump on the bandwagon right away.

About fpgaminer's open-source code and ztex's "borrowing" of it-- the issue wasn't that ztex borrowed a few bits and pieces. It is open-source after all. I think the issue was lack of acknowledgement.

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September 26, 2011, 11:48:51 PM
 #44

Yes, I read it many times... did you?  There's no prohibition against through-hole caps and they explicitly say that it's okay to have the 0.47uF's outside the footprint as long as they're within half an inch of the device outline.

Hmm, I disagree... Anyway, your design works, so that's good! It just might not be as immune to noise as it would be with 0402s. It's not a mortal sin to disobey the datasheet, just risky.

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September 27, 2011, 01:23:12 AM
 #45

I need a kit i can plug in and mine. The total package. When you can offer that (with enough hash rate), i'm sure that people will buy.
Indeed.


I am with these guys..  I am no electrical engineer..  but I can plug in a psu Smiley

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September 27, 2011, 04:16:05 AM
 #46

Once miners start posting success stories and pics of stable, large, $1-2/MH FPGA rigs,
the demand will follow. Anybody buying today would be a super-early-adopter.
(Which I guess makes ArtForz a super-super-super-early adopter...)

It's a huge PITA to build and cool a 100 GPU rig, but a 200-300+ FPGA rig is no problem in a tiny apartment.
Without dummy monitor plugs, $500 of molex<->PCI-e cables, 50 ATX power supplies, and all the other non-wife-approved stuff.

Once there are enough FPGAs on the network, difficulty will increase and GPUs will become unprofitable or barely
profitable for anyone paying for cooling + electricity [probably most people with more than 4-5 GPUs]. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Live or die, make your choice  Cool

-rph

Ultra-Low-Cost DIY FPGA Miner: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=44891
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September 27, 2011, 05:00:15 AM
 #47

Once more miners start posting success stories and pictures of stable, large, $1-2/MH FPGA rigs,
the demand will follow. Anybody buying today would be a super-early-adopter.
(Which I guess makes ArtForz a super-super-super-early adopter...)

It's a huge PITA to build and cool a 100 GPU rig, but a 200-300+ FPGA rig is no problem in a tiny apartment.
Without dummy monitor plugs, $500 of molex<->PCI-e cables, 50 ATX power supplies, and all the other non-wife-approved stuff.

Once there are enough FPGAs on the network, difficulty will increase and GPUs will become unprofitable or barely
profitable for anyone paying for cooling + electricity [probably most people with more than 4-5 GPUs]. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Live or die, make your choice  Cool

-rph


These situation will or not come to truth depends on YOU HDL programmers and custom FPGA board venders.
My DUAL spartan6-SLX150 board for development will small-lot on offer in 1week. I think a 400MH/s perboard(200 per FPGA, and certainly MUST with yours MAGIC bitstream) hashing speed with a price less than 600$ will attract more people turn to FPGA mining.

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September 27, 2011, 05:56:37 AM
 #48

Well, with the price drop, the payoff for GPUs is bleak already.
A completely DIY 6s150 should pay for itself faster than the "best" ATI option,
if you agree with the Bitminer math.

The exact #s are endlessly debatable of course (and not everybody will DIY).
[And some people live directly next to a hydro dam, or get free power through
various legal and illegal ways..]

Still I think FPGAs have already overtaken GPUs for the guys with real $$$$
to invest in mining. And, if not, at least they will very soon.

-rph

Ultra-Low-Cost DIY FPGA Miner: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=44891
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September 27, 2011, 06:26:03 AM
 #49

I think there would be more customers if you translated some of this info from electronics expert into computer expert Tongue I have about enough electronics experience to know about electricity and ummm...well, that looks an awful lot like 3 liquid looking caps in your pic which are going to explode over the not-so-long long term if they're exposed to heat constantly Tongue You know, like cheap liquid caps that some uncaring manufacturer like HP mounts a quarter inch from an old Pentium 4 that leak after 1 years of significant enough dust build up as opposed to modern solid capacitors on ASUS boards that you could basically run in an oven for 10 years.  Get some of those 50,000 MTBF Japanese ones Cheesy

That concern aside, everyone keeps making models and potential products and asking for preorders without ever explaining to us computer people the process outside the board that we're familiar with.  In other words, what's the hookup style (USB?), who wrote a driver if anyone, what versions of windows would it operate correctly on, and what mining software recognizes it as a processing device and can send and receive data for mining?  I bet you'd get 10x the interest if you made a quick post outlining all that.
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September 27, 2011, 06:49:34 AM
 #50

This is phenomenal that you could get the cost down so low. My only complaint was going to be the JTAG interface. But, since you've accounted for daisy-chaining 6 of them... that complaint is gone. Hopefully your JTAG signal integrity holds up from daisy-chaining 6 boards. It's touchy.

You raise an important point, although you can always crank the JTAG clock rate down to something ridiculous like 0.25Mhz.  Sure, it will take a full minute or two to load the bitstream, but once that's done you've still got an order of magnitude more bandwidth than you need for loading getwork's and reading back nonces.

So, yes, signal integrity is an issue here and I fully expect that the JTAG clock rate will need to be reduced when all six slots are full.  Once I have another four boards built I will know this for sure.  But the reduced clock rate will not affect mining throughput at all -- just "boot up" time.

The printing press heralded the end of the Dark Ages and made the Enlightenment possible, but it took another three centuries before any country managed to put freedom of the press beyond the reach of legislators.  So it may take a while before cryptocurrencies are free of the AML-NSA-KYC surveillance plague.
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September 27, 2011, 06:55:31 AM
 #51

well, that looks an awful lot like 3 liquid looking caps in your pic which are going to explode over the not-so-long long term if they're exposed to heat constantly Tongue You know, like cheap liquid caps that some uncaring manufacturer like HP mounts a quarter inch from an old Pentium 4 that leak after 1 years of significant enough dust build up as opposed to modern solid capacitors on ASUS boards that you could basically run in an oven for 10 years.  Get some of those 50,000 MTBF Japanese ones Cheesy

That's actually a pretty good idea and won't even require a PCB change.  Spending an extra buck or two on something non-electrolytic is probably worthwhile insurance against capacitor plague.  Thanks for the suggestion!

The printing press heralded the end of the Dark Ages and made the Enlightenment possible, but it took another three centuries before any country managed to put freedom of the press beyond the reach of legislators.  So it may take a while before cryptocurrencies are free of the AML-NSA-KYC surveillance plague.
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September 27, 2011, 07:01:02 AM
 #52

well, that looks an awful lot like 3 liquid looking caps in your pic which are going to explode over the not-so-long long term if they're exposed to heat constantly Tongue You know, like cheap liquid caps that some uncaring manufacturer like HP mounts a quarter inch from an old Pentium 4 that leak after 1 years of significant enough dust build up as opposed to modern solid capacitors on ASUS boards that you could basically run in an oven for 10 years.  Get some of those 50,000 MTBF Japanese ones Cheesy

That's actually a pretty good idea and won't even require a PCB change.  Spending an extra buck or two on something non-electrolytic is probably worthwhile insurance against capacitor plague.  Thanks for the suggestion!


hehehehehehe I soooo want to add a "see also: emachines.com" or maybe foxconn to the end of that article for no reason and see if anyone notices Tongue  Didn't know they named it btw.  I've seen at least a dozen myself with my small PC repair business.  One time I even saw one out in the middle of nowhere on the board bulge and fail causing the onboard graphics to distort and fail to initialize almost 100% of the time and it wasn't exposed to much heat.  So don't get cheap caps either apparently Tongue I'm sure there are plenty of high failure rate solid capacitor knock offs out there given their current reputation as being awesome.
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September 27, 2011, 07:07:38 AM
 #53

Please consider SMD ceramics..

-rph

Ultra-Low-Cost DIY FPGA Miner: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=44891
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September 27, 2011, 07:14:50 AM
 #54

I need a kit i can plug in and mine. The total package. When you can offer that (with enough hash rate), i'm sure that people will buy.
Indeed.
I am with these guys..  I am no electrical engineer..  but I can plug in a psu Smiley

You have a good point.  But to flip that around, on the GPU side it's taken as a given that you're going to buy your hardware from a company (ATI) that does not provide the mining software (or even admit it knows what bitcoin is).  But I understand that while gamers have seen GPUs before, most bitcoiners are encountering FPGAs for the first time.  They aren't scary; they're just obscenely flexible... "enough rope to hang yourself with."

I could, perhaps, put together a turn-key solution, although it would involve a lot of effort.  My two major concerns are:

1. HDL developer guilt.  It makes me slightly ill to see posts like ngzhang's "hey you lazy-ass HDL developers make your code faster so I can make MOAR PROFITZ!!!".  I'd feel queasy about selling a "solution" that bundled in somebody else's hard work.  I don't know the exact details of the fpgaminer/ztex dispute, but I can certainly empathize with the initial reaction from fpgaminer.  It would make me really happy to be providing low-cost boards to people who are interested in tweaking/tuning/improving the HDL code, but I think I've figured out now that there aren't as many of those people as I'd thought.

2. Support.  I'm happy to help out here in a casual message-board-member way.  But I'm kinda worried about lazy users buying a "turn-key" solution from me and then demanding that I hand-hold them through the whole process of configuring Xilinx's crapware drivers on their Windows host box (I haven't used Windows in almost a decade) under threat of posting negative reviews of my product ("did not work for me").  I definitely can't sell the boards for $250 if I have to budget in my own time spent on extensive tech support work.

Anyways.  Looks like the first run will be small personal-use-only, but there may be another batch of boards in November after I've figured out if it's worth taking this to the next level.

The printing press heralded the end of the Dark Ages and made the Enlightenment possible, but it took another three centuries before any country managed to put freedom of the press beyond the reach of legislators.  So it may take a while before cryptocurrencies are free of the AML-NSA-KYC surveillance plague.
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September 27, 2011, 07:20:51 AM
 #55

Please consider SMD ceramics..
-rph

I would if I owned a (tens-of-thousands-of-dollars) pick-and-place machine.  Unfortunately trying to do those by hand is painful and unreliable.  I just can't justify it on an eyestrain/benefit basis. Smiley

The printing press heralded the end of the Dark Ages and made the Enlightenment possible, but it took another three centuries before any country managed to put freedom of the press beyond the reach of legislators.  So it may take a while before cryptocurrencies are free of the AML-NSA-KYC surveillance plague.
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September 27, 2011, 07:34:25 AM
 #56

I need a kit i can plug in and mine. The total package. When you can offer that (with enough hash rate), i'm sure that people will buy.
Indeed.
I am with these guys..  I am no electrical engineer..  but I can plug in a psu Smiley

You have a good point.  But to flip that around, on the GPU side it's taken as a given that you're going to buy your hardware from a company (ATI) that does not provide the mining software (or even admit it knows what bitcoin is).  But I understand that while gamers have seen GPUs before, most bitcoiners are encountering FPGAs for the first time.  They aren't scary; they're just obscenely flexible... "enough rope to hang yourself with."

I could, perhaps, put together a turn-key solution, although it would involve a lot of effort.  My two major concerns are:

1. HDL developer guilt.  It makes me slightly ill to see posts like ngzhang's "hey you lazy-ass HDL developers make your code faster so I can make MOAR PROFITZ!!!".  I'd feel queasy about selling a "solution" that bundled in somebody else's hard work.  I don't know the exact details of the fpgaminer/ztex dispute, but I can certainly empathize with the initial reaction from fpgaminer.  It would make me really happy to be providing low-cost boards to people who are interested in tweaking/tuning/improving the HDL code, but I think I've figured out now that there aren't as many of those people as I'd thought.

2. Support.  I'm happy to help out here in a casual message-board-member way.  But I'm kinda worried about lazy users buying a "turn-key" solution from me and then demanding that I hand-hold them through the whole process of configuring Xilinx's crapware drivers on their Windows host box (I haven't used Windows in almost a decade) under threat of posting negative reviews of my product ("did not work for me").  I definitely can't sell the boards for $250 if I have to budget in my own time spent on extensive tech support work.

Anyways.  Looks like the first run will be small personal-use-only, but there may be another batch of boards in November after I've figured out if it's worth taking this to the next level.

Here we have a team working hard on the HDLs, but unfortunately, it's really a extreme difficult work.

CEO of Canaan-creative, Founder of Avalon project.
https://canaan.io/
Business contact: love@canaan.io
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September 27, 2011, 07:59:10 AM
 #57

I'd feel queasy about selling a "solution" that bundled in somebody else's hard work. 

Then make a deal with the someone else's and give them a share of the revenue (possibly in return for them providing support on the software)

Quote
2. Support.  I'm happy to help out here in a casual message-board-member way.  But I'm kinda worried about lazy users buying a "turn-key" solution from me and then demanding that I hand-hold them through the whole process of configuring Xilinx's crapware drivers on their Windows host box

No harm in stating you'd only support Linux. I think most serious miners use linux anyway. At least the market for "linux able" miners is infinitely bigger than the market for people who are familiar with FPGAs.

Just my 2 cents.

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September 27, 2011, 11:26:30 AM
 #58

Following.
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September 27, 2011, 12:21:20 PM
 #59

Interested

 Merged mining, free SMS notifications, PayPal payout and much more.
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September 27, 2011, 01:27:55 PM
 #60

Once there are enough FPGAs on the network, difficulty will increase and GPUs will become unprofitable or barely
profitable for anyone paying for cooling + electricity [probably most people with more than 4-5 GPUs]. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I often see this quoted but it is nonsense.  Higher difficulty will make FPGA even @ $2 per MH even MORE prohibitively expensive.  Higher difficulty benefits those w/ efficient GPU (like 5970 & 7xxx series) and moderate to low cost electricity the most.

I think you will see a difficulty spike will kill demand for new FPGA not drive it.

Take hypothetical FPGA miner $2 per MH.  150MH = $300 in cost.  Running 24/7/365 @ 15W.
Break even @ current difficulty is 25 months.
Break even @ 30% difficulty increase is 33 months.
Break even @ 50% difficulty increase is 40 months.

Currently today one could buy 5970 for <$500.  Say 3x5970 + powersupply + other components = 2.8GH for $2800.  Running 24/7/365 @ 1000W.

Break even @ current difficulty is 17 months.
Break even @ 30% difficulty increase is 25 months.
Break even @ 50% difficulty increase is 32 months.

Difficulty increases close the gap but even $2 per MH (an impressive improvement) is still undercut by anyone w/ $0.10 electrical costs (or less). I am interested in FPGA but these dire predictions of them killing GPU are simply unwarranted unless cost is closer to $1 per MH installed.

Remember GPU performance per watt won't be static.  The 7xxx series looks to almost double performance per watt (cutting electrical cost in half for GPU miners).  A break even of 40+ months, is a considerable risk as 4 years is long enough for 2 product cycles in GPU world.  The product after the 7xxx series likely won't improve performance per watt (think a repeat of 5xxx vs 6xxx) but the generation after that (lets call it 9xxx series) will be a move to 20nm and bring all the power reduction and performance boosts that a die shrink does.

4 years is a long time.  My comparison above is based on the 5970s.  Soon FPGA will compete against 7xxx series (nearly double the performance per watt) and within 4 years against the 9xxx series (4x the performance per watt).
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