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Author Topic: 1GH/s, 20w, $500 — Butterflylabs, is it a scam?  (Read 116494 times)
P4man
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December 01, 2011, 09:09:42 PM
 #1201

My apologies, I don't have the hardware know-how that other forum members have.  What am I missing, some obvious application of Occam's razor?

Its not about hardware, its about common sense. You are not going to make a mistake like that on one of your 2 key selling points and keep repeating that mistake over and over for months without someone noticing. It also doesnt rhyme with rig box, or you think they got it wrong by a factor 2x there too? Last but not least, in the unthinkable scenario this somehow did happen and they discovered it yesterday (OOPS) they aint gonna say a software fix is being worked on.

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December 01, 2011, 09:26:09 PM
 #1202

Well they haven't hit 1k mh/s but around 800 if i read right. That's not too bad for a "scammer" with no real product. Keep it coming guys !

The belief in a scam was due to their unbelievable claims.  Claims that turned out to be untrue.

Claimed:
$500
1.05GH/s
19.8W

That's $0.5 per MH and 50MH/W.  Stats that are way beyond what current gen FPGAs can do.

Today we are looking at
$700
~750 to 800MH (simulated performance on static block header)
40 to 50W
That's ~$1 per MH and 15 to 20 MH/W.  Which is inline w/ other FPGA designs and much more believable.

Had they been honest about their performance from the start the reaction likely would be different.  If they can achieve <$1 per MH and ~20MH/W it makes them competitive with other offerings and likely the market leader but it wasn't what was claimed on day 1.
Well they did have a pre-order period with special pricing of $499. True.  If you pre-ordered, you knew the price would rise after the pre-order period.

Their 1.05 GH seems to be based on what they may have been able to do in the past.  The jury is still out, but a preliminary debug version hit ~760 MHash.  Will the shipping version hit 1.05  GH/s? I am willing to believe BFL, they seem capable, and confident that they will hit their numbers.

19.8 vs 19.8 x2. This may be due to a language problem between engineers and marketing. I don't know and speculating will lead to no useful outcome.  Should it be the case that it is a communications problem, it should be rectified by updating the website with the correct numbers, if in fact that is what has happened.

TBH, I can hardly consider this a scam.  Bernie Madoff was a scam, who committed fraud to gain the trust and wealth of his victims.

I just can't conclude the same of BFL, unless they ship bricks to all the pre-order customers. 

I guess it depends on what the individual considers a scam.  If you pre-ordered, the only stats you had to make your purchase decision on was the ones they gave.  If these turn out to be false then I would consider that pretty scammish.

If I pre-ordered a 60" inch TV and then was sent a 40" TV instead I think I might feel a bit scammed even if it was a really nice 40" TV.

It seems funny for people to call victory about it not being a scam if the company can't deliver a product they promised.  Though I suppose it is great news for scammy people and businesses everywhere that so many such people exist.

"Look guys, we can make false promises that we fail to meet and people will be so happy about it not being a COMPLETE scam they will rub it in the face of skeptics!"

Of course I suppose it's possible that they do hit all their numbers and ship them in a reasonable time, that should be the point at which victory is called though.
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December 01, 2011, 09:28:45 PM
 #1203

Almost 20W per chip its a very high value. If that chip have Rthjc (junction to case thermal resistance) =>3C/W then they will fry that chips (and more propably they will fail to do the job correctly). 20C of ambiet temp + 20W*3C/W= 80C core temp. Industrial chips can work on that level of temperatures. And if the ambient is higher then FAIL....

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December 01, 2011, 09:32:57 PM
 #1204

Maybe the were a bit too optimistic. People make mistakes. That's life.
Or you could say they lied and misled people.  Depends on how you look at it.

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December 01, 2011, 09:36:19 PM
 #1205

rph is advertising his boards at ~1$ per MH, but not for sell... Sad

My design is DIY; it's $1/MH if you build it at home with hobby techniques and don't
have to pay someone to license the design, populate and solder the board,
test/debug it, etc.

A fully assembled/tested miner w/ 1-2 45nm FPGAs is going to cost more than that.

A fully assembled/tested miner w/ 100 45nm FPGAs can cost less than that.

-rph


Hi rph.  Sent you a PM a while back.  Very interested to know if you'll be sharing/selling your DIY guide.  Interested in putting together a 50-100 FPGA cluster myself. It would a very fun project.

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December 01, 2011, 10:45:30 PM
 #1206

My apologies, I don't have the hardware know-how that other forum members have.  What am I missing, some obvious application of Occam's razor?

Its not about hardware, its about common sense. You are not going to make a mistake like that on one of your 2 key selling points and keep repeating that mistake over and over for months without someone noticing. It also doesnt rhyme with rig box, or you think they got it wrong by a factor 2x there too? Last but not least, in the unthinkable scenario this somehow did happen and they discovered it yesterday (OOPS) they aint gonna say a software fix is being worked on.
I agree that the explanation is far-fetched, but it is not BFL's explanation simply speculation.

You are making an excellent observation. I doubt it is something fixable in software.

It could be a hardware flaw, hardware design flaw, or simply a sales pitch lie.

In any case, your observation is not to be dismissed.
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December 01, 2011, 11:08:34 PM
 #1207

I think those dismissing this as not a scam from the fact they put on a semi functional demo are overlooking a few things:
1) They have yet to ship any boards
2) Their numbers do not match their claims
3) They claim to be incorporated but have not provided a business license
4) Since they are not legally incorporated and they claim to be they are an illegal organization
5) They could have just made up a couple boards they thought would get the numbers they claimed (and failed) to try and show they werent scammers
6) They keep on bouncing between Bitforce Labs and Butterfly Labs as a name (seems odd)
7) Their so called business address is actually residential
Cool Even if they are "legit" they could still go bankrupt and no one gets anything
9) As mentioned in the previous post by someone else the power numbers are way off - the whole benefit of fpga boards
10) If they can produce the boards with the numbers claimed they can just run off with the boards, close shop and not ship anything (Paypal buyer protection is a joke and wont protect you from this)
11) With a $26k box for preorder they have a lot more incentive to keep people believing that they are legit in the hopes to get some orders (big money) for this

It is still way too early to say this isnt a scam. I have been fooled by more elaborate scammers before.

(Add)

Hey fred0 I see your sig says 2.85 Ghash/s and total ABCPool hash rate is 288 Mhash.... I guess that makes you the 1%! lol
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December 01, 2011, 11:10:54 PM
 #1208

I think those dismissing this as not a scam from the fact they put on a semi functional demo are overlooking a few things:
1) They have yet to ship any boards
2) Their numbers do not match their claims
3) They claim to be incorporated but have not provided a business license
4) Since they are not legally incorporated and they claim to be they are an illegal organization
5) They could have just made up a couple boards they thought would get the numbers they claimed (and failed) to try and show they werent scammers
6) They keep on bouncing between Bitforce Labs and Butterfly Labs as a name (seems odd)
7) Their so called business address is actually residential
Cool Even if they are "legit" they could still go bankrupt and no one gets anything
9) As mentioned in the previous post by someone else the power numbers are way off - the whole benefit of fpga boards
10) If they can produce the boards with the numbers claimed they can just run off with the boards, close shop and not ship anything (Paypal buyer protection is a joke and wont protect you from this)
11) With a $26k box for preorder they have a lot more incentive to keep people believing that they are legit in the hopes to get some orders (big money) for this

It is still way too early to say this isnt a scam. I have been fooled by more elaborate scammers before.


Your 8th bullet point looks kinda... shady...
YEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!

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December 01, 2011, 11:12:35 PM
 #1209

I think one bad thing about the delays are it is kinda stopping me from investing into other FPGA boards.
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December 01, 2011, 11:25:53 PM
 #1210

I think one bad thing about the delays are it is kinda stopping me from investing into other FPGA boards.

I would say just order the best one thats actually available. You may be waiting forever for something that doesnt pan out. Also think of the BTC you could have made with that FPGA in the time you have been waiting. It seems to me like they are quite a way off from actually shipping anything.
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December 01, 2011, 11:35:33 PM
 #1211

I normally wouldn't bother responding to one of these types of posts, but either you or someone else keeps posting this list and I'm going to go over why MOST of it is completely bullshit:

I think those dismissing this as not a scam from the fact they put on a semi functional demo are overlooking a few things:
1) They have yet to ship any boards

Many companies pre-announce products.  This has absolutely no bearing as to whether or not something is a scam.  If it were, most tech companies would be scammers.  This point is invalid.

Quote
2) Their numbers do not match their claims

You could easily argue with equal weight that his is evidence that it is NOT a scam. Since if it were a scam, why not show something that has the actual numbers?  This point is invalid.

Quote
3) They claim to be incorporated but have not provided a business license

Completely immaterial as to whether or not they are scamming.  See next point, which is basically a rehash of this point.

Quote
4) Since they are not legally incorporated and they claim to be they are an illegal organization

While they may or may not be an illegal "company" this also has absolutely no bearing as to whether or not they are scamming.  They can be operating an illegal "corporation" and still provide a viable product. Conversely, a scamming company can be operating a perfectly legitimate company and still scam people without shipping any product (eBay et al does this all the time).  So, that being the case, both points 3 and 4 are completely invalid.

Quote
5) They could have just made up a couple boards they thought would get the numbers they claimed (and failed) to try and show they werent scammers

Possibly the only semi-legitimate gripe.  However, I offer you Occams Razor as a rebuttal.  Why go through all this trouble to produce actual working product (if not at the target estimates) to scam people when they could provide mock up fake hardware to look even more legitimate and scam people with far less effort, time and money?

Quote
6) They keep on bouncing between Bitforce Labs and Butterfly Labs as a name (seems odd)

I've not seen this, but I'll take your word for this that it's happened.  Assuming it has, so what?  How is this, once again, evidence of a scam?

Quote
7) Their so called business address is actually residential

Yet ANOTHER straw man.  I have in the past and currently run my corporation from a residence.  I have been in business for over 10 years.  So what?

Quote
Cool Even if they are "legit" they could still go bankrupt and no one gets anything

So could any company.  So could any start up.  So what?  Another invalid point.

Quote
9) As mentioned in the previous post by someone else the power numbers are way off - the whole benefit of fpga boards

Rehash of point number 2.  Already demonstrated to be an invalid point.

Quote
10) If they can produce the boards with the numbers claimed they can just run off with the boards, close shop and not ship anything (Paypal buyer protection is a joke and wont protect you from this)

And this is different from literally EVERYONE ELSE that sells something online, how exactly?  Invalid point.

Quote
11) With a $26k box for preorder they have a lot more incentive to keep people believing that they are legit in the hopes to get some orders (big money) for this

This is effectively a rehash of point 5 in a frilly dress... that said, Occams Razor applies.

Quote
It is still way too early to say this isnt a scam. I have been fooled by more elaborate scammers before.

Really?  That must have been an epic scam, then.  In either case, if it does end up being a scam, it truly will be epic.  However, I think far more likely that if it ends up being a complete bag of fail, it would be through over-reaching design and over-promising product and not through any intentional attempt to scam.

So you have one semi-valid point which can be fairly convincingly dismissed by applying Occams Razor.  Now there may be other reasons to think it's a scam, but there's nothing from this list that is even remotely valid.


If you're searching these lines for a point, you've probably missed it.  There was never anything there in the first place.
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December 01, 2011, 11:46:51 PM
 #1212

Ok then Inaba why dont you buy 7k of the boards off them then? The problem is the money they got from the preorders went to finance the development of the product. If they cannot develop everyone just loses their money. Why not produce something that can make the numbers they claim? Well thats simple they obviously just cant. By showing any product they make it look like they are more legit.

Given that they seem to have told many untruths I have a hard time accepting any of their claims now. Yes there are legitimate companies that scam and you can buy stuff from illigitimate companies but that is another red herring. When you are hiring several staff members as they claim to be you wouldnt be running out of your house still. To me the simplest explanation is that they just cant deliver on their claims. They seem very dishonest overall.
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December 01, 2011, 11:59:26 PM
 #1213

Inaba, be honest, did they give a discount for all the time you spent?

If so how much?

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December 02, 2011, 12:01:06 AM
 #1214

How badly do people want this to be a scam?  Are we turning on one of our own now?  Huh

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December 02, 2011, 12:06:07 AM
 #1215

You are making an excellent observation. I doubt it is something fixable in software.

It could be a hardware flaw, hardware design flaw, or simply a sales pitch lie.

In any case, your observation is not to be dismissed.

Dont put words in my mouth. If by some incredible oversight PR people misunderstood the design goals of the engineers, then thats obviously not fixable in software. But my point is this hasnt happened. A test board for whatever reason could have substantial higher power usage, I see no reason to assume they cant achieve their original goals or at least damn close to it.

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December 02, 2011, 12:09:09 AM
 #1216

Ok then Inaba why dont you buy 7k of the boards off them then? The problem is the money they got from the preorders went to finance the development of the product. If they cannot develop everyone just loses their money. Why not produce something that can make the numbers they claim? Well thats simple they obviously just cant. By showing any product they make it look like they are more legit.

Given that they seem to have told many untruths I have a hard time accepting any of their claims now. Yes there are legitimate companies that scam and you can buy stuff from illigitimate companies but that is another red herring. When you are hiring several staff members as they claim to be you wouldnt be running out of your house still. To me the simplest explanation is that they just cant deliver on their claims. They seem very dishonest overall.

You have never run a start up if you think just because you are hiring people you somehow require a office space.  

You seem to be mistaken as to what a red herring is... all of your arguments are red herrings and I demonstrated exactly WHY they were all red herrings.  Me pointing out that you can buy stuff from illegitimate companies and legitimate companies can scam you is a direct response to YOUR red herring and therefore can't be considered a red herring.

As to why I don't buy 7k of these boards, do you mean 7000 of the boards or $7000 worth of the boards?  If the former, because I do not have the funds to purchase that many even at half price.  If the latter, then again, it would be a matter of funding (though far more realisitic than 7k boards) - and I have, in fact, been considering my options.  I am already heavily invested in GPUs, coupled with the fact that half my hashing power consumption is "free" (in so far as I already pay for the power at my DC anyway), it's hard to justify the capital outlay.  THAT is MY primary motivator as to why I don't drop $7000 at the drop of a hat.

Now, to address your first paragraph, and believe me, I know that I should not be feeding a troll, but I will anyway; IF they were to fold up shop and take everyones money because they are unable to produce the product they believed they could produce AND they failed to refund it because it all went into development that went nowhere... THAT IS NOT A SCAM.  That is poor business practice.  I believe this may the fundamental flaw in your argument which I should have addressed last post.  The definition of a scam necessarily includes an intentional premeditated act of deceit to gain the confidence of the mark(s).  None - not one single point you made - apply under that definition.  It may be many things, up to and including poor judgement and after the fact thievery, but I find it incredibly dubious that it is a scam.  It would literally stretch the bounds of belief that so much effort, time and money would go into a scam of this sort when there are FAR, FAR better ways to produce the same scam with much less investment.  That is not to say it's impossible, it's just incredibly unlikely and frankly, it would be incredibly stupid of a scammer that is capable of orchestrating a scam like this to not be able to orchestrate a better managed scam that produces better fake product.


If you're searching these lines for a point, you've probably missed it.  There was never anything there in the first place.
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December 02, 2011, 12:14:11 AM
 #1217

Inaba, be honest, did they give a discount for all the time you spent?

If so how much?


Haha no and I am remaining as neutral as I can be in this, since I have no vested interest in the outcome either way up to this point.  At least no vested interest the rest of you don't already share.  That's another reason I haven't purchased any product, because if I am invested in it, then I will be a) more likely to see what I want to see and b) have a vested interest in promoting the product.  As it stands now, I can report exactly what I see and base my own decisions with a clear head as to what the reality of the situation is and not what I want it to be.  

If you're searching these lines for a point, you've probably missed it.  There was never anything there in the first place.
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December 02, 2011, 12:20:06 AM
 #1218

The arguments against this being a scam sound a lot like the arguments Bernie Madoff's investors would've made against people advising them that it was a scam.
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December 02, 2011, 12:28:05 AM
 #1219

Ok then Inaba why dont you buy 7k of the boards off them then? The problem is the money they got from the preorders went to finance the development of the product. If they cannot develop everyone just loses their money. Why not produce something that can make the numbers they claim? Well thats simple they obviously just cant. By showing any product they make it look like they are more legit.

Given that they seem to have told many untruths I have a hard time accepting any of their claims now. Yes there are legitimate companies that scam and you can buy stuff from illigitimate companies but that is another red herring. When you are hiring several staff members as they claim to be you wouldnt be running out of your house still. To me the simplest explanation is that they just cant deliver on their claims. They seem very dishonest overall.

You have never run a start up if you think just because you are hiring people you somehow require a office space.  

You seem to be mistaken as to what a red herring is... all of your arguments are red herrings and I demonstrated exactly WHY they were all red herrings.  Me pointing out that you can buy stuff from illegitimate companies and legitimate companies can scam you is a direct response to YOUR red herring and therefore can't be considered a red herring.

As to why I don't buy 7k of these boards, do you mean 7000 of the boards or $7000 worth of the boards?  If the former, because I do not have the funds to purchase that many even at half price.  If the latter, then again, it would be a matter of funding (though far more realisitic than 7k boards) - and I have, in fact, been considering my options.  I am already heavily invested in GPUs, coupled with the fact that half my hashing power consumption is "free" (in so far as I already pay for the power at my DC anyway), it's hard to justify the capital outlay.  THAT is MY primary motivator as to why I don't drop $7000 at the drop of a hat.

Now, to address your first paragraph, and believe me, I know that I should not be feeding a troll, but I will anyway; IF they were to fold up shop and take everyones money because they are unable to produce the product they believed they could produce AND they failed to refund it because it all went into development that went nowhere... THAT IS NOT A SCAM.  That is poor business practice.  I believe this may the fundamental flaw in your argument which I should have addressed last post.  The definition of a scam necessarily includes an intentional premeditated act of deceit to gain the confidence of the mark(s).  None - not one single point you made - apply under that definition.  It may be many things, up to and including poor judgement and after the fact thievery, but I find it incredibly dubious that it is a scam.  It would literally stretch the bounds of belief that so much effort, time and money would go into a scam of this sort when there are FAR, FAR better ways to produce the same scam with much less investment.  That is not to say it's impossible, it's just incredibly unlikely and frankly, it would be incredibly stupid of a scammer that is capable of orchestrating a scam like this to not be able to orchestrate a better managed scam that produces better fake product.



I meant $7k worth of the boards. You seem to have been charmed by whoever they sent that has you absolutely convinced this is not a scam. I am going objectively based on what I have read and heard when basing my comments and am definitely not a troll.

No I have not run a startup but hiring people would require both income and office space. So far their only income is from the preorders and that money is bound to run out sooner or later. If they do fold and disappear, how much did the orchistrator take? They could have taken 50% and technically to me that would be a scam.

By your definition of the scam it seems they have made many attempts to deceive us by their power/performance numbers. Why not produce something that has the numbers they claim? Its simple because it would cost too much. That and they actually had to run a verification which seems to have revealed all kinds of performance issues so they just put out the best that they had. I can overclock my CPU to 4.8Ghz but then it starts calculating everything incorrectly and I get bugs. It sounds to me like they might be overclocking their hardware to get the claimed performance and that is why it is unstable. Power consumption also rises exponentially which again ruins the benefits of FPGA.

As for stretching the bounds of your belief I would like to reinterate that it seems you have been charmed by these people and genuinely want to believe it is legit because you probably like the people you met. Scammers tend to be nice people. They may not be scammers per say but they are dishonest people at the very least. Once they ship a board that meets their specs I will finally believe them but until then they have been too dishonest for me to believe them 100%. If you think that scammers would not go to that length then you have never met a good one.
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December 02, 2011, 12:41:34 AM
 #1220

You seem to be mistaken as to what a red herring is... all of your arguments are red herrings and I demonstrated exactly WHY they were all red herrings.  Me pointing out that you can buy stuff from illegitimate companies and legitimate companies can scam you is a direct response to YOUR red herring and therefore can't be considered a red herring.

I started this thread mostly because I thought it was obviously a scam — and I was concerned about my bitcoin friends being ripped off and I thought some discussion would be good.

As more information has become available, I think that it's probably not a scam— and if it were one it would be a truly fantastically epic one.  I'm not sending in money yet either— simply because there are lots of reasons that it could fail or be delayed even excluding scams.

I agree with inaba here, the points raised are red herrings— they're not actually relevant to the questions that matter to people here.
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