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Author Topic: FPGA - 1st Quarter 2012 Summary (BFL vs. Icarus ?)  (Read 5243 times)
bitlane
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February 23, 2012, 10:13:35 PM
 #1

So, just to get this right, as I might be a bit 'behind' the times as it were.....
As of February 2012, it seems that we clearly have 2 winning FPGA Designs/Projects that are essentially 'Production' ready and each have quite opposite strengths and merits worth taking note of.

Please correct me if anything below is WRONG.

-------------------------------------
Butterfly Labs BitForce Single
830 MH/s
85W
$600 USD (shipping not included)
**Sexy Software Support (CGMiner etc)
-------------------------------------
$0.72/MegaHash ..or.. 1.38 MegaHash/$Dollar
0.102W/MegaHash ..or.. 9.76 MegaHash/W


.......VS.......

-------------------------------------
ngzhang's "Icarus"
380 MH/s
20W
$570 USD (shipping not included)
**Specific Software (so far) <EDIT> Now with CGMiner 2.3.0 support.
-------------------------------------
$1.50/MegaHash ..or.. 0.67 MegaHash/$Dollar
0.053W/MegaHash ..or.. 19 MegaHash/W


I guess it's almost safe to say that when/IF choosing between the 2 designs/projects above, POWER CONSUMPTION, POWER PRICE and INITIAL INVESTMENT might be what it all comes down to.....(ie. Is your power more expensive over X amount of time, making the option of purchasing a BitForce Single less cost effective than purchasing a pair of Icarus units even though 'out of pocket' is more ?).....

Comparing them at face value....
BitForce = 2x MegaHash/$Dollar
Icarus = 2x MegaHash/Watt

I think for current GPU Miners, the Bitforce is the clear winner....but what about NEW Miners ? Might Icarus keep reoccurring costs down (even though initial is higher) due to ever increasing difficulty and decreasing mining profit ?

Is there anything else on the horizon even worth a mention ?

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February 23, 2012, 10:31:25 PM
 #2

You should also consider availability. Icarus is available right now (I think ?) and BFL's delivery date is kind of uncertain. Shipping costs are also important for people who live outside the US/China.
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February 23, 2012, 10:32:18 PM
 #3

Y U NO LIKE

X6500: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=40058.0
ztex: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=49180

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February 23, 2012, 10:36:18 PM
 #4

380 MH/s
20W
$570 USD (shipping not included)
**Specific Software (so far)


cgminer 2.3.0 supports icarus/
bitlane
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February 24, 2012, 04:16:53 AM
 #5

cgminer 2.3.0 supports icarus/

That is a huge bonus. Good to see.


Unfortunately I don't see either of those 2 products/projects as a very attractive solution as they really don't stand out in any way, but rather they are simply too average (or not extreme enough in a specific area....like, no focus)....?

The BitForce Single and the Icarus both do SOMETHING extremely well, on opposite sides of the 'spectrum' and are great competitors both on paper and in use. 1 being extremely power-usage-friendly for the performance achieved (the Icarus) and the other being extremely powerful for the money (Butterfly Labs).

Neither the Ztex nor X6500 units are real stand-outs unfortunately and unless something drastic were to happen (as in major price cuts, major performance increases or something rediculous such as single-digit max (W) power-draw for existing performance figures) with either project/product, I really couldn't see too many people ordering them over the other 2 above.....it simply wouldn't make sense.


You should also consider availability. Icarus is available right now (I think ?) and BFL's delivery date is kind of uncertain. Shipping costs are also important for people who live outside the US/China.

The BFL units have clearly began shipping, as there are a couple users on this forum who are currently running their pre-order units.
Availability is the one thing that could really KILL the BFL product, because they clearly have the 'bang-for-buck' covered....now they just need to come up with quantity and immediate availability.

Regardless of the BFL's raw power, I still am interested in the Icarus due to it's low power consumption and think that along with slight performance increases, the Icarus project should really focus on overall power draw, because I don't think they will be capable of competing with Butterfly Labs for outright horsepower on a single unit-vs-unit basis.....

My 2 bitcents...
bitlane.

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February 24, 2012, 04:27:33 AM
 #6

cgminer 2.3.0 supports icarus/

That is a huge bonus. Good to see.


Unfortunately I don't see either of those 2 products/projects as a very attractive solution as they really don't stand out in any way, but rather they are simply too average (or not extreme enough in a specific area....like, no focus)....?

The BitForce Single and the Icarus both do SOMETHING extremely well, on opposite sides of the 'spectrum' and are great competitors both on paper and in use. 1 being extremely power-usage-friendly for the performance achieved (the Icarus) and the other being extremely powerful for the money (Butterfly Labs).

Neither the Ztex nor X6500 units are real stand-outs unfortunately and unless something drastic were to happen (as in major price cuts, major performance increases or something rediculous such as single-digit max (W) power-draw for existing performance figures) with either project/product, I really couldn't see too many people ordering them over the other 2 above.....it simply wouldn't make sense.


You should also consider availability. Icarus is available right now (I think ?) and BFL's delivery date is kind of uncertain. Shipping costs are also important for people who live outside the US/China.

The BFL units have clearly began shipping, as there are a couple users on this forum who are currently running their pre-order units.
Availability is the one thing that could really KILL the BFL product, because they clearly have the 'bang-for-buck' covered....now they just need to come up with quantity and immediate availability.

Regardless of the BFL's raw power, I still am interested in the Icarus due to it's low power consumption and think that along with slight performance increases, the Icarus project should really focus on overall power draw, because I don't think they will be capable of competing with Butterfly Labs for outright horsepower on a single unit-vs-unit basis.....

My 2 bitcents...
bitlane.

Dont forget,none but the BFL has ANY warranty.At least BFL offers a 6 month & Ztex offers up to 2 years,maybe,Icarus & X6500 have NONE.So for $600 my money is on BFL Wink

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February 24, 2012, 05:55:14 AM
 #7

BFL had to add a second fan due to overheating, and even then it starts slowing down if room temperature isn't cool. This does not bode well long-term for them.

Icarus looks like a far better engineered product that will stay profitable a lot longer. Icarus also has a volume discount.

It comes down to how long do you plan on mining before you throw the FPGA away? 6 months? Then BFL if you can get one. 1+ years? Icarus.

Buy & Hold
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February 24, 2012, 05:55:42 AM
 #8

Ztex was always one step ahead. He still has the fastest board per chip. It is expensive but this boards and the software are (were) proven to work from the start. It's the most professional product in my eyes. But the others are catching up Wink

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February 24, 2012, 08:10:39 AM
 #9

cgminer 2.3.0 supports icarus/

That is a huge bonus. Good to see.


Unfortunately I don't see either of those 2 products/projects as a very attractive solution as they really don't stand out in any way, but rather they are simply too average (or not extreme enough in a specific area....like, no focus)....?



bitlane,

a x6500 is as good as Icarus, performs as well and costs as much, so why don't you consider it as a good solution?

spiccioli.
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February 24, 2012, 09:58:48 AM
 #10

Theres another important factor: resale value. BFL have almost zero resale value. It can only mine, so only miners will be interested in buying it. Icarus is a development board, cheapest on the market (with 2 LX150). Not only miners may want to buy it. And I think that 200MH/s from LX150 its not maks. BFL proved that for their product it is.

Under development Modular UPGRADEABLE Miner (MUM). Looking for investors.
Changing one PCB with screwdriver and you have brand new miner in hand... Plug&Play, scalable from one module to thousands.
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February 24, 2012, 11:03:19 AM
 #11

cgminer 2.3.0 supports icarus/

That is a huge bonus. Good to see.


Unfortunately I don't see either of those 2 products/projects as a very attractive solution as they really don't stand out in any way, but rather they are simply too average (or not extreme enough in a specific area....like, no focus)....?



bitlane,

a x6500 is as good as Icarus, performs as well and costs as much, so why don't you consider it as a good solution?

spiccioli.


Oh that. That is because of his ignorance or bias.

Also ztex has a warranty and its made by respectable company in Germany.

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February 24, 2012, 12:17:37 PM
 #12

Also ztex has a warranty and its made by respectable company in Germany.
Not at all, that was not my own experience.
Both Icarus and X6500 manufacturers, gave me far better support and respect than ztex.
I do NOT recommend going with ztex if you have another option.

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February 24, 2012, 04:33:23 PM
 #13

Ztex is a very nice guy and very helpful...
Gusty,if you don't know what a power source is,then stay away from electronics ( eg: FPGA boards).
Don't blame ZTEX for your 10 year old kid's knowledge OR tests?!
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February 24, 2012, 04:51:02 PM
 #14

ztek board is interesting but 200MH/s is just too low in face of 800 MH/s from BFL.  There is something to be said about the simplicity of a single large hashing engine.  But don't count ztek out (OP I think your BFL vs Icarus comparison is too narrow). 


ztek has:
highest MH/W
highest MH out of a Spartan-6 LX150 (most efficient bitstream).  
the company has also been around a long time and provides non Bitcoin products (some permanence is Bitcoin market dries up).
EU regulations require them to offer a 2 year warranty.
Regular firmware and software updates boosting miner performance.
overheat detection, and floating mhz adjustment in realtime based on error rate.

The problem is 200 MH/s is just too small.  It makes it very difficult to get costs down.  Likely nobody is beating BFL on cost but they need to get close.

I think a 4x LX150 board would be interesting.  It would have higher unit cost but power consumption should be ~35W
850 MH/s for 35W would be very impressive.  Now the LX150 costs ~$150 ea in bulk so that puts $600+ just for FPGAs.  In large volume the boards cost $100 over FPGA cost.  A 4 FPGA unit should have some reduction in parts (i.e. 1 USB controller vs 4, 1 40W DC PSU vs 4x 10W.  It may be possible to put a single large heatsink with 120mm (or 1400mm fan) across all 4 FPGAs ? reducing heatsink and fan costs.

Although it wouldn't be as cheap as BFL single, a 850 MH/s @ 35W board made by ztek for $800 would be a solid competitor.  Even $900 would be viable if BFL raises their price to $700 after pre-orders.
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February 24, 2012, 05:43:17 PM
 #15

Ztex is a very nice guy and very helpful...
Gusty,if you don't know what a power source is,then stay away from electronics ( eg: FPGA boards).
Don't blame ZTEX for your 10 year old kid's knowledge OR tests?!

Thanks for your insights, Stefan.   Wink

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February 24, 2012, 08:14:01 PM
 #16

Gusti,
U're so wrong....
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February 24, 2012, 08:52:02 PM
 #17

Ah, "der Brutzler" is back Cheesy. As far as i know, you are the only one that destroyed 2 boards in a row. Ha ha

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February 24, 2012, 08:55:52 PM
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Ah, "der Brutzler" is back Cheesy. As far as i know, you are the only one that destroyed 2 boards in a row. Ha ha

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February 24, 2012, 10:35:40 PM
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It's ZTEX's fault ...he should take my advice and put this label on all the boxes he ships. Cheesy



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February 24, 2012, 10:41:01 PM
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Ah, "der Brutzler" is back Cheesy. As far as i know, you are the only one that destroyed 2 boards in a row. Ha ha

Yeah, think of it as an extreme quality control.
German is weak, US and chinese is ok.   Grin

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