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Author Topic: FPGA life expectancy?  (Read 4551 times)
PulsedMedia
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March 10, 2012, 03:16:15 PM
 #1

I'm trying to figure out what should be the next mining related purchases i do, but one question remains: What is the life expectancy of FPGA based miners?
Has people have them fail?
How long were they running before they failed?
and how many do you got which are still running, and how long has each been running?

That data would help me calculate the annual failure rate, from which one can derive the expected average lifetime Smiley

Versus GPUs it seems people expect GPUs to have an average lifetime of 3years, correct me if i'm wrong.

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Gabi
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March 10, 2012, 03:24:05 PM
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I think GPU can happily mine for much more than 3 years if kept at a decent temperature.
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March 10, 2012, 03:39:56 PM
 #3

I don't think there are enough FPGA boards out there to reliably calculate a failure rate. I haven't heard any reports of failing FPGAs so far, and most issues seem to be either software or "heatsink needs to be reseated" kind of things.

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March 10, 2012, 04:07:04 PM
 #4

FPGA usually run much cooler than a GPU. I suppose that give them a longer life expectancy

Remember that it's all solid state things
PulsedMedia
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March 10, 2012, 05:07:01 PM
 #5

Yeah, it's quite soon to get reliable figures, but a general direction is possible to calculate.
With enough of them out there, it will be possible to calculate quite early on quite precisely. That's how manufacturers get the MTBF readings - not by testing a huge amount of the product for years upon years.

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March 10, 2012, 06:57:16 PM
 #6

Heat is the enemy of most electronics including FPGA's.  Overclock them 20% and increase their heat output by 50% and you are reducing their life.  Properly cooled and stock speeds/specs and they should last more then ten years. 

PulsedMedia
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March 10, 2012, 07:06:43 PM
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Heat is the enemy of most electronics including FPGA's.  Overclock them 20% and increase their heat output by 50% and you are reducing their life.  Properly cooled and stock speeds/specs and they should last more then ten years. 

Stock clock for a miner, or stock clock as meant by chip mfg Wink

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March 11, 2012, 01:52:46 AM
 #8

I think GPU can happily mine for much more than 3 years if kept at a decent temperature.
GPUs can last way longer than that, but generally people would throw them away after 5 yrs.
I've yet to have a GPU fail on me besides the fan, which is no big deal.

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PulsedMedia
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March 11, 2012, 01:56:22 AM
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I think GPU can happily mine for much more than 3 years if kept at a decent temperature.
GPUs can last way longer than that, but generally people would throw them away after 5 yrs.
I've yet to have a GPU fail on me besides the fan, which is no big deal.

Mining is a 24/7 task ... Does not relate what's the MTBF in the regular user usage and what is it in 24/7 100% utilization.

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March 11, 2012, 03:19:20 AM
 #10

Heat is the enemy of most electronics including FPGA's.  Overclock them 20% and increase their heat output by 50% and you are reducing their life.  Properly cooled and stock speeds/specs and they should last more then ten years. 

Stock clock for a miner, or stock clock as meant by chip mfg Wink

Stock clock for chip mfg.  If the FPGA based miner manufacturer (like Butterfly) has run the chip beyond manufacturer specs it is in effect overclocked and all bets are off on that ten year life.   

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March 11, 2012, 03:27:34 AM
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I noticed the big 330uf capacitors on the x6500 are only rated for 2000 hours which is about 2 months and 3 weeks my guess is they would last a whole lot longer though.....

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March 11, 2012, 04:36:44 AM
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I noticed the big 330uf capacitors on the x6500 are only rated for 2000 hours which is about 2 months and 3 weeks my guess is they would last a whole lot longer though.....

The hours is at max rated temp. Rule of thumb is that for every 10 °C lower it doubles the life expectancy.

PulsedMedia
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March 11, 2012, 11:05:24 AM
 #13

In other words the life expectancy is anything between 3months and 10years, and no one has nfi.

Thing is i'm trying to decide to invest between 7970s and FPGAs, and it all depends upon which i can expect to utilize longer ... The payoff period in any case is going to be a long one, thanks to high electricity prices (0.19$/kWh)

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March 11, 2012, 03:16:47 PM
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In other words the life expectancy is anything between 3months and 10years, and no one has nfi.

Thing is i'm trying to decide to invest between 7970s and FPGAs, and it all depends upon which i can expect to utilize longer ... The payoff period in any case is going to be a long one, thanks to high electricity prices (0.19$/kWh)

Its hard to predict a payoff period because the price of bitcoin is so unstable. If the price goes up your payoff period goes down but if the price goes down your payoff period goes up. You also have to factor in difficulty if difficulty goes up your payoff period goes up if it goes down your payoff period goes down..... and there is absolutely no way to know what these values are going to be so I'd say plan for the worst.

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March 11, 2012, 04:33:39 PM
 #15

In distributed computing there are some ppl that have some 10 years old or older CPU wich crunch 24/24 and they still work without problems. Sure, now they are mostly useless but they still work.
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March 11, 2012, 05:18:10 PM
 #16

Quote from: Defkin
The hours is at max rated temp. Rule of thumb is that for every 10 °C lower it doubles the life expectancy.

Only double for 10C? I don't know much about caps but my gut thinks it would increase life by more than double.

Hopefully they are not like those infamous caps in the iMac-G5

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PulsedMedia
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March 11, 2012, 05:27:37 PM
 #17

yeah sounds a bit like electronics skills come in handy with FPGAs to keep them working, and AC not a bad idea.
Was thinking of installing to my office 1kW AC unit, afaik those small ones too get upto 1:3 efficiency ... I could keep the FPGAs churning happily @ 17C ambient all summer through.
GPUs not so much, but i got another location which is 900m3 of poorly insulated space to dissipate heat into ... Before even installing exhaust and intake duct fans.

Problem is electricity costs here 0.19$/kWh, but on 2nd location it's billed only once a year so i can choose the best time to sell BTCs to cover that. Trouble is, i've had now 2 GPUs fail within a week...
Even before using GPUs for BTC i've had several fail on me, so i'm starting to think the average lifetime expectancy might be quite a bit lower than generally thought for GPUs.

FPGAs are OC'd to their very edge for mining purposes as well...
Top that of that BFL wants over 80$ for shipping for each one .. Ridiculous - and even tho i have warehouse to have shipped to @ States, there is no method for me to use that address as Paypal doesn't accept foreign shipping addresses ...

So i'm stuck with Icarus/X6500/Z-Tex as my FPGA options, from which Icarus looks to me by far superior.
Tho, i can probably offset some of the acquirement cost by MFG'ng stackable casings for them with optimized cooling Wink But no way knowing before i have enough to properly test and design the casing.

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March 11, 2012, 06:00:49 PM
 #18

So i'm stuck with Icarus/X6500/Z-Tex as my FPGA options, from which Icarus looks to me by far superior.

Just out of curiosity, how do you come to that conclusion?
What are the cons of X6500 and ztex?

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PulsedMedia
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March 11, 2012, 06:19:00 PM
 #19

So i'm stuck with Icarus/X6500/Z-Tex as my FPGA options, from which Icarus looks to me by far superior.

Just out of curiosity, how do you come to that conclusion?
What are the cons of X6500 and ztex?

Mostly personal preference. That's why looks to me by far superior Smiley
Actually i mean more like "so far", kind of language barrier going on there.

Z-Tex tho is expensive per Mhash, far too expensive.
X6500 is retailed by Cablesaurus and i dislike cablesaurus too much for their insane markups, but more the reason was package contents are not listed (no idea does it even include power adapter, and can i get it with euro plug)

Icarus comes with best performance guarantee too, and dunno, i somehow like to buy stuff from china Smiley Some of chinese stuff is just awesome value, tho sometimes you get total garbage. In some things tho they price themselves out of the game, being greedy and all that stuff, but that usually happens only with outsourcing, the reason for outsourcing is lower cost, and they expect you to still pay almost same rate as a local guy without language barrier, high education and higher quality of work.
Developers are paid 70-120$ a week generally in China but the outsourcing companies are asking for 1125$+ for junior developer a week. Local junior developer costs half of that (straight out of school or still at school) here at Finland. Tho, if that junior developer has even 1-2 years of work experience salary is easily doubled up at times.

I'd really like to get few BFL Singles, but the customer service totally sucks, the insane shipping costs (basicly a markup, nothing else), and their intention to significantly raise prices (likely pricing themselves out of the game) makes me not to want to put significant effort in using BFL Singles. (Developing cluster cooling, automation if needed, racking/stacking, things which are specific to BFL Singles and not easy to adapt to other FPGA miners)
Just something puts me seriously off about them, they feel arrogant.
No other company has issues on shipping to non-PP registered shipping address neither, so that puts me off as well.
Also the fact i have to likely wait 3months for delivery....


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March 11, 2012, 07:26:32 PM
 #20

So i'm stuck with Icarus/X6500/Z-Tex as my FPGA options, from which Icarus looks to me by far superior.
Just out of curiosity, how do you come to that conclusion?
What are the cons of X6500 and ztex?
ngzhang offers great customer support and Icarus boards have the highest resale value compared to X6500 because there are many available IO pins (80-100+), not to mention chip interconnection paths.
Also his design uses 100% solid state capacitors which is good for longevity.

* I'm not implying that X6500 is bad, just pointed some pros of Icarus.

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