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Author Topic: Nanominer Announcement  (Read 11044 times)
Wandering Albatross
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March 14, 2012, 12:17:02 AM
 #21

Quote from: Dexter770221
You've done that before when you asked for donations. I've counted alot on that 75MH/s from 22k altera cyclone and I donated. They are in easy to assembly TQFP package and costs 36$.

Did you get a refund? A horse has to win a race or two before I'd put any money on it.

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Wandering Albatross
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March 14, 2012, 12:27:09 AM
 #22

Quote from: wondermine
Although I'm unsure of what Silicon Valley professional rates have to do with anything here,

They have to do with eldentyrell (as his post said). There is no price mentioned only that eldentyrell has put many hours into the work and wants money for the time spent. But no one knows how much $$ will be needed for eldentyrell to release the code, if it's ever released. It seems that the alternative is to
have people send boards so the encrypted bitstream can be loaded. Not a very popular idea I'd say.

I would expect that all the currentt board makers based on the xilinx xl150 would really like to get 300MH/s per chip.


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March 18, 2012, 07:08:55 AM
 #23

Two important things there:
1) Making a PCB for 8 FPGAs forces people to buy in multiples of 8.  That's an expensive board.  Wouldn't you rather have the option of buying those 8 chips one at a time?
2) If you want to do the mass thing, you go ASIC, you don't buy 250K FPGAs.  When you pay for an FPGA you pay for a)performance and b)reprogrammabililty.  If you want a lot of them, and you don't need part b, you're going to save by making your own ASIC.  But that day has not come for bitcoin, not by a long shot.

The whole idea of a multiple FPGA units per card is to actually save money on building the cards by benefiting from bulk chip orders pricing and pass that saving to the customer, since having cards with say 10 chips would likely cost around 70% of buying 10 of the singles. If you can afford a 350+250/card starter you can easily afford an upgrade card that costs around that price. And having a 4 chip card starting around $700, $1200 for 8 and so on and forth would make more sense than buy lots of boards that give no nominal performance increase... Why pay $1000 for 800mh/s in 4 daughter cards when the BFL gets you 830~mh/s for $599 without the need to buy an additional main board to plug it in? It's very poor efficiency and not cost effective to have the performance upgrades so small, they shouldn't be less than ~500mh/s per card ideally more or you will need a warehouse to store all those little boards to get any high end performance. I am sure you can't put too many upgrade cards per motherboard either, which means you will need another $350 board to add more after a few modules upgrades, speaking of which... how many upgrade modules can your main board hold before I would have to buy another board to get more cards?
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March 19, 2012, 08:23:51 PM
 #24

I am sure you can't put too many upgrade cards per motherboard either, which means you will need another $350 board to add more after a few modules upgrades, speaking of which... how many upgrade modules can your main board hold before I would have to buy another board to get more cards?

If you read the full description you'll see that one motherboard does not limit you to a certain number of devices.  They run on a bus, which is extensible indefinitely, at least in theory.  The bus can be connected with stacked headers, or via a jumper cable, so there's no capacity limit physically either.  There will be a firmware imposed limit to ensure performance.  Since the firmware will be open source, you'll be welcome to remove said limit.

Perhaps, if there's a lot of demand for multiple-miner boards, I'll adapt the design.  Until that time, as it's been made abundantly clear, I need to prove myself, and to do so I think a good place to start is affordable, easily extensible, single core miners.

Additionally, I'd like to know where these bulk FPGA discounts are from, I've yet to find a distributor who will give more than a pittance of a discount on large orders.

Exact control and mining hardware specifications are listed in the newly updated first post.  Specifics can be found there, but the control device will be a Microchip PIC32 and the FPGA will be a Xilinx Spartan-6 XC6SLX150 running at 200 MH/s with the current firmware.

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Jason
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March 19, 2012, 09:49:59 PM
 #25

Consider adding a few extra pieces of hardware that are missing from existing FPGA mining systems in order to allow it to operate in standalone mode.  I'm talking only about some SRAM, and ethernet port, and an SD slot.  The purpose of these additions is to allow the FPGA to run Linux via a soft-processor on board.  I'm assuming you're already planning to include some flash memory to hold the bitstream so that the device can coldstart by itself.

I have used just such an approach on my Altera DE2-70 development board.  It runs no-mmu uClinux on a Nios II soft processor.  Both the Nios II and a slightly modified version of fpgaminer's FPGA mining code are loaded into the bitstream.  I've nearly completed a very simple C-based miner (no-mmu uClinux is too limited for existing miners as far as I can see).  It communicates directly with mining pools via JSON/HTTP in order to fetch work and report results.  It is all somewhat preliminary at this point, but I hope to have a fully functional system running within a week or so (albeit at a measly 25MH/s which is all I can squeeze from the DE2-70).

It should also be straightforward to get uClinux running with an MMU on an FPGA which creates a lot of flexibility and opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of customizing the system.  For example, a tiny web server could be run in order to allow the user to control and configure the system (just as is done on many consumer grade wireless routers).  In fact I will probably do this myself as soon as I finish with the no-mmu system.  BTW, uClinux runs on the Xilinx MicroBlaze soft-CPU as well.

If this is of interest and if you'd like some assistance creating it, let me know.

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March 19, 2012, 09:57:48 PM
 #26

They run on a bus, which is extensible indefinitely, at least in theory.  The bus can be connected with stacked headers, or via a jumper cable, so there's no capacity limit physically either.

Maybe you should repeat your first years electronics course, and the influence of capacitive bus loading and line inductance on speed. Please don't forget that you have only a limited driver strength. I bet just jumper wires with many connectors inbetween and no termination will give intresting results in signal integrity.

Additionally, I'd like to know where these bulk FPGA discounts are from, I've yet to find a distributor who will give more than a pittance of a discount on large orders.

Maybe you could ask ztex for that information. In the past he had a license production offer.
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March 19, 2012, 11:38:14 PM
 #27

Maybe you should repeat your first years electronics course, and the influence of capacitive bus loading and line inductance on speed. Please don't forget that you have only a limited driver strength. I bet just jumper wires with many connectors inbetween and no termination will give intresting results in signal integrity.

I was asked about how the boards are expanded upon, and gave a short answer that summarizes the solution.  I'm well aware of the challenges that are encountered when transmitting signals.  I didn't going to go into absurd detail, but in anticipation of people getting irritated that I say that a bus is indefinitely extensible, I even said that to maintain performance there would be a limit imposed on devices per bus.  That's not to say there aren't other things in place to preserve performance, but I figured it would be sufficient to say that, at least.  Apparently it isn't, and I'll try to do better when answering questions in the future.

Consider adding a few extra pieces of hardware that are missing from existing FPGA mining systems in order to allow it to operate in standalone mode.  I'm talking only about some SRAM, and ethernet port, and an SD slot.

These I am taking into account, except for perhaps an SD card slot, but I figured the good folks around here would probably just be more interested in what I'm using for hashing, and maybe what I'm using for control, and not so much the infrastructure chips that will make it all possible.  The MCU in particular might get replaced with an AVR32 or an ARM device.  I won't be running Linux on the MCU, whatever it ends up being, because that's too much overhead.  However, given the board's specifications, I'll make sure that if people would like they can program the device with Linux, provided the resources to do so don't make the board cost anymore than it already would.

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March 20, 2012, 12:47:48 AM
 #28

These I am taking into account, except for perhaps an SD card slot, but I figured the good folks around here would probably just be more interested in what I'm using for hashing, and maybe what I'm using for control, and not so much the infrastructure chips that will make it all possible.  The MCU in particular might get replaced with an AVR32 or an ARM device.  I won't be running Linux on the MCU, whatever it ends up being, because that's too much overhead.  However, given the board's specifications, I'll make sure that if people would like they can program the device with Linux, provided the resources to do so don't make the board cost anymore than it already would.

You make a good point.  I'm just doing this because it interests me and not because I want to make money mining.  However, I would be curious to know what the folks out there who are considering using an FPGA-based solution for mining would prefer:  an FPGA that plugs into a USB or serial port and requires a host like the existing systems, or one that can also run as a standalone system, possibly even on a wireless network.  Would that be worth another $10-$20 to the price tag?

Adding an SD card interface is almost free.  For the cost of a socket (around $3) and a bit of space on the PC board you're done.  The SPI interface only needs 4 connections + power.  USB (host mode) would be nicer, but somewhat more complex as you'd probably need a USB controller.

If you're going to add an MCU to the board anyway, and if you're considering an ARM processor, then you should know that there are a number of ARM9 processors that include an MMU and can run Linux if you provide them with sufficient amounts of memory.  But I suspect you may be looking at MCUs that have fixed amounts of on-board memory which is far short of what is required to run Linux.  Actually, I'm curious to know why you'd want to have an external MCU when the FPGA is fully capable of booting itself from compatible flash memory and a soft-CPU equivalent to an AVR32 would use less than a thousand LEs?

The advantage of Linux over rolling your own custom firmware is that it saves you a lot of re-inventing the wheel, especially for standalone operation.  It will be *much* faster to develop under the Linux operating system than it would be under Atmel Studio for instance.  Linux drivers exist for a lot of hardware (ethernet/sd over spi/usb/etc.) whereas the selection in Atmel Studio (or AVR Codevision for that matter) is much more limited.  And what is the added cost anyway?  An extra watt of power dissipation?  A few dollars in parts?

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March 20, 2012, 03:09:30 AM
 #29

I would definitively prefer a stand alone unit, if it's convenient to manage.
even 20$ extra for such wouldn't matter at all, because that's saved in electricity costs of having a host to run them, nevermind cost of the host machine ...

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March 20, 2012, 01:57:55 PM
 #30

If you're going to localize the ethernet communication to create a standalone unit, why not throw a cheap LCD and driver on the board to indicate hash rate, etc.
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March 21, 2012, 12:32:59 AM
 #31

If something running without any host machine would be something you're interested in, I'll look into modifying the design.  It means it's going to probably cost a little more (not tons, but some).  It also means I'll switch over the MCU I'm using to something more effective for the job.
As far as an LCD, that's doable, as long as you understand that it's going to make it cost more.  Same with, say, WiFi compatibility.  Add about $20 per "feature" like this to the price of the unit (main board, that is).

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March 21, 2012, 02:21:55 AM
 #32

If something running without any host machine would be something you're interested in, I'll look into modifying the design.  It means it's going to probably cost a little more (not tons, but some).  It also means I'll switch over the MCU I'm using to something more effective for the job.
As far as an LCD, that's doable, as long as you understand that it's going to make it cost more.  Same with, say, WiFi compatibility.  Add about $20 per "feature" like this to the price of the unit (main board, that is).

Maybe as addon cards those would be suitable? People could choose which features they want included, the extra cost in base product is the added headers and design.
Would that work?

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March 21, 2012, 04:04:58 AM
 #33

Why not add a USB controller (controller IC plus socket available for not more than $4 and maybe 1 square inch of board space)?  USB host mode gives you a lot of flexibility to add any device you can find or write a driver for in the future.

You can get cheap LCD displays on eBay for around $4 for a 16x2 model.  Of course you'll need some headers to mount it, but that shouldn't add more than another $2 or $3 to the price tag.

Same thing goes for an SD card socket (or microSD if you want to reduce the board space required).  Around $3 is all it costs for the socket and you don't need any other support chips that you don't already have for other circuitry.

What other peripherals?  Oh, an ethernet port.  Microchip makes some suitable controller chips for about $4 (SPI interface).  Add a socket for under $2.

The SRAM SDRAM hurts a bit more.  For 32MB (32-bit wide), we're looking at maybe $15.

So altogether that's around $35 extra in parts to the price tag to be able to run embedded Linux and thus support full standalone operation.

It occurs to me that you could make two models.  One master model which is capable of standalone operation.  One slave model which can plug into a master model and extend it's mining capacity (and save you up to $35 in parts at the same time).  Since there's no need for a high speed bus between master and slave (they would operate as separate miners), you'd have a lot of flexibility in how you implemented that as well.

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March 21, 2012, 09:43:23 AM
 #34

The SRAM hurts a bit more.  For 32MB (32-bit wide), we're looking at maybe $15.

Such largisch SRAM is expensive, and you need several Chips,  SDRAM  would be better solution, as several MCUs have already the requiered Interface.
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March 21, 2012, 01:13:27 PM
 #35

Such largisch SRAM is expensive, and you need several Chips,  SDRAM  would be better solution, as several MCUs have already the requiered Interface.

You are right, and indeed I was quoting SDRAM prices.  I just edited my post to reflect this.

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March 21, 2012, 07:37:11 PM
 #36

How about using thermogenerators to power wireless and cooling fan or a peltier? Once programmed via USB then they only need to connect to a power source.
See micropelt.

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March 21, 2012, 07:54:31 PM
 #37

earlier today I was pointed in the direction of Xilinx Zynq 7000 EPP which are ARM processors with an FPGA on die, and including an accelerated SHA256 hash engine. However I couldn't determine what level the FPGA matched at.

Anybody seen this, as I've been informed a european company is doing something in this region with lots of chips on a board? I don't have any other details beyond the chip.

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March 21, 2012, 08:46:30 PM
 #38

How about using thermogenerators to power wireless and cooling fan or a peltier? Once programmed via USB then they only need to connect to a power source.
See micropelt.
Peltier chips are able to cool things well, but they suck up enormous amounts of energy and spit out a heck of a lot of heat.

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March 21, 2012, 10:39:22 PM
 #39

watching

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March 21, 2012, 11:08:58 PM
 #40

Why not add a USB controller (controller IC plus socket available for not more than $4 and maybe 1 square inch of board space)?  USB host mode gives you a lot of flexibility to add any device you can find or write a driver for in the future.

You can get cheap LCD displays on eBay for around $4 for a 16x2 model.  Of course you'll need some headers to mount it, but that shouldn't add more than another $2 or $3 to the price tag.

Same thing goes for an SD card socket (or microSD if you want to reduce the board space required).  Around $3 is all it costs for the socket and you don't need any other support chips that you don't already have for other circuitry.

What other peripherals?  Oh, an ethernet port.  Microchip makes some suitable controller chips for about $4 (SPI interface).  Add a socket for under $2.

The board, as advertised, already has USB and Ethernet functionality and connectivity with the firmware.

Yes, perhaps an expansion card with LCD capability could be arranged, no they are not that expensive.  Perhaps I will add a communications port for peripherals that can be purchased seperately on these counts (LCD, SD, etc.) without having to include them in the project and make the whole thing more expensive.  I will not, however, impose features on people.  It will be barebones, then will have the capability to expand with whatever fancy parts you'd like to have.

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