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Author Topic: Biostar BTC-24GH Bitcoin Miner Review  (Read 8349 times)
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July 30, 2014, 01:19:51 AM
Last edit: August 01, 2014, 12:22:04 AM by infoporter
 #1

The BTC-24GH is Biostar’s first venture into the ASIC market, after already releasing special motherboards for GPU based mining. The BTC24-GH is a 24 GH/s device, or GigaHashes per second. This puts them in about the middle of the pack as compared to some other ASIC manufacturers with regards to their hashing power and their price.

About the Reviewer

I have been Bitcoin mining for about a year on and off with a Butterfly Labs Jalapeno, and some powerful GPUs before that. The speed of my Jalapeno and the speed of the BTC-24GH differ by about 17GH/s, but there are a good deal of other factors to compare such as ease of use, efficiency, and time to break even on the purchase that will be the deciding factor in my review of the BTC-24GH. In any case, it’s exciting to see a major hardware manufacturer like Biostar getting on board with creating some Bitcoin hardware.

About Biostar

Biostar, Biostar Microtech International Corp, is a Taiwan based motherboard manufacturer founded in 1986. Biostar, an ISO 9001 certified manufacturer, and is probably most well known for their motherboards, but have also branched out into designing and manufacturing other computer hardware such as video cards, barebones computers and industrial computers. They were actually the first GPU manufacturer to allow users to modify the voltages and frequencies to overclock their cards. Biostar has the manufacturing capabilities to take Bitcoin mining to the next level much faster than any other ASIC manufacturer out there, especially if they introduce overclocking to the hardware capabilities. We will have to see how their devices progress over time. Proclockers has been given a chance to review their first ASIC device, the Biostar BTC-24GH.

Biostar’s Take on the BTC-24GH

The "BTC-24GH", with 64 ASICs on-board that offers 24GH/s performance which is equivalent to more than 30 ATI 7970 graphic cards. ASIC mining solutions are good at solving mathematical hash functions; and their strong hashing power and low power usage, making it very efficient to use.

Packaging

The packaging of the BTC-24GH is very similar to how you would receive a Biostar motherboard. It even has the familiar sticker with the specifications on the side of the box. The box is just a bit smaller, perhaps the size of a Micro-ATX board or similar form factor. The board was fairly well padded with a static resistant bubble wrap bag inside the box. The special USB 2.0 connector that connects to the USB to COM adapter for the BTC-24GH board comes in it’s own small sealed static resistance bag.





Features and Specifications
24 GH/s (+/-10%)
130 W (+/-10%)
Interface by COM to USB 2.0 Cable
Flexible Mining System can stack up to 50 Board totaling 1200 GH/s hashing power.
64 ASIC mining chips per board.
Dimensions: 244x244 mm

System Requirements
Efficient, external cooling system
External 24 pin power supply with additional 4 pin.
USB 2.0 connection
Supported OS: Windows 7 or Windows 8
Motherboard standoffs (Suggested 5 cm)

Packing List
1x BTC-24GH
1x Power cable (board to board)
1x Quick Installation Guide
1x COM to COM cable (board to board)
1x USB to COM cable (PC to board)
1x Setup DVD

Please Note: The COM to COM cable and USB to COM cable will be connected in the package. Make sure to check that the pinouts match those in the following photo, or your miner will not start. I ran into this issue out of the box, which is a big factor in my overall rating of this product.

A Closer Look at the BTC-24GH

Here we take a closer look at the hardware for the Biostar BTC-24GH.








Configuring the Mining Software

The BTC-24GH comes with a special mining software called BMminer. The BMminer software can only be used on Windows, sorry Mac and Linux users. Hopefully they release drivers and software for each major OS, as many serious Bitcoin miners run Linux. The BMiner software was included in the setup program included on the DVD. It allows you to take screenshots of your current speed and that is about it. I could not find a log of any sort, which is lacking compared to the freely available CGMiner, BGMiner, and other open source mining software available. The fact that you must use BMminer to mine Bitcoin with the BTC-24GH is limiting it’s audience, as CGMiner, BMiner, and other applications run in Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Adding the COM to USB Driver

The manual suggests that you run the installation of the COM to USB driver as an Administrator. The screenshots in instruction manual do not really follow the software that was included. It shows that there is an actual driver file that you need to install, but you can actually just run the setup.exe that is included on the DVD now instead. I am guessing that the DVD was updated after the manual was printed, which is understandable with brand new hardware. It would be great if they could update their online PDF though.



Installing the Software

As I mentioned previously, the BTC-24GH has a proprietary mining application that is required to currently mine for Bitcoins. The mining software requires Microsoft Windows to install and run your BTC-24GH ASIC miner. The instructions for installing the mining software are fairly vague in the instruction manual. In fact, most of the instructions in the manual were fairly vague in general. They are actually wrong, as the whole software installation can now be done, from what I can tell, through a much easier setup application than what is actually described in the manual.

Editing the Mining Config

The manual said to start the install as Administrator, but apparently you cannot edit the Mining Config files directly in the mining software from what I found, even if you launch the mining software as Administrator. I ended up just starting up Notepad as Administrator to edit the files manually. The software updates immediately with the values that are saved.

The previous install process installed the mining software on my Desktop in:

C:\Users\Public\Desktop\BMminer.

You can find the mining worker config to edit in the C:\Users\Public\Desktop\BMminer\apps\miner\save\worker.txt file in that directory.

Testing - Let’s Start Mining

After fixing a fairly major oversight in regards to the manufacturer’s pre-assembled COM to USB adapter, and configure the mining software, I was able to finally start mining. The pinout was backwards from the factory, which is an honest mistake, but not something that I was expecting on a review unit. Once I switched the pinout, all LEDs lit up properly as per the instruction manual, the mining software started recognizing the chips, and we were registering shares on BTC Guild.

While the mining software runs, it appears on the screen in various background colors depending on what I can tell to maybe be the heat of the board. I’ve taken some important readings during operation that have opened up some new issues about the BTC-24GH’s operation. While the temperature of the board ran within it’s thermal range nicely, the Wattage readings were giving me some concern.

I ran the system for around 7 days, but on day 5 I had to power it down for a major electrical storm in my area. After initial burn in testing for a few days, I finally set up both of my Kill-a-Watt wattage readers to get some actual wattage specs. I was kind of shocked at how many total watts it was using even idle. It quickly became apparent that this device needed quite a lot of power once it actually started mining. The total was approximately 278 Watts including the external fan and the mining computer I have tweaked to be very low power usage at only 67W average. The BTC-24GH ASIC device itself failed to meet it’s own power variance of 10% by an additional 30W. That means the BTC-24GH is actually 173W, almost 25% over the advertised power rating of 130W, or even close to the 146W variance. One of the biggest factors in Bitcoin mining is the cost per MegaHash or GigaHash to actually mine the Bitcoin. The BTC-24GH has a 76.98 MH/s/W efficiency rating. The Butterfly Labs Jalapeno I own gets a 205.71 MH/s/W efficiency rating. The BTC-24GH device fails to meet it’s own factory specifications for it’s power usage and fails to receive a passing grade for MH/s/W, the standard in Bitcoin power usage.



Another important factor in Bitcoin mining is the actual overall SHA-256 hashing speed of the device. The speed of the BTC-24GH is a bit confusing, as it has 2 different hashing speeds displayed in the mining software at all times. One is System Speed, and the other is Share Speed. The Share Speed is consistently lower than the System Speed by about 1 GH/s, and the reported speed on BTC Guild is around another 1 GH/s lower than that. When I have used a Butterfly Labs Jalapeno, I had much less variance between what CGMiner, an open source virtual currency mining software, reported and what was being reported on BTC Guild’s charts.




When it comes down to it, the most important factor of mining Bitcoins is the overall cost of the mining hardware vs. it’s potential earnings. As of right now, 1 Bitcoin is equal to approx. $574. With a hefty 278W power usage and a 21.34 GH/s the BTC-24GH I am losing $0.24/day at the default kWh rate.  Source: http://www.bitcoinx.com/profit

Performance and Operating Specs
Temperature
25C-80C varying on chips across the board.

Software Reported Hashing Speed
Avg 23.93 - 23.94

Wattage
External Fan (Honeywell DB-100) = 45W
Low Power Windows PC = 60W approx.
BTC-24GH Idle USB Unplugged = 4.5W avg.
BTC-24GH Idle USB Plugged In = 67W avg.
BTC-24GH Mining = 173W avg. (30W over the 10% threshold)
Total Wattage to Mine = 278W approx.

MegaHashes/second/Watt Efficiency
76.98 MH/s/W

System Speed vs. Share Speed
System Speed = 23.94 GH/s
Share Speed = 22.5 GH/s

Mining Pool Earnings
0.00078418 BTC in 24 Hours
BTCGuild is reporting an average speed of 21.34 GH/s based on averages per 12 hours and 7 days of mining.

Price
$599.99 Retail

Comparison With Other ASICs

The BTC-24GH was quite a bit more work to get setup and start mining than the Butterfly Labs Jalapeno I purchased last year, but is quite a bit faster by design. Once I got the pinout issue figured out was fairly simple to get the hardware setup. The Jalapeno was essentially a plug and play unit, and did not require external cooling, or an external PSU. The BTC-24GH has “some assembly required” to get your miner running. You may even have to purchase an ATX power supply to run it if you don’t have a spare. This will definitely be a deterrent for some Bitcoin miners, as the ease of use of some of the newer ASIC devices on the market is quite noticeable. I believe the intention for the BTC-24GH is to appeal to hardcore modders like our audience here at ProClockers, but I’m not sure what the warranty is on this device, or the warranty implications for trying to overclock it. Biostar has always been a friend of the overclocking community, so possibly some day we will see either factory overclocked or the ability to customize your own overclocked ASIC chip settings out of the box. That would be a game changer..  

Conclusion

Overall I think that Biostar is a little late to the punch with the BTC-24GH, but I’m definitely not counting them out of the later rounds due to their manufacturing capabilities. It’s a little bit slower than I would like to see from a new ASIC unit at this point in the bout, but many other manufacturers have sold out of all of their original units. If Biostar can come down in price a little on these boards and include some additional hardware like the standoffs, the BTC-24GH could sell well to Bitcoin enthusiasts chomping at the bit to get new hardware.

Many of the ASIC manufacturers on the market also today take pre-orders for devices that don’t ship for months, or never ship. In many cases those orders that do eventually ship have been delayed multiple times before they are eventually delivered. During that time, the miner loses out on a serious amount of profit from their mining venture, especially if they purchased the device with Bitcoin. This is where Biostar can make up some serious ground on the competition. If they can beat the major ASIC manufacturers to market with the next big Bitcoin ASIC technology, and maybe even find a way to accept Bitcoin for their devices directly, then it will be a good day for Bitcoin miners everywhere. No more waiting for pre-orders and losing out on the Bitcoin gold rush.

I think that Biostar has done just the right thing by providing these devices for review. Designing and manufacturing Bitcoin mining hardware is a new venture for them, so these reviews should provide them with some excellent feedback from miners like myself that will help them make more competitive devices in the future. Watching major hardware manufacturers enter the game is exciting to say the least. Biostar could very well use the feedback from these reviews to create the next great advancement in ASIC technology, and I think at a much more affordable price than it’s competitors due to it’s manufacturing capabilities. While the BTC-24GH might not be the best ASIC on the market, the next Bitcoin ASIC from Biostar could be a serious contender in the ASIC marketplace.

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July 30, 2014, 01:39:08 AM
 #2

The BTC24-GH is a 24 GH/s device, or GigaHashes per second. This puts them in about the middle of the pack as compared to some other ASIC manufacturers with regards to their hashing power and their price.

Over 5W/Gh. Useless product is useless. Too little too late.

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July 30, 2014, 02:27:15 AM
 #3

Yeah, after I read the power readings and did the math it was quickly apparent that it was not what it was hoped to be. Hopefully Biostar can take the constructive criticism and make a better product for round 2.

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July 30, 2014, 02:50:47 AM
 #4

Where can I find these products for sale?

CSA/cUL Certified Power Distribution Panels - Basic, Switched, Metered. 1-3 phases. Up to 600V. NMC:N4F9qvHz11BHcc4nh1LCJFsrZhA1EWgVwj
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July 30, 2014, 02:52:28 AM
 #5

Not sure i'd take one, even free.
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July 30, 2014, 03:02:51 AM
 #6

If your power is free, and have a lot of old PSU available .. maybe they want to get rid of the stock .. If the sale points are not advertised .. there's no business out there Smiley

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July 30, 2014, 03:44:38 AM
 #7

The BTC24-GH is a 24 GH/s device, or GigaHashes per second. This puts them in about the middle of the pack as compared to some other ASIC manufacturers with regards to their hashing power and their price.

Over 5W/Gh. Useless product is useless. Too little too late.

+10 to this comment. 5W/Gh is insane. Most other ASIC companies are pushing 1.5W/Gh or less now. This is incredibly inefficient. Its like buying a motorcycle engine to power a bus.

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July 30, 2014, 04:14:16 AM
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Make it mine 240Ghash at 130watt
We will buy it
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July 30, 2014, 04:27:34 AM
 #9

It seems they're a year behind.  Hello! It's 2014!
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July 30, 2014, 04:38:40 AM
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July 30, 2014, 05:23:53 AM
 #11

I love that biostar or any motherboard company is looking into market.   I just wish they would do a little more current.  Like that BTC pro motherboard would have been amazing if it was produced a year before they did.  This seems like another product like it.

I applaud them for getting into market, just with with all their backing they would have done something a little different.  Where did you get this at?
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July 30, 2014, 06:06:00 AM
 #12

At 5W/GH/s they're running more expensively than Avalons and BFl 65nm gear - which can had for more or less free nowadays.  Thanks for the review but this item is dead before it even hit the shelves.
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July 30, 2014, 09:01:36 AM
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Very nice review, thanks for share your experience Smiley

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July 30, 2014, 12:46:59 PM
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At 5W/GH/s they're running more expensively than Avalons and BFl 65nm gear - which can had for more or less free nowadays.  Thanks for the review but this item is dead before it even hit the shelves.

if this is 110/130nm technology efficiency doesnt matter much - consider it as a small-batch test of thier design. If they go and replicate into 28nm they could catch up to the market quicly, and the review indicates a stable unit once mining. For a company like biostar playing catchup will be easier than it was for bitcoin manufacturers to oranise and fund thier first die-shrink


who knows - maybe a BTC-240GH is on the horizon at the same power draw (would require 28nm assuming this was 110nm)

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July 30, 2014, 03:03:02 PM
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Very nice review, thanks for share your experience Smiley

Agreed. Very nice effort writing this for us. I appreciate another honest vendor/manufacturer entering the market. It may not be competitive nonetheless it adds to the diversity.

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July 30, 2014, 06:12:16 PM
 #16

It is made ​​exclusively for collectors only.
Keep it in the box, never use and after years the value is bigger, if it ever can be mined.
Where can I buy it?

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July 30, 2014, 09:15:46 PM
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Thanks for the great Review.

This was our first take at a Bitcoin mining board. Our chip is simular to the Asicminer BE100 chip and the BitcoinGarden Blade miners chip. This was a experimental project to see how the public would react to a known Computer hardware manufacture get into Bitcoin mining Hardware. We have stuff under the cover at the moment for our mass public release of our REV 2 miner code named Tasha.

more info on the Biostar BTC-24GH here - http://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/event/bitcoin/page2.htm

Contact us via PM here for info on how to get a DEV REV 2 miner for Testing and Review.
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July 30, 2014, 09:20:41 PM
 #18

~~~ Quote to this ~~~

What you want as miners from a miner. For example Size, power hookup, Easy to use, lots of fuctionality? You tell us.
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July 30, 2014, 09:27:26 PM
 #19

~~~ Quote to this ~~~

What you want as miners from a miner. For example Size, power hookup, Easy to use, lots of fuctionality? You tell us.

Curious as to who manufactured the ASICs on your 24GH board, or rather, where did you guys acquire them from?  I think I make out "Cobra" on there and I can't find any information about that chip.
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July 30, 2014, 09:37:47 PM
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~~~ Quote to this ~~~

What you want as miners from a miner. For example Size, power hookup, Easy to use, lots of fuctionality? You tell us.

Curious as to who manufactured the ASICs on your 24GH board, or rather, where did you guys acquire them from?  I think I make out "Cobra" on there and I can't find any information about that chip.

Our Chip was a 110nm self designed and self Produced chip.

Chip closeup -http://i1346.photobucket.com/albums/p683/Sandy_Bruce/BTC-24GH/DSC04480.jpg

Picture from - http://forums.pureoverclock.com/bitcoin-forum/25402-biostar-btc-24gh-board-closeup-testing-exclusive.html
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