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Author Topic: Mini Rig card = 2 x Altera Arria II EP2AGX260  (Read 38428 times)
DiabloD3
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June 01, 2012, 04:42:48 PM
 #21

Doesnt Altera offer Hardcopy? BFL could very well be selling ASICs.... just SASICs instead of the kind we wanted.
[/b
Yes, Altera has the Hardcopy program.
But BFL has stated to announce full custom ASIC's.
An Altera Hardcopy solution is not the thing which is named a full custom ASIC.
 

They also announced 1gh in 40 watts.

I'm not sure, but wasn't it 1.05GH @ 20W.
However, I understand what you want to say and I also have my doubts.
Let's see with what they really will come up. The technical data (e.g. MH/W) will show us what technology they are using....

Thats funny, I originally wrote 20, but thought that was too low for some reason.

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June 01, 2012, 08:01:30 PM
 #22

Search eBay completed listings for Xilinx or Altera and you will find outdated (but still new and in many cases sealed) chips at 2-10% of retail value.

If you had the ability to assemble a board you could build a cheap little FPGA mining farm.
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June 02, 2012, 06:13:02 AM
 #23

I'm wonering if it is considered by BFL to be a thought of miners to purchase the Singles and/or Mini-Rig to maintain some kind of resale value in the event that bitcoin has some hypothetical collapse (somehow). Specialized ASIC's would have no resale value whatsoever, whereas having high end Startic chips wouldn't be as bad.
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June 02, 2012, 12:56:35 PM
 #24

Latelly, I've been seeing pictures of BFL's in this forum with an Sata connector.
I even saw one picture some one posted with lot's of connectors and, although I realised their purpose is to provide a communication link, the first thing I thought they were was to connect an hard drive and create hardware encryption like this one: http://www.cast-inc.com/ip-cores/encryption/sha-256/index.html
So, two thought rushed through my brain:
- Why can't we use one of this to mine?
- Why can't we re-purpose BFL's and *ASICS to do hardware encryption?
The latest thought would impact the resale value, right?

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June 02, 2012, 01:08:17 PM
 #25

Latelly, I've been seeing pictures of BFL's in this forum with an Sata connector.
I even saw one picture some one posted with lot's of connectors and, although I realised their purpose is to provide a communication link, the first thing I thought they were was to connect an hard drive and create hardware encryption like this one: http://www.cast-inc.com/ip-cores/encryption/sha-256/index.html
So, two thought rushed through my brain:
- Why can't we use one of this to mine?
- Why can't we re-purpose BFL's and *ASICS to do hardware encryption?
The latest thought would impact the resale value, right?

re SATA plugs: they're just reusing an industry standard connector. It has enough pins to run serial over, so its fine. External 4x SATA/SAS has often been ran over Infiniband connectors because its cheaper and higher quality than using eSATA, and I've seen other things reuse SATA plugs. Its not particularly a new idea.

You can't reuse ASICs because they're designed specifically to ONLY for this. Thats why its an ASIC.

BFL FPGAs COULD be repurposed, but BFL requires encrypted bitstreams.

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June 02, 2012, 01:36:19 PM
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re SATA plugs: they're just reusing an industry standard connector. It has enough pins to run serial over, so its fine. External 4x SATA/SAS has often been ran over Infiniband connectors because its cheaper and higher quality than using eSATA, and I've seen other things reuse SATA plugs. Its not particularly a new idea.

You can't reuse ASICs because they're designed specifically to ONLY for this. Thats why its an ASIC.

BFL FPGAs COULD be repurposed, but BFL requires encrypted bitstreams.

As for SATA connector's that's quite interesting, but it leaves me another question: as far as I understand, there is no need of high speed communications to feed the FPGA/ASIC and it's always needed a PC to access the pools and feed the jobs, so, why don't they use the PCI bus inside the computer? Or even the PCIe?
Other designs I've seen in this forum, use Molex connectors, and I still don't get it, why not ISA/VESA/AGP/PCI/PCIe type connectors?
IMHO, it would simplify the creation of rigs with a new and easily expandable design.
You could have a backpane which would get the work with some very cheap microcontroler (even a PIC with Ethernet shield?) where you would plug in small boards containing only some kind of eprom to provide an unique serial number (so the microcontroler would forward the work to the proper chip) and the FPGA/ASIC itself.
Even the power bus would be standard and could be populated with fan connectors.

Sorry if the question seems too stupid, I'm just trying to understand why people chose the designs they have, which seem to increase greatly the costs, reducing the resale value.
All the designs I've seen are too expensive for me, as far as the cheapest FPGA I've seen, capable of mining, costs $300, way more the ~$150 I would be able to spend.

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June 02, 2012, 01:37:53 PM
 #27

SATA cables are far cheaper than a rigid backplane solution. They also allow flexibility in creating your own layout or putting the stuff in your own case, if that's what you want to do too.

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June 02, 2012, 02:09:47 PM
 #28


re SATA plugs: they're just reusing an industry standard connector. It has enough pins to run serial over, so its fine. External 4x SATA/SAS has often been ran over Infiniband connectors because its cheaper and higher quality than using eSATA, and I've seen other things reuse SATA plugs. Its not particularly a new idea.

You can't reuse ASICs because they're designed specifically to ONLY for this. Thats why its an ASIC.

BFL FPGAs COULD be repurposed, but BFL requires encrypted bitstreams.

As for SATA connector's that's quite interesting, but it leaves me another question: as far as I understand, there is no need of high speed communications to feed the FPGA/ASIC and it's always needed a PC to access the pools and feed the jobs, so, why don't they use the PCI bus inside the computer? Or even the PCIe?
Other designs I've seen in this forum, use Molex connectors, and I still don't get it, why not ISA/VESA/AGP/PCI/PCIe type connectors?
IMHO, it would simplify the creation of rigs with a new and easily expandable design.
You could have a backpane which would get the work with some very cheap microcontroler (even a PIC with Ethernet shield?) where you would plug in small boards containing only some kind of eprom to provide an unique serial number (so the microcontroler would forward the work to the proper chip) and the FPGA/ASIC itself.
Even the power bus would be standard and could be populated with fan connectors.

Sorry if the question seems too stupid, I'm just trying to understand why people chose the designs they have, which seem to increase greatly the costs, reducing the resale value.
All the designs I've seen are too expensive for me, as far as the cheapest FPGA I've seen, capable of mining, costs $300, way more the ~$150 I would be able to spend.

Maybe I misread you, but are you implying that a 15,000 dollar mini-rig could be made cheaper by not using SATA cables for their I/O (which doesn't actually use SATA, just the cables)? Or are you just wanting a PCIe FPGA that you throw inside your computer just like a video card?

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DiabloD3
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June 02, 2012, 02:12:30 PM
 #29


re SATA plugs: they're just reusing an industry standard connector. It has enough pins to run serial over, so its fine. External 4x SATA/SAS has often been ran over Infiniband connectors because its cheaper and higher quality than using eSATA, and I've seen other things reuse SATA plugs. Its not particularly a new idea.

You can't reuse ASICs because they're designed specifically to ONLY for this. Thats why its an ASIC.

BFL FPGAs COULD be repurposed, but BFL requires encrypted bitstreams.

As for SATA connector's that's quite interesting, but it leaves me another question: as far as I understand, there is no need of high speed communications to feed the FPGA/ASIC and it's always needed a PC to access the pools and feed the jobs, so, why don't they use the PCI bus inside the computer? Or even the PCIe?
Other designs I've seen in this forum, use Molex connectors, and I still don't get it, why not ISA/VESA/AGP/PCI/PCIe type connectors?
IMHO, it would simplify the creation of rigs with a new and easily expandable design.
You could have a backpane which would get the work with some very cheap microcontroler (even a PIC with Ethernet shield?) where you would plug in small boards containing only some kind of eprom to provide an unique serial number (so the microcontroler would forward the work to the proper chip) and the FPGA/ASIC itself.
Even the power bus would be standard and could be populated with fan connectors.

Sorry if the question seems too stupid, I'm just trying to understand why people chose the designs they have, which seem to increase greatly the costs, reducing the resale value.
All the designs I've seen are too expensive for me, as far as the cheapest FPGA I've seen, capable of mining, costs $300, way more the ~$150 I would be able to spend.

Backplanes are expensive. Reusing SATA is the cheapest industrial internal connection by far. Its cheaper than using DB9 serial connections as well.

As for you being unable to afford it... well, thats the way it is. These parts cost money. There is no cheap solution.

DiabloD3
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June 02, 2012, 02:17:03 PM
 #30


re SATA plugs: they're just reusing an industry standard connector. It has enough pins to run serial over, so its fine. External 4x SATA/SAS has often been ran over Infiniband connectors because its cheaper and higher quality than using eSATA, and I've seen other things reuse SATA plugs. Its not particularly a new idea.

You can't reuse ASICs because they're designed specifically to ONLY for this. Thats why its an ASIC.

BFL FPGAs COULD be repurposed, but BFL requires encrypted bitstreams.

As for SATA connector's that's quite interesting, but it leaves me another question: as far as I understand, there is no need of high speed communications to feed the FPGA/ASIC and it's always needed a PC to access the pools and feed the jobs, so, why don't they use the PCI bus inside the computer? Or even the PCIe?
Other designs I've seen in this forum, use Molex connectors, and I still don't get it, why not ISA/VESA/AGP/PCI/PCIe type connectors?
IMHO, it would simplify the creation of rigs with a new and easily expandable design.
You could have a backpane which would get the work with some very cheap microcontroler (even a PIC with Ethernet shield?) where you would plug in small boards containing only some kind of eprom to provide an unique serial number (so the microcontroler would forward the work to the proper chip) and the FPGA/ASIC itself.
Even the power bus would be standard and could be populated with fan connectors.

Sorry if the question seems too stupid, I'm just trying to understand why people chose the designs they have, which seem to increase greatly the costs, reducing the resale value.
All the designs I've seen are too expensive for me, as far as the cheapest FPGA I've seen, capable of mining, costs $300, way more the ~$150 I would be able to spend.

Maybe I misread you, but are you implying that a 15,000 dollar mini-rig could be made cheaper by not using SATA cables for their I/O (which doesn't actually use SATA, just the cables)? Or are you just wanting a PCIe FPGA that you throw inside your computer just like a video card?

With the way the minirig is assembled, they couldn't make it that way with backplanes anyhow, it'd require actual cables.

A PCI-E-based board dedicated to mining would essentially just be an existing two or four Spartan 6 board with a serial to USB chip plugged into a USB to PCI-E host chip and all power supplied off a PCI-E 6 pin plug fabbed on a standard PCI-E board shape.

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June 02, 2012, 04:15:22 PM
 #31


re SATA plugs: they're just reusing an industry standard connector. It has enough pins to run serial over, so its fine. External 4x SATA/SAS has often been ran over Infiniband connectors because its cheaper and higher quality than using eSATA, and I've seen other things reuse SATA plugs. Its not particularly a new idea.

You can't reuse ASICs because they're designed specifically to ONLY for this. Thats why its an ASIC.

BFL FPGAs COULD be repurposed, but BFL requires encrypted bitstreams.

As for SATA connector's that's quite interesting, but it leaves me another question: as far as I understand, there is no need of high speed communications to feed the FPGA/ASIC and it's always needed a PC to access the pools and feed the jobs, so, why don't they use the PCI bus inside the computer? Or even the PCIe?
Other designs I've seen in this forum, use Molex connectors, and I still don't get it, why not ISA/VESA/AGP/PCI/PCIe type connectors?
IMHO, it would simplify the creation of rigs with a new and easily expandable design.
You could have a backpane which would get the work with some very cheap microcontroler (even a PIC with Ethernet shield?) where you would plug in small boards containing only some kind of eprom to provide an unique serial number (so the microcontroler would forward the work to the proper chip) and the FPGA/ASIC itself.
Even the power bus would be standard and could be populated with fan connectors.

Sorry if the question seems too stupid, I'm just trying to understand why people chose the designs they have, which seem to increase greatly the costs, reducing the resale value.
All the designs I've seen are too expensive for me, as far as the cheapest FPGA I've seen, capable of mining, costs $300, way more the ~$150 I would be able to spend.

Maybe I misread you, but are you implying that a 15,000 dollar mini-rig could be made cheaper by not using SATA cables for their I/O (which doesn't actually use SATA, just the cables)? Or are you just wanting a PCIe FPGA that you throw inside your computer just like a video card?


With the way the minirig is assembled, they couldn't make it that way with backplanes anyhow, it'd require actual cables.

A PCI-E-based board dedicated to mining would essentially just be an existing two or four Spartan 6 board with a serial to USB chip plugged into a USB to PCI-E host chip and all power supplied off a PCI-E 6 pin plug fabbed on a standard PCI-E board shape.

Can't pcie slots provide up to 75W of power?

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DiabloD3
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June 02, 2012, 04:16:59 PM
 #32


re SATA plugs: they're just reusing an industry standard connector. It has enough pins to run serial over, so its fine. External 4x SATA/SAS has often been ran over Infiniband connectors because its cheaper and higher quality than using eSATA, and I've seen other things reuse SATA plugs. Its not particularly a new idea.

You can't reuse ASICs because they're designed specifically to ONLY for this. Thats why its an ASIC.

BFL FPGAs COULD be repurposed, but BFL requires encrypted bitstreams.

As for SATA connector's that's quite interesting, but it leaves me another question: as far as I understand, there is no need of high speed communications to feed the FPGA/ASIC and it's always needed a PC to access the pools and feed the jobs, so, why don't they use the PCI bus inside the computer? Or even the PCIe?
Other designs I've seen in this forum, use Molex connectors, and I still don't get it, why not ISA/VESA/AGP/PCI/PCIe type connectors?
IMHO, it would simplify the creation of rigs with a new and easily expandable design.
You could have a backpane which would get the work with some very cheap microcontroler (even a PIC with Ethernet shield?) where you would plug in small boards containing only some kind of eprom to provide an unique serial number (so the microcontroler would forward the work to the proper chip) and the FPGA/ASIC itself.
Even the power bus would be standard and could be populated with fan connectors.

Sorry if the question seems too stupid, I'm just trying to understand why people chose the designs they have, which seem to increase greatly the costs, reducing the resale value.
All the designs I've seen are too expensive for me, as far as the cheapest FPGA I've seen, capable of mining, costs $300, way more the ~$150 I would be able to spend.

Maybe I misread you, but are you implying that a 15,000 dollar mini-rig could be made cheaper by not using SATA cables for their I/O (which doesn't actually use SATA, just the cables)? Or are you just wanting a PCIe FPGA that you throw inside your computer just like a video card?


With the way the minirig is assembled, they couldn't make it that way with backplanes anyhow, it'd require actual cables.

A PCI-E-based board dedicated to mining would essentially just be an existing two or four Spartan 6 board with a serial to USB chip plugged into a USB to PCI-E host chip and all power supplied off a PCI-E 6 pin plug fabbed on a standard PCI-E board shape.

Can't pcie slots provide up to 75W of power?

Yeah, but you're limited to 150w total across the entire motherboard. Same reason you're boned if you try more than two 5970/6990/7990 and aren't using powered risers.

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June 02, 2012, 04:17:38 PM
 #33

Can't pcie slots provide up to 75W of power?
Actually, the 3.0 spec allows up to 150 watts, but there are few boards that support that.

Pre-3.0 specs are 10 watts all the time, up to 25 after boot, and up to 75 on request of the installed device, I believe, if what I read is accurate.

Mining Rig Extraordinaire - the Trenton BPX6806 18-slot PCIe backplane [PICS] Dead project is dead, all hail the coming of the mighty ASIC!
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June 02, 2012, 05:19:39 PM
 #34

Backplanes are expensive. Reusing SATA is the cheapest industrial internal connection by far. Its cheaper than using DB9 serial connections as well.
Ah, now I see. Makes sense, then. (And gives me some ideas to non Bitcoin related projects!)

As for you being unable to afford it... well, thats the way it is. These parts cost money. There is no cheap solution.
Yups, that's right. But someday, I'll be able to afford one (or two! Cheesy). Just thought I was missing something (and I was missing more than something!) on why they were so expensive when compared to graphics cards that someone once said to be almost a sort of FPGA. (Excluding mass production costs, of course)

Maybe I misread you, but are you implying that a 15,000 dollar mini-rig could be made cheaper by not using SATA cables for their I/O (which doesn't actually use SATA, just the cables)?
No, not implying anything, just trying to understand why the actual design instead an 30 years old mainframe type of design where you plugged boards in a backpane.

Or are you just wanting a PCIe FPGA that you throw inside your computer just like a video card?
Once again, this was just a thought on "Why not?" but, yeah, that would be the main idea. Smiley
Already answered also:

Can't pcie slots provide up to 75W of power?
Yeah, but you're limited to 150w total across the entire motherboard. Same reason you're boned if you try more than two 5970/6990/7990 and aren't using powered risers.

Tonight, I'll be able to sleep calm, now that the world makes sense!

Thank you all for your patience and I'm sorry if I bothered someone with my doubts, I prefer to ask instead of making assumptions, and as far as I've been able to search and read, I've never seen anybody asking this. Smiley
I also hope these answers to my questions become a reference for future FPGA designers.
It's great to be part of this community!

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June 02, 2012, 05:39:46 PM
 #35

Nice find. It'd be really interesting to to be a fly on the wall of BFL's offices to see their design flow. Do they design a product and source it, or do they wait and try to source an amazing price on a lot of powerful hardware, and then design a product around it?
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June 02, 2012, 07:57:15 PM
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Nice find. It'd be really interesting to to be a fly on the wall of BFL's offices to see their design flow. Do they design a product and source it, or do they wait and try to source an amazing price on a lot of powerful hardware, and then design a product around it?
Would definitely bet on the latter.
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June 02, 2012, 08:28:58 PM
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Nice find. It'd be really interesting to to be a fly on the wall of BFL's offices to see their design flow. Do they design a product and source it, or do they wait and try to source an amazing price on a lot of powerful hardware, and then design a product around it?
Would definitely bet on the latter.
So do I, after reading their FAQ about the Custom ASIC.

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June 19, 2012, 06:50:46 AM
 #38

OK, here are some grapevine news.
i asked a seller in the market today, who is one of my best friends.

the EP2AGX260 F780 is about 2000USD for a new one (supply is nervous), and 200~350USD for a used one (no problem for a 500pcs order).

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June 19, 2012, 01:04:43 PM
 #39

And how much would a factory wafer respin cost from an old maskset, ngzhang? Do you know any numbers there?

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June 19, 2012, 03:56:51 PM
 #40

And how much would a factory wafer respin cost from an old maskset, ngzhang? Do you know any numbers there?

just contact with an altera FAE ( is on of my friends  Cheesy ), he is unwilling to discuss about the price, but leak a message that the A2 GX260 is about 300 USD at a moderate quantity.  Cheesy

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