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Author Topic: FPGA mining for fun and profit  (Read 63948 times)
Chris Acheson
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May 17, 2011, 05:10:06 PM
 #21

Apologies but no more development information will be posted.  I've been offered a 25% share from someone that owns 2 FPGA clusters.  If you haven't seen that type of hardware before think a 156 FPGAs per machine.

I was afraid this would happen.  I don't think it's good for this stuff to be kept secret.  To that end:

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA256

I will offer a 10 BTC bounty to the first person who either:

1) Makes publicly available the source code and complete setup instructions for an FPGA-based Bitcoin mining device that can be created with off-the-shelf hardware.

or

2) Offers an ASIC-based Bitcoin mining device for sale to the general Bitcoin community, and makes publicly available all schematics, source code, and other relevant information used to develop said device.

Either of the above devices must cost no more than $0.60 USD per megahash per second that they provide, and must consume no more than 0.3 watts per megahash.

Designs must not be encumbered by any sort of "intellectual property" restrictions, with the exception of GPL-style copyleft licenses.

- -Chris Acheson, 5/17/11
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It's not a whole lot, but hopefully others will join me.
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gmaxwell
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May 17, 2011, 05:16:12 PM
 #22

For people who don't know a ton about FPGA stuff, you can run a hash engine natively in hardware using a hew hundred gates at most for MD5, and run one hash per clock cycle, with a clock speed of 5-550 Mhz.  

Your figures are wildly off.  A ununrolled miner takes about 90K LU, and a internally pipelined one that can reach high clockrates is probably more like 180K LU.  Millions of gates.   This pushes you into the most expensive FPGAs currently available just to get good performance...

FPGAs are great for H/j  but not H/$ at the moment. The upcoming generation of FPGAs may improve this somewhat.  The number's you're describing aren't really realistic except via fully custom asic with NREs in the million dollar range.



kokjo
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May 17, 2011, 05:22:34 PM
 #23

can you opensource the code?

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts." -Bertrand Russell
gmaxwell
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May 17, 2011, 05:23:40 PM
 #24

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
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I will gladly match Chris Acheson's bounty of 10BTC on his terms.

A basic FPGA miner isn't a lot of work and it would be a fun project
for someone who hasn't done this kind of work before.  A _fast_
fpga miner which will achieve competitive performance would be a decent
accomplishment.

I think it's important to the health, security, and public confidence
in bit coin that a few large private parties do not retain a substantial
long term advantage in their ability to control the hashchain.

Making sure that the public has the lowest cost access to the mining
state of the art should be helpful for this purpose.
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Grinder
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May 17, 2011, 05:26:33 PM
 #25

I will offer a 10 BTC bounty to the first person who either:
You probably have to make that bounty about 1000 times higher to make it remotely interesting to those who have the know how and money to make this stuff in the first place.
cypherf0x
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May 17, 2011, 05:31:25 PM
 #26

For people who don't know a ton about FPGA stuff, you can run a hash engine natively in hardware using a hew hundred gates at most for MD5, and run one hash per clock cycle, with a clock speed of 5-550 Mhz.  

Your figures are wily off.  A ununrolled miner takes about 90K LU, and a internally pipelined one that can reach high clockrates is probably more like 180K LU.  Millions of gates.   This pushes you into the most expensive FPGAs currently available just to get good performance...

FPGAs are great for H/j  but not H/$ at the moment. The upcoming generation of FPGAs may improve this somewhat.  The number's you're describing aren't really realistic except via fully custom asic with NREs in the million dollar range.


The high end Spartan-6 has ~150K gates.

Is this type of thing cost effective for miners to buy just for mining? Nope you'd likely never pay off cost of the cluster from your mining.
Is it cost effective for someone who already owns units used for other work? Very, considering each chip only pulls ~5 watts and they're sitting idle.


The bounty is laughable... A person keeping the code to themselves could profit a lot more than that and keep the competitive advantage.  You may not like it but it's capitalism and just a good business practice to keep that advantage.

Ok, buisiness... I have agreements not to release my current design which involves FPGAs

142MeH5qrYmHBEGkzVYGMKaLc66KVHZe4q

If I get enough to that address to fund getting an ASIC produced, I will along with an easy to use board.


Open Source/hardware mining hardware project
http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=8987.0
Latregetic
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May 17, 2011, 05:40:19 PM
 #27

Well I stand corrected, and was hilariously off base on my values.  This is still a pretty awesome business plan to run on idle FPGA clusters that would otherwise sit there doing nothing.  The marginal cost is pretty much zero since the hardware was purchased for something else and the depreciation expense is borne by someone else.
ryepdx
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May 17, 2011, 05:40:46 PM
 #28

Does anyone else have this kind of knowledge? I'd definitely be interested in buying some sort of PCIe card with onboard mining-optimized ASICs if it means better Mh per slot.
gmaxwell
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May 17, 2011, 05:43:25 PM
 #29

The high end Spartan-6 has ~150K gates.

Is this type of thing cost effective for miners to buy just for mining? Nope you'd likely never pay off cost of the cluster from your mining.
Is it cost effective for someone who already owns units used for other work? Very, considering each chip only pulls ~5 watts and they're sitting idle.

Yes. 150K LU  is not enough to fit an unrolled engine with internally pipelined adders. It's enough to fit _one_ unrolled engine, which you'd probably be lucky to get running at 100MHz (=100MH/s).     Maybe you could do some awesome stunts, depending on the platform and somehow get two in, though I don't see it.

If it's otherwise idle capacity, then fine— it would be profitable. But you're not talking about a huge competitive advantage for anyone yet, certainly not a huge short term competitive advantage.

Quote
The bounty is laughable... A person keeping the code to themselves could profit a lot more than that and keep the competitive advantage.  You may not like it but it's capitalism.

Much more and it simply becomes easier to write it myself.  It's quite simple to write a SHA2-256 engine in verilog, though harder to get it going fast.

To someone who knows the tools and has the development kit handy, it's probably two days of work to get something basic going, though the skys is the limit on optimizations.  I'd offer the use of hardware, but the largest programmable FPGA I own is only 27K LU, which is too small to be interesting for this.

The reality is that someone will eventually do it for love or money and reality trumps capitalism.

Moreover, shaking confidence in the security of bitcoin by securing a large private advantage wouldn't be economically sensible for anyone developing this stuff in any case.
gat3way
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May 17, 2011, 05:47:23 PM
 #30

I would put much more hope in the upcoming 22nm southern islands GPUs. Even if there are no architecture changes at all, theoretically performance per watt ratios could reach up to 4x the current 69xx ones. We might reach 10000 SPs in a dual GPU.
Latregetic
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May 17, 2011, 05:49:25 PM
 #31

Custom ASICs are retarded expensive.  I know the NSA/Some universities got them for DES/Triple DES encryption key breaking, but they cost a few million to develop, and were never in large enough demand to make the non recoverable engineering costs low enough on a per chip basis.
cypherf0x
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May 17, 2011, 05:53:02 PM
 #32

Custom ASICs are retarded expensive.  I know the NSA/Some universities got them for DES/Triple DES encryption key breaking, but they cost a few million to develop, and were never in large enough demand to make the non recoverable engineering costs low enough on a per chip basis.

It's a bit easier now, though still not very cheap.  You can hand the team FPGA files and they'll turn it into an ASIC.  The only way to make it cost effective per chip though is to get a run of 10k+ or so or tooling costs will kill you.

Open Source/hardware mining hardware project
http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=8987.0
Latregetic
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May 17, 2011, 06:01:19 PM
 #33

It's a bit easier now, though still not very cheap.  You can hand the team FPGA files and they'll turn it into an ASIC.  The only way to make it cost effective per chip though is to get a run of 10k+ or so or tooling costs will kill you.


Yeah, if 5 years from now you had several companies doing the block generation as a business model where they collect the tips, then you would probably see a big rackmount box packed to the brim with ASIC logic in order to drive the per transaction cost down low enough to still make a profit.
Grinder
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May 17, 2011, 07:00:19 PM
 #34

I just realised that Bitcoins future depends on using an algorithm that is not possible to put in hardware like this. If it is, there will probably only be one mining company left after a while because of the economy of scale.
cypherf0x
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May 17, 2011, 07:11:06 PM
 #35

I just realised that Bitcoins future depends on using an algorithm that is not possible to put in hardware like this. If it is, there will probably only be one mining company left after a while because of the economy of scale.

That's the problem with cryptographic money systems.  If you can do it in software you can do it in hardware faster.

Open Source/hardware mining hardware project
http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=8987.0
BitMaster
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May 17, 2011, 07:42:26 PM
 #36

What performance coule one expect from these devices:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Altera-Cyclone-EP1C6-NIOSII-EP1C6T144C8-FPGA-Dev-board-/120724210798

http://cgi.ebay.com/Cyclone-III-FPGA-EP3C25-Board-USB-Blaster-12864LCD-/260735361173

http://cgi.ebay.com/Altera-Cyclone-NIOS-II-FPGA-Development-Board-EP2C8Q208-/250809160224

http://cgi.ebay.com/Cyclone-II-FPGA-EP2C8-board-/280447719711

http://cgi.ebay.com/Altera-Cyclone-NIOS-II-FPGA-Board-ByteBlaster-2C35-VGA-/160487569726


Donations go here: 1J1e7Xt16zofs348mrtRGKox5PU7vYPt2e
Chris Acheson
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May 17, 2011, 08:11:44 PM
 #37

I will offer a 10 BTC bounty to the first person who either:
You probably have to make that bounty about 1000 times higher to make it remotely interesting to those who have the know how and money to make this stuff in the first place.

The bounty is laughable... A person keeping the code to themselves could profit a lot more than that and keep the competitive advantage.  You may not like it but it's capitalism and just a good business practice to keep that advantage.

I'm not looking to finance the entire project myself.  If I were, I'd just hire an engineer and not bother talking about it here.  I'm trying to get the ball rolling and prompt others who are also concerned about Bitcoin remaining a distributed currency to chip in.

Ok, buisiness... I have agreements not to release my current design which involves FPGAs

142MeH5qrYmHBEGkzVYGMKaLc66KVHZe4q

If I get enough to that address to fund getting an ASIC produced, I will along with an easy to use board.

Really?  We should give you money so that maybe something will come of it?
cypherf0x
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May 17, 2011, 08:17:30 PM
 #38


Never used it but it has enough gates that it should be able to run a few pipelines

Open Source/hardware mining hardware project
http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=8987.0
BitMaster
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May 17, 2011, 08:28:55 PM
 #39

I would like to buy a FPGA and program it with LabVIEW. Is this a good idea?

Donations go here: 1J1e7Xt16zofs348mrtRGKox5PU7vYPt2e
cypherf0x
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May 17, 2011, 08:31:57 PM
 #40

I will offer a 10 BTC bounty to the first person who either:
You probably have to make that bounty about 1000 times higher to make it remotely interesting to those who have the know how and money to make this stuff in the first place.

The bounty is laughable... A person keeping the code to themselves could profit a lot more than that and keep the competitive advantage.  You may not like it but it's capitalism and just a good business practice to keep that advantage.

I'm not looking to finance the entire project myself.  If I were, I'd just hire an engineer and not bother talking about it here.  I'm trying to get the ball rolling and prompt others who are also concerned about Bitcoin remaining a distributed currency to chip in.

Ok, buisiness... I have agreements not to release my current design which involves FPGAs

142MeH5qrYmHBEGkzVYGMKaLc66KVHZe4q

If I get enough to that address to fund getting an ASIC produced, I will along with an easy to use board.

Really?  We should give you money so that maybe something will come of it?

So someone should release the code and maybe get a bounty?  You can play with maybe all day.  In the end I already have a working prototype and now someone else with more FPGA experience than myself to polish the code.  He develops chips for a living, I develop hardware boards and embedded software so that seems like a pretty reasonable combo for getting something done.

Open Source/hardware mining hardware project
http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=8987.0
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