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Author Topic: Block Erupter: Dedicated Mining ASIC Project (Open for Discussion)  (Read 55009 times)
nedbert9
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July 30, 2012, 05:49:51 PM
 #41

You might not want to spend too much time on your own miners if your tape-out is successful. I'd do a reference PCB design, test it, and release it asap together with the chips. You'll make much more money selling the chips and maybe licensing the reference design, than by mining yourself. Time is your enemy here.

Of course, but product quality and customers' words of mouth are the life of a company. But we don't want to sell prototypes. We want to sell mining devices with a higher standard. We ourselves could probably handle second-digit rates of failure, some heat issues, and sketchy appearances. But we wouldn't want our customers to have to deal with them.

This is exactly why I suggest you do a reference PCB design, and roll it out ASAP together with the chips. There's no point for you taking care of all the hassle associated with B-to-C sales like warranty, after sales etc. You customers should be mining rig manufacturers or able hobbyists, not end consumers. Sell the chip like xilinx sells spartans. License the ref design PCB or just release it open source. Scale up quick, time is your enemy.

I tend to agree.

I have to ask.  What will be the potential market share when pitted against BFL *if* BFL uses a 90 or 65nm process?

In my mind this would have to be a market battle fought on unit price.
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July 30, 2012, 07:51:20 PM
 #42

You might not want to spend too much time on your own miners if your tape-out is successful. I'd do a reference PCB design, test it, and release it asap together with the chips. You'll make much more money selling the chips and maybe licensing the reference design, than by mining yourself. Time is your enemy here.

Of course, but product quality and customers' words of mouth are the life of a company. But we don't want to sell prototypes. We want to sell mining devices with a higher standard. We ourselves could probably handle second-digit rates of failure, some heat issues, and sketchy appearances. But we wouldn't want our customers to have to deal with them.

This is exactly why I suggest you do a reference PCB design, and roll it out ASAP together with the chips. There's no point for you taking care of all the hassle associated with B-to-C sales like warranty, after sales etc. You customers should be mining rig manufacturers or able hobbyists, not end consumers. Sell the chip like xilinx sells spartans. License the ref design PCB or just release it open source. Scale up quick, time is your enemy.

I tend to agree.

I have to ask.  What will be the potential market share when pitted against BFL *if* BFL uses a 90 or 65nm process?

In my mind this would have to be a market battle fought on unit price.


IMHO: I don't think the market share issue is significant at this point. It's all about who's first to deliver and at what price. BFL has a huge waiting line of pre-orders, but looking at their track-record, most people (if any) on that list are not going to receive their product this year (if ever). Even if they manage to deliver something on 90 or 65nm it won't matter as mhash/$ is the thing that counts the most at this point. Their current prices have ~1000% margins (not counting NRE). If someone beats them to market, they'll need to drop the price, or their pre-orders will be the only thing they'll ever sell besides mugs and t-shirts Smiley. Later on, when difficulty rises tenfold and more, the question of mhash/W will have more weight in purchase decision.

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July 30, 2012, 11:41:27 PM
 #43

Interesting information. Looking forward to the more optimized numbers. I'm sure you guys have thought of this before but, if you haven't, once you guys have a commodity chip you may want to chat with Enterpoint. They've shown interest in Bitcoin, appear to be working quite hard on their product, and their first hardware design was impressive given how little time it took to release. Sell the chips in bulk reels, provide the pinout and let Enterpoint create the PCB, VRM and controlling FPGA to handle a couple of these chips per board. Could be a great partnership and dramatically accelerate the time to market of such a product.

In the end I'm fairly certain you'll recover your costs faster by selling your chips than by mining them yourselves. Especially if you believe that BFL and Largecoin will deliver sometime in 2013.

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July 31, 2012, 02:33:18 AM
 #44

As most have stated in this thread, you will have nearly ZERO market if BFL or some other vendor beats you to the punch. If you can produce something at a reasonable cost which is cheaper than current fpga's and has at least 5-10x the efficiency, you will sell many.

As miners we don't care about looks or even some bugs as long as you continue to support your product and get us where we need to be.

You just need to make this happen within 90-120 days.
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July 31, 2012, 03:15:14 AM
 #45

PCB design request...if possible:
1. PCI-E form factor
2. Single PCI-E bay
3. "Plug & play" - drivers, etc..
4. compaitable with majority of miners such as cgminer, MPBM....

friedcat
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July 31, 2012, 06:59:25 AM
 #46

I tend to agree.

I have to ask.  What will be the potential market share when pitted against BFL *if* BFL uses a 90 or 65nm process?

In my mind this would have to be a market battle fought on unit price.

Thanks for your question.

There will indeed be a market battle. The question is how intense it will be and when we will reach a relatively stable equilibrium. In my opinion, there's still a long way to go before the market price falls down to the same magnitude to the margin cost. Before that, all ASIC vendors would be quite profitable.

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July 31, 2012, 07:56:42 AM
 #47

Interesting information. Looking forward to the more optimized numbers. I'm sure you guys have thought of this before but, if you haven't, once you guys have a commodity chip you may want to chat with Enterpoint. They've shown interest in Bitcoin, appear to be working quite hard on their product, and their first hardware design was impressive given how little time it took to release. Sell the chips in bulk reels, provide the pinout and let Enterpoint create the PCB, VRM and controlling FPGA to handle a couple of these chips per board. Could be a great partnership and dramatically accelerate the time to market of such a product.

In the end I'm fairly certain you'll recover your costs faster by selling your chips than by mining them yourselves. Especially if you believe that BFL and Largecoin will deliver sometime in 2013.

Thanks. It sounds promising. We have thought of this but Enterpoint hasn't come into our mind before. We will definitely do some research on it. Smiley

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July 31, 2012, 09:26:56 AM
 #48

Interesting information. Looking forward to the more optimized numbers. I'm sure you guys have thought of this before but, if you haven't, once you guys have a commodity chip you may want to chat with Enterpoint. They've shown interest in Bitcoin, appear to be working quite hard on their product, and their first hardware design was impressive given how little time it took to release. Sell the chips in bulk reels, provide the pinout and let Enterpoint create the PCB, VRM and controlling FPGA to handle a couple of these chips per board. Could be a great partnership and dramatically accelerate the time to market of such a product.

In the end I'm fairly certain you'll recover your costs faster by selling your chips than by mining them yourselves. Especially if you believe that BFL and Largecoin will deliver sometime in 2013.

Thanks. It sounds promising. We have thought of this but Enterpoint hasn't come into our mind before. We will definitely do some research on it. Smiley

+1

a sound business opportunity were all interested parties win...design houses + miner + bitcoin community

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August 02, 2012, 10:39:17 AM
 #49

Update

After further optimization and some trade-offs, we came up with this updated estimation results based on our improved design.

Hashrate: 1.00GH/s per chip
Area: 21.7mm^2 per chip
Power Consumption: 8.23W

Again remember that they are estimated from the RTL design and might have some differences to real products.

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August 02, 2012, 10:51:01 AM
 #50

Good progress, that is a massive drop in Wattage, so it's a fair trade off.

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August 07, 2012, 05:15:53 PM
 #51

Update

After further optimization and some trade-offs, we came up with this updated estimation results based on our improved design.

Hashrate: 1.00GH/s per chip
Area: 21.7mm^2 per chip
Power Consumption: 8.23W

Again remember that they are estimated from the RTL design and might have some differences to real products.

I'm a noob when it comes to FPGAs and ASICs, so I apologize in advance for my noobishness  Grin  but with all this talk of BFL ASICs, I think it's about time I look at selling my GPUs. I admit I have pre-ordered a couple Jalapenos, and have bought one single in the past, however I am among those who don't particularly like their business practices, so I am pleased to see a potential competitor.

I have not been closely following this discussion, but I have a couple questions that I didn't see answered.

1. The estimated specs of each chip sound great, even if they end up being off somewhat, however, how many chips will be in each "Block Erupter" device?

2. "~150k$ for 130nm, ~500k$ for 65nm, furthermore much less if you do a 1/N mask" means almost nothing to me  Embarrassed roughly how much do you estimate each "Block Erupter" will cost to us customers?

3. From the threads discussion, is sounds like this product may be ready sometime by the end of this year? I didn't really see any firm ETA, so I was wondering if there is one available at this point? Assuming BFL actually does start shipping at the end of October/November, is there any possibility this product will be shipping by then?
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August 07, 2012, 05:43:18 PM
 #52

Quote
2. "~150k$ for 130nm, ~500k$ for 65nm, furthermore much less if you do a 1/N mask" means almost nothing to me  Embarrassed

ASIC is a custom chip, they are a built to order to a very specific spec (for bitcoin mining) and in large amounts to be cost effective, usually over 10,000, however really large orders of 200k make it far more cost effective, but larger upfront costs. It's static, unlike a FPGA, so they can't upgrade it once made, it's why it costs so much generally.
So ASIC can be quiet cheap when you compare them per individual chip price, but it's a big start up cost for the designer. FPGA's are more expensive individually, but you can do more with them, and on a small scale the cost is easier to pass on without hurting their accounts.

Quote
Roughly how much do you estimate each "Block Erupter" will cost to us customers?

Price could be cheaper than what BFL is offering their ASIC devices at since their first designs are on a older, but more cost efficient for them process, while BFL opted for one over 3x more expensive by the speculation circulating their numbers they saying it will do.
It however is far more efficient hash/s per watt. I'd estimate the Block Erupter chips (just the chip) will only be $5-15 a piece, but that isn't all that goes into them and also they have their own profit margins to worry about, so it won't be that cheap. But below $100 would be reasonable, since we know it's less expensive to make them.



FPGA's and ASIC will play a bigger part in bitcoin by next year, personally I do believe the use of GPU's is going to start fading, just like it did for CPU's. It's a matter of time, but it will eventually happen, some are making the step now and enjoying lower energy bills and often faster hash rates.

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August 09, 2012, 03:49:25 AM
 #53

Quote
2. "~150k$ for 130nm, ~500k$ for 65nm, furthermore much less if you do a 1/N mask" means almost nothing to me  Embarrassed

ASIC is a custom chip, they are a built to order to a very specific spec (for bitcoin mining) and in large amounts to be cost effective, usually over 10,000, however really large orders of 200k make it far more cost effective, but larger upfront costs. It's static, unlike a FPGA, so they can't upgrade it once made, it's why it costs so much generally.
So ASIC can be quiet cheap when you compare them per individual chip price, but it's a big start up cost for the designer. FPGA's are more expensive individually, but you can do more with them, and on a small scale the cost is easier to pass on without hurting their accounts.

Quote
Roughly how much do you estimate each "Block Erupter" will cost to us customers?

Price could be cheaper than what BFL is offering their ASIC devices at since their first designs are on a older, but more cost efficient for them process, while BFL opted for one over 3x more expensive by the speculation circulating their numbers they saying it will do.
It however is far more efficient hash/s per watt. I'd estimate the Block Erupter chips (just the chip) will only be $5-15 a piece, but that isn't all that goes into them and also they have their own profit margins to worry about, so it won't be that cheap. But below $100 would be reasonable, since we know it's less expensive to make them.



FPGA's and ASIC will play a bigger part in bitcoin by next year, personally I do believe the use of GPU's is going to start fading, just like it did for CPU's. It's a matter of time, but it will eventually happen, some are making the step now and enjoying lower energy bills and often faster hash rates.

Thanks, that gives me a better idea of what to expect for the pricing, however I am still wondering how many chips per Block Erupter? I am assuming either one or two, but that would be a rather big difference obviously. Is there a product website up yet? Does a CAD drawing, or actual prototype exist?

I am looking to reduce the power consumption of my mining equipment, but as far as the difference between the efficiency of Block Erupter vs BFL ASIC goes, that matters very little to me, as either way, this is a huge improvement over my GPUs. Assuming they don't get hit with so many orders for Block Erupters that it takes 7-8 weeks or more to ship, I would be very interested in purchasing these if their GHs:$ ratio is somewhat close to that of BFL ASIC. As it stands now, at the very least it looks like that will be roughly 10MHs:1$, not quite the same as BFL's claimed 23MHs:1$, but if a second chip is included with each Block Erupter, assuming a cost of $100 per unit, that brings it much closer to BFL.
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August 09, 2012, 04:45:27 AM
 #54

So ASIC can be quiet cheap when you compare them per individual chip price, but it's a big start up cost for the designer. FPGA's are more expensive individually, but you can do more with them, and on a small scale the cost is easier to pass on without hurting their accounts.

Thanks. Yes, basically the more ASICs are produced, the lower the cost per chip becomes.

I'd estimate the Block Erupter chips (just the chip) will only be $5-15 a piece ...

In fact, the margin cost per chip is less than $0.8 a piece, that is hopefully $0.8 per GH/s. Of course, if we consider the cost of heat sinks, fans, PCBs, power supplies, and the disperse of the initial NRE cost into each GH/s, it will be significantly higher, but still within a single digit dollars per GH/s.

As it stands now, at the very least it looks like that will be roughly 10MHs:1$ ...

If only considering the whole production cost, it is easy to achieve more than 100MH/s : 1$. The actual market price is another story of course.

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August 09, 2012, 10:44:32 AM
 #55

In fact, the margin cost per chip is less than $0.8 a piece, that is hopefully $0.8 per GH/s. Of course, if we consider the cost of heat sinks, fans, PCBs, power supplies, and the disperse of the initial NRE cost into each GH/s, it will be significantly higher, but still within a single digit dollars per GH/s.

:O

That is really low price, amazing. Guess it helps to have contacts in the right place that will do it at cost price for you. Guess I'm a little to use to prices to manufacture them over here in the UK or USA. It would be more expensive.

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August 09, 2012, 04:35:23 PM
 #56

So ASIC can be quiet cheap when you compare them per individual chip price, but it's a big start up cost for the designer. FPGA's are more expensive individually, but you can do more with them, and on a small scale the cost is easier to pass on without hurting their accounts.

Thanks. Yes, basically the more ASICs are produced, the lower the cost per chip becomes.

I'd estimate the Block Erupter chips (just the chip) will only be $5-15 a piece ...

In fact, the margin cost per chip is less than $0.8 a piece, that is hopefully $0.8 per GH/s. Of course, if we consider the cost of heat sinks, fans, PCBs, power supplies, and the disperse of the initial NRE cost into each GH/s, it will be significantly higher, but still within a single digit dollars per GH/s.

As it stands now, at the very least it looks like that will be roughly 10MHs:1$ ...

If only considering the whole production cost, it is easy to achieve more than 100MH/s : 1$. The actual market price is another story of course.

Thanks for the reply, I'm certainly not expecting 100MH/s : 1$ for the market price, as BFL's alleged SC Single is only 30MH/s : 1$. While it's great news to hear that can be done, I'd say anything around 20+ MH/s : 1$ market price would be an excellent BFL ASIC competitor.

Any chance there is a CAD drawing of the Block Erupter yet?  Grin That would certainly be more than BFL has managed to come up with yet.
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August 10, 2012, 03:08:56 AM
 #57

Thanks for the reply, I'm certainly not expecting 100MH/s : 1$ for the market price, as BFL's alleged SC Single is only 30MH/s : 1$. While it's great news to hear that can be done, I'd say anything around 20+ MH/s : 1$ market price would be an excellent BFL ASIC competitor.
As I said, <1$ per 100MH/s is the estimation of cost. The market price for selling will probably be higher.

Any chance there is a CAD drawing of the Block Erupter yet?  Grin That would certainly be more than BFL has managed to come up with yet.
Currently what we have are netlist files and back-end results in various stages. They haven't been visualized yet. But it's possible that we come up with tangible pictures to share before the production.

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August 10, 2012, 10:52:42 PM
 #58

So when it comes to mining with an ASIC all you would need to set one up is a cheap PC with a USB port like a netbook and some kind of mining software?

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August 11, 2012, 02:48:23 AM
 #59

Any chance there is a CAD drawing of the Block Erupter yet?

There is now. But it's not named as CAD drawing, but IC layout. Smiley

The first picture is the IC layout of the whole chip after P&R. The big cyan bar in the bottom center is the pins of the chip. Purple bars above and below the chip, as well as the light blue bars in the left and the right of the chip, are all power pads. The small rectangle in the bottom left is the blackbox of PLL IP module. The rest parts are real hashing units doing the actual job of erupting blocks.



The second picture is a magnified local part of the hashing unit. It's harder to tell which part is which in this picture, but it feels very nice for ourselves to see how our logic design turns out physical.


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August 11, 2012, 02:49:17 AM
 #60

So when it comes to mining with an ASIC all you would need to set one up is a cheap PC with a USB port like a netbook and some kind of mining software?

Yes. The same as current FPGA mining boards. Smiley

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