Best ASICs for mining in 2018-2019: advantages and disadvantages
These days in order to be competitive in the mining industry, you need to work harder than ever before. Perhaps, today only the most enthusiastic miners keep working on the creation of blockchains. For these purposes they use ASICs - special mining hardware. So, which types of ASICs will be the most relevant in the nearest future?
ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) is an integrated circuit customized for a particular use - cryptocurrency mining. Each ASIC type has its own algorithm and mine only those currencies which have similar algorithms.
ASICs appeared as a consequence of the blockchain development, when the complexity of networks increased and GPUs became unprofitable.
In Spring 2013, first ASICs released by ASICminer were introduced. First-generation miners used Blade Block Erupter boards with a 10 GHz/s hashrate at power consumption of 100 watts. Interestingly, for the creation first ASICs were used the out-of-date 130 nm technological process.
Why ASICs became such high in-demand? They were several times more powerful than GPUs. The first ASICs instantly took the dominant position in the network and got a higher reward than any of GPU pools. Moreover, the box, buzzing like a jet airplane, consumed the same amount of electricity as a refrigerator or washing machine. Also, it had a much shorter payback period than GPU - 12-18 months, required much less space and was easy to set up.
Disadvantages of the devices are high noise level, inability to use them for other calculations (including mining other cryptocurrencies), difficult to repair and high costs.
What does ASIC consist of?
ASIC consists of several basic elements, among them:
- a board with a set of microcircuits;
- power supply;
- memory block;
ASICs differ in size, power and algorithm of work, e.g an ability to solve certain tasks.
What types of mining algorithms exist?
Three of the most common mining algorithms are:
- SHA-256. This is the most well-known and widespread algorithm, which first ASICs were designed for. Such cryptocurrencies as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Syscoin, Crown, Neoscoin and others are based on it.
- X11. This algorithm was proposed when developing the Dash cryptocurrency. It applies 11 hashing functions for proof-of-work (type of consensus). Pura, BitSend, Onix, Centurion, PinkCoin, and others are also based on X11.
- Scrypt. Secure function for generating a key based on a password. To hack it, you’d need a large amount of memory with random access. This algorithm uses such blockchains as Litecoin, BitConnect, Dogecoin, BitDeal, etc
Type of an algorithm is important for the PoW (proof-of-work) protocols. They involve active user participation in calculations and getting a reward equal to their contribution. Most of blockchains are currently built on PoW.
What should we pay attention to when buying ASIC?
First you should pay attention to is its power (hashrate), which is usually expressed in Th/s, Gh/s or Mh/s. The higher this indicator is, the faster calculations can be done, which means more chances to get a higher reward. You can overclock ASICs by increasing the hasherate. However, this increases electric power consumption and can lead to the equipment failure (in case of a regular cooling system).
Electricity consumption is the second important characteristic. It is extremely important to consider the power of network when using a large number of devices (over 10).
Energy efficiency is another important and more complex characteristic. Vendors usually express it as the ratio of consumed energy to hashed (J/Gh). Thus, the lower the coefficient, the more energy-efficient the device is. Most of ASICs are energy-efficient devices.
Another characteristic is price. It is always considered when calculating the payback period. In other words, you have to take into account that when you start mining, first you have to pay your equipment off and only then you start gaining profit (after deduction of expenditures on repairs, maintenance and electricity) .
Less important but still worth to be mentioned - the level of noise. This parameter is not indicated by all manufacturers, but usually it ranges from 75 to 90 dB.
Finally, you should also pay attention to ASICs’ size and weight. It will help you when installing the farm and calculating the load on the floor.
Types of ASICs:
- Compact miners, or USB-stick (USB ASIC Miner). They are designed for "pocket" cryptocurrency mining at home. Their main features are simple connection to a PC via a USB port and small size. Most popular are GekkoScience 2PAC BM1384, Bitcoin Miner USB Block Erupter, Bitmain Antrouter R1-LTC, FutureBit MoonLander 2 and others. Such devices are not very powerful and can be used in the beginning when you need some practice before getting involved in mining. These devices cost about $100.
- ASICs for home mining. Devices with average characteristics. As a rule, they consume approximately 600-800 watts. In this case, the body and other parts are made of less quality materials than for professional devices. The hashrate of this type of equipment also shows average performance. Most popular are Antminer L3 ++, Innosilicon A4 + LTCMaster, Baikal-X and others.
- Professional ASICs. Equipped with built-in power units of more than a kilowatt capacity and first-class cooling systems. Such devices demonstrate the best performance and energy efficiency. However, you should also take into account the payback period, where the power consumption must be also considered. For example, at a power of 1kW, the monthly consumption of one device will be 720kW (1x24x30). At an electricity rate of 0.06 cents for kW per month, you will have to pay about $ 43 (or $520 a year) in case of one running device.
Best ASICs devices for mining in 2018
- Bitmain Antminer S9 is the most famous and common miner, designed for mining bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies based on SHA-256 algorithm. Among the most interesting features can be admitted 13.5 TH/s, power consumption of 1 350W and two 120mm fans with a rotation speed of up to 6K rpm. The device implies 189 microcircuits on a 16 nm chip. You can try the ASIC S9j, which produces 14.5 TH/s (of course, if the producer resumes its sale).
- Innosilicon Terminator 2-Turbo. If the information of the manufacturer is reliable, then the bitcoin miners have an opportunity to get a device with a power of 24 TH/s. It uses low power chips from Samsung. The total consumption is about 1,800 W. The cost is over $1350.
- GMO B3. The Japanese vendor announced the release of one of the most efficient miners on the SHA-256 algorithm. It is designed on a 7 nm process technology and produces up to 33 TH/s. Power consumption is about 3,500 watts at maximum hashrate. The power supply is designed for 4kW. It also has such feature as being able to automatically or manually adjust the performance. This allows you to raise the hashrate to the maximum level when the profitability of mining is at its peak. It is also possible to reduce hashrate, when profitability decreases.
- Innosilicon A6 LTCMaster. Designed to support the Scrypt algorithm (Litecoin, Dogecoin, etc.). It has one of the highest level of hashrate among other ASICs (up to 1.23 GH/s), while maintaining electric power consumption at 1,500W. It is cooled with four fans.
- Pinldea DR-100. This device from a Chinese manufacturer was developed as an alternative to BitMain Antminer D3. On the algorithm X11 it produces 17 GH/s, consuming about 820W. The device was released in the growth phase of Dash and its payback period was 5-6 months. Now the Dash course, like many crypto currencies, dipped, but the coin is considered to have good perspectives.
These are only a few models for reference. Manufacturers offer dozens of ASICs, including their own improved models (labeled "+"). Below is a summary table of the most popular devices in terms of performance to power consumption. The most known manufacturers are Bitmain, Baikal, PinIdea, Innosilicon, Ebang Communication, Halong Mining.
Setting up and maintenance of ASICs
Setting up each ASICs is an individual process. It depends on the chosen cryptocurrency and the manufacturer's instructions. Here is some guide on how to run your ASIC:
- connect to the power supply. PSU should be connected to ports until the latch clicks. Then bridge one of the connectors to the system control panel;
- connect the network cable to the router;
- boot the system. The indicators should light up, and the fans start working at low speed;
- determine the IP address of devices. This can be done in a browser or with a utility program;
- after assigning the IP address, you need to perform a number of actions in its web interface: register the address of the mining pool, adjust the frequency and power according to required figures, change a firmware (if needed);
- After saving, ASIC reboots and start working with new setting
Some maintenance tips:
- keep ASICs away from water;
- power supply unit should suffice for stable operation, when overclocking, take power supplies with a power margin of 25-40%;
- clean devices and replace radiators at least once every few months;
- be attentive to errors and metrics indicating of potential problems with the equipment;
- diagnostics will help to identify the damage of the power circuit and the loss of chips on the board;
- keep tracking the hashrate. Its decrease indicates the deficiency of power supplied to the chip.
Situation on the cryptocurrency market is far from optimal. The rates of most currencies preserve volatility and adherence to speculative fluctuations. However, in the long term, mining remains being a stable source of passive income. As the complexity of the network increases, rewards may decrease, but you should remember that big risks promise big benefits.