The first bitcoins were mined on a regular computer. A few years later, electronics manufacturers have created a special mining computer that exceeds the usual capacity by a thousand times, the ASIC miner. The device excites the minds of users who are interested in crypto-production. What is an ASIC miner? What manufacturers of ASIC miners exist? How does ASIC mining work? Understand this article!
What is ASIC mining?
ASIC mining is the extraction of a crypto coin using a device specially created for this purpose – the ASIC miner. Represents this mining by itself the same as regular mining, that is, deciphering the blockchain, mining blocks, and so on.
Before the advent of ASIC mining, coins were mined mainly on video cards. There were other types of mining, for example, on processors, but they quickly became unprofitable.
Video cards brought a good profit, so farms began to appear from several devices that are still used today.
By 2012, there were two main problems that worry miners today, namely:
- The increase in the complexity of the extraction unit, because of what began to require large capacity.
- Excessive power consumption, growing in proportion to the increase in capacity.
These problems required an innovative solution.
First, he was offered by the Chinese company Butterfly Labs in the summer of 2012, she began to take pre-orders for devices based on microcircuits developed for mining Bitcoin. These were the first ASIC miners.
One and a half months after the announcement of BFL, Asicminer appeared in the south of China, offering similar products. Following her – also Chinese Avalon.
How does an ASIC miner work?
“Officially” ASIC stands for “special purpose integrated circuit” (Eng .: “Application Specific Integrated Circuit”).
The concept of ASIC is not at all the domain of the crypto industry. ASIC appeared long before the invention of cryptocurrency and was first used by the British company Sinclair Research in 1981 in personal computers to speed up their graphic work.
As a matter of fact, ASIC is a microcircuit (or a chip, as they are also called), which performs one specific type of work, but faster and better than similar microcircuits that perform several types of work.
Manufacturers of ASIC miners have developed chips that are better and faster than other chips to decipher the algorithm underlying the functioning of one or another blockchain.
For example, the Bitcoin blockchain functions on the SHA 256 algorithm, and the Lightcoin base is another algorithm — Scrypt. Ethereum and many other cryptocurrencies have their own algorithms.
ASICs are developed for one or another algorithm and decode it ten times faster than video cards and any other electronic computing devices since all their components are directed to work with this algorithm.
Due to this, the power consumption spent on obtaining one crypto coin is significantly reduced. To achieve the performance of an ASIC miner on a farm of video cards, the farmer will have to build a farm for dozens of video cards, and the power consumption will be tens of kilowatts, respectively.
ASIC miner with the same performance will consume 1 2 kW. Professional ASIC miners, of course, consume more, but in general, the performance/power consumption ratio does not go to any comparison with the same indicator for video card farms.
Physically, an ASIC miner is a unit in which there are:
- ASIC boards made up of the aforementioned chips;
- a memory unit that provides the software operation of the ASIC miner;
- connectors for connecting external devices (wired cable, computer, etc., depending on the configuration of the ASIC miner);
- housing and connecting elements.
The size of the device, as a rule, is several tens of centimeters in each of the measurements (length, width, height). Previously, quite small USB devices were practiced, but their performance was low even at the time of their appearance, so now they are unprofitable.
What manufacturers of ASIC miners exist?
Hypothetically, you can make this device by yourself – if you understand electronics and find mining chips that are almost never available for sale.
Several chip manufacturers are working on optimizing mining chips. Their goal is to increase device performance while reducing power consumption, heating, and physical size.
The developers are based on existing chips that are used in modern laptops, tablets, and other electronics. Work in this direction is, in particular, Samsung, Intel, and California Global Foundries.
Major manufacturers of ASIC miners are in Europe (for example, the Swedish KnC Miner). The Taiwanese semiconductor chip maker TSMC is also working on the creation of chips for mining.
Which is cheaper: ASIC-miners or farm cards?
The most budgetary and most common ASIC miners cost $ 1.5 3 thousand. These are the so-called “home” devices with relatively low power consumption.
For example, for mining Bitcoin, ASIC miners are now produced with a capacity of about 7 14 TH / s and energy consumption of 1 2 kW. The device at 7 TH / s can be bought for $ 1.5 2 thousand, and 11 14 TH / s will cost $ 3 thousand or slightly more.
ASIC miner for the extraction of Ethereum with a capacity of 265 MH / s and power consumption of 600 750 W can be bought for $ 2.2 2.3 thousand, and with a capacity of 400 MH / s and power consumption of 800 900 W – already for $ 3.2 thousand
“Semi-professional” ASIC miners cost about $ 6,800 and consume 3 4 kW. A “professional” devices require 5 kW and cost at least $ 10 thousand.
Budget ASIC miners for the extraction of altcoins are comparable in performance to farms with 6 video cards of $ 600,800 each or 8 9 video cards worth $ 400,500 each. Add another $ 300,400 on other components – and we can conclude that the ASIC miners are much cheaper.
What can be mined as an miner?
A few years ago, ASIC miners were made only under Bitcoin. This was the reason that cryptocurrency earners turned to altcoins, there was no fierce competition made up by ASIC boards, and it was possible to mine using cheap farms on video cards and even on powerful desktop computers.
Since then, the situation has changed. ASIC miners for Bitcoin have become a lot of industrial farms of giants. Ordinary users bought them less and less, and manufacturers, naturally, began to produce ASIC miners for other cryptocurrencies.
Thanks to the development of the sphere, now with their help you can mine currencies acting on the following algorithms:
- SHA-256 (currency Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, BitcoinDark, Syscoin, Peercoin, Namecoin, etc.);
- X11 (currency Dash, Pura, etc.);
- Ethash (currencies Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Metaverse ETP, Ubiq, etc.);
- Scrypt (Litecoin, Dogecoin, B3Coin, Bitdeal, etc.);
- Equihash (Zcash, Komodo and others);
- Blake (2b) (Decred, Siacoin).
Moreover, there are ASIC miners that support not one, but two algorithms and thus give the device owner more room for activity.
ASIC miners: the situation today
Now ASIC miners are a serious competitor to video card farms, but one cannot say that they are squeezing them out because they have several significant drawbacks.
The main thing is that the ASIC miners are sharpened by one, maximum of two algorithms. With a significant change in the crypto-market, the device cannot be converted to other currencies, while the farm on video cards can be “trained” to obtain any cryptocurrency that suggests this possibility.
The second problem is related to the low prevalence of ASIC miners due to their specificity. The consumer can buy video cards anywhere, and the ASIC miner needs to be ordered unclear where it is unclear from whom.
Some countries (Russia, for example) qualify a miner assembled by the ASIC as a device for encrypting data and not letting it pass through customs, which is why they are imported disassembled, sometimes illegally, and then collected. All this is not at all conducive to their reliability in the eyes of the consumer, as well as reliability in general.
If some element in the farm breaks on the video cards, then simply replace it. At least, it is possible to find in the city or region the person who will do it.
The ASIC miner will most likely have to be sent to the manufacturer. Even under warranty, this occupation is time-consuming and time-consuming, and without a guarantee, repairing an ASIC miner can cost you a lump sum.
There are other reasons why many people prefer ASIC to miners on video cards. But they all boil down to the fact that the farm, although less productive, is simpler and involves much less risk.
Nevertheless, the development of new ASIC miners is quite active. Bitcoin mining is not nearly as cost-effective as it was a couple of years ago, but mining altcoins using home ASIC miners is now very promising. This is what manufacturers are guided by, releasing low-end devices.
It is difficult to say what will happen with the industry after that and in which direction it will develop. Perhaps manufacturers will bet on increasing the hash rate (performance) of ASIC miners. Perhaps – for versatility, that is, for support in one device of the largest possible number of algorithms.
Whatever it was, we can assume that the ASIC miners will follow the path of ordinary computers in the sense that they turn the entire wall of inefficient monsters into compact devices that can be switched on without fear of wiring.
If the mining industry does not make a breakthrough, turning it in a radically different direction, it is likely that in a few years we will see ASIC miners that are distinguishable from the tablet only with the enormous power of embedded chips.