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As money continues to pour into bitcoin mining investments, this week has seen a series of announcements from new companies offering a broad spectrum of opportunities for market participants. With promises ranging from massive improvements in bitcoin ASIC chip specs to fully managed ASIC farms with profit sharing plans, the bitcoin network may be set to change not only in total speed, but in concentration of hashing power as well.
After posting information about their well-credentialed team on their website earlier this week, Cointerra took to the bitcointalk forums yesterday to offer more detail into the performance and timing of one of their new ASIC chips. Titled the GoldStrike1, the chips are said to feature a 28nm process offering more than 500 GH/s at less than 1 Watt per GH and are expected for delivery by the end of 2013.
To put that into context, each chip would have the same hashing power as the largest bitcoin mining rig offered by Butterfly Labs, with less than 20% of the power consumption. Part of this is due to using a 28nm process compared to BFL’s 65nm, as well as their team’s engineering work. The closest current competitor from a hardware standpoint is KnCMiner, who offers rigs up to 400 GH/s with 4 28nm chips per device. KnCMiner opted to convert their FPGA designs to ASIC, a process that saves significant engineering work and reduces schedule risk but reduces efficiency of design.
Cointerra expects that by customizing their ASIC design to perform the SHA256 calculations required for mining they will be able to produce a much more efficient design than other 28nm bitcoin mining chips. To reduce schedule risk they partnered with Open-Silicon, an experienced manufacturer of ASIC chip technology. What remains to be determined is the cost of Cointerra’s chips, which could be a deciding factor in this increasingly competitive landscape.
Yesterday Coinlab, run by Bitcoin Foundation Executive Chairman emeritus Peter Vessenes, announced a new incubator program as well as their first investment in Alydian. Alydian will offer a hosted mining service, enabling customers to rent ASIC hashing time at Alydian’s datacenter or for use at their own datacenters.
At launch, Alydian is charging $65-70K per TH/s of hashing power and using 65nm chip technology. That rate includes one year of hosting, as well as all electricity and maintenance costs. This turn-key solution is expected to be available this month, but the price range of available packages puts the option out of the reach of most consumers. The pricing only includes 1 year of hosting, however, with current network growth rates it seems likely that current generation miners will not be profitable for much longer than that.
A new industrial mine from a British Virgin Islands company named DigiMex is expected to be ready for operation by the end of 2013, potentially as early as November. The mine is expected to achieve 500 TH/s, or roughly 150% of the current speed of the entire bitcoin network, and will reinvest 25% of profits to continually increase that figure on an ongoing basis.
The company cites a relationship with HashFast as the source of their significant mining capacity, specifically noting 400 GH/s ASIC chips that will be continually delivered. HashFast chips are produce in coordination with Uniquify Inc. Uniquify has been producing ASIC chips for 10 years and has completed over 100 designs. IPO shares were issued at 0.0014 BTC each, with each share representing 1/50,000,000 of IceDrill’s 500 TH/s in November. Although HastFast’s delivery and per-chip pricing has been cloaked behind an NDA, the November projection and $14/GH IPO pricing gives indications for their plans.
IceDrill says it has already raised an undisclosed amount of investment capital and will supplement that with the capital from a public profit sharing offering. The company is raising investments against 60% of future profits across 30M total shares offered. The shares will entitle holders to weekly distributions of 75% of profits, with the remaining 25% to be reinvested in the mine to continue growing total hashing power.
The new options announced offer an interesting glimpse into the wide spectrum of exposure possible in bitcoin mining investments, from individual chips running at industry leading speeds that can be distributed globally, to highly centralized mines holding the single key to hashing power multiple times the size of the current network. As the market has been reminded repeatedly, any true revolutions in mining capacity will be driven less by lofty promises and more by those who can actually deliver.