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This is part 3 in a 4 part series discussing the current state of bitcoin mining.
This post discusses the current ASIC bitcoin mining hardware options – Avalon, BFL, and ASIC Miner – and evaluates the benefits and risks of each. ASIC development is not easy, and bitcoin has been riddled with companies that have inspired little confidence from their customers. It was pretty clear that the first ASICs to market would be printing their weight in gold every day. It’s estimated when Jeff Garzik got his miner, he was earning over 10 btc per day (which if he held would be well over $1000 per day at the current exchange rate) We’ll ignore the companies that turned out to be complete frauds – taking customer’s pre-orders and disappearing with their money – and focus on the companies that that have created products.
Originally entering the market to avoid allowing Butterfly Labs to have a monopoly, Avalon has become the only company to sell ASIC hardware at a consumer level. Avalon has taken pre-orders for three batches of “first generation” ASIC miners so far, all estimated to run at about 60 GHash/s – sold at $1,299, $1,499 and ฿75. Avalon was the first company to ship the first working products in late January 2013 to Jeff Garzik – a lead bitcoin developer – as well as the Bitcoin Foundation [forum source]. Their first batch of ASICs were completed in late March, and they will be taking a break before shipping their second batch starting mid April.
Sold out, batch 4 has not been announced yet.
Butterfly Labs first broke into the bitcoin mining market with a set of FPGA miners. After their initial success they decided to delve into the ASIC market place. They began taking pre-orders at the end of June [source] with an initial promised ship date at the end of September. They decided to skip the “first generation” of ASIC miners running at 650 Watts (i.e. Avalon) and attempt a 50 Watt model with the promise of >1 GHash/Watt.
ASIC Miner is a publicly traded mining company that plans on eventually selling their ASIC technology to other miners. ASICM had originally planned to start selling ASIC cards later in the year, however they anticipate producing their second generation cards faster than they are able to be installed so it seems likely that they will make a shipping announcement soon (see the CEO Friedcat’s latest statements here) See also: Bitcoin mining companies [article coming soon] for more information on ASIC Miner as a company.
Not yet available – shipping test cards is imminent, with an announcement of pre-sales likely soon after.
UPDATE: ASICMiner has announced they will be auction off 10 GH/s boards. More information available in the article here
Disclaimer: The author of this article has publicly traded shares of ASICMiner at the time of writing this article.