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As TGB forecast back in May, the first shipments of Avalon’s ASIC chips have started arriving. Images were posted on BTCMan.com and the bitcointalk.org forums showing large quantities of chips arriving at a warehouse. The photographs were release by Fujian Yan Tan, a retailer of Avalon ASIC boards, who plans to resell the ASIC chips after mounting them in the boards. Low estimates for Avalon’s total shipped mining speed range from 105 TH/s to almost 1,000 TH/s.
Although slightly cut off, it appears there are 24 shipping boxes in the first photograph. Each of the large shipping boxes contains 6 smaller boxes that hold 10 trays of ASIC chips. Given that each chip has a standard clock speed of 282 MH/s, with 260 chips per tray the 10 large boxes in the photographs contain over 105 TH/s. There is evidence that chips can clock to over 450 MH/s, so using an estimate of 400 MH/s to leave some margin would result in 150 TH/s for the 24 boxes. Given that the current network speed is 225 TH/s, these chips coming online would constitute a 40% increase over current hashing power, more than the entire network speed at the end of May.
Most surprisingly, there is evidence that there were actually 135 boxes in the shipment that arrived for these photographs. This would indicate 593 TH/s at the standard 282 MH/s clock speed, or a monstrous 842 TH/s overclocked to 400 MH/s per chip. Given the high estimate, that would add almost 500% to the network speed.
This raises significant security concerns for bitcoin since so much hashing power is localized in a single location. This centralization of hashing power underscores the relative weakness of the bitcoin mining network in the context of the recent surplus in customized ASIC hardware. Fortunately, as these products are distributed and more ASIC companies come online the network will be that much stronger for it.
While Avalon has not released information how many chips have been ordered, a 135 box shipment would amount to over 2.1 million ASIC chips. Given that Avalon sells them in batches of 10,000 for 780 BTC, this lot alone is worth over 164,000 BTC ($14,700,000). Avalon and ASICMiner have proven that a quick-to-market high-volume product is worth significantly more than more high-tech products like Buttefly Lab’s miners that have been riddled with delays.
The exif data on the images (meta-data embedded to every photograph) shows:
Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL | 18mm F4 1/60 ISO400 | 2013:07:09 18:51:36 | ACD Systems Digital Imaging
Since the photograph was taken on July 9th, it seems unlikely that these chips will start mining within the next couple weeks. Board development still needs to be finalized and sent into production Then chips need to be set in the boards, tested, and shipped to customers. However, it remains clear that the hashing war has only just begun.