Bitcoin ASIC Roundup

avalonI received an email this morning from Avalon ASIC announcing that they would be reopening orders on batch two. With record breaking hash rates and a lot of movement in the Bitcoin hardware industry, it seems like an appropriate time to do an ASIC mining roundup. For those new to mining, ASIC stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit. The Bitcoin ASICs are essentially hardware designed specifically and solely for mining Bitcoin. While there had been multiple companies working on developing ASICs for Bitcoin, currently only three have either shipped or are reportedly near shipping.

Avalon ASIC

Avalon ASIC became the first company to ship an ASIC earlier this month, putting aside fears that ASICs were merely a myth. The first ASIC owner received and started running his Avalon ASIC on January 30th with a reported hash rate between 65 and 67 GH/s. Including power costs this Avalon ASIC is reported to have paid itself off in just 9 days.

Avalon ASIC

The first Avalon ASIC

This morning Avalon announced that they will be reopening their second batch orders on Monday, February 18th at 9am EST. This batch is expected to ship between March 5th and April 5th providing an opportunity to get into ASIC mining before the Bitcoin difficulty climbs too high. Each unit costs $1,500 (USD) but must be purchased in Bitcoin. Orders can be placed through the Avalon ASIC store with WalletBit as the payment processor. Avalon did have some issues when they opened up batch two earlier this month. You can check out this bitcointalk thread for full details.

ASIC Miner

ASIC Miner has a different business model than both Avalon ASIC and Butterfly Labs as it doesn’t sell hardware directly to users. Instead, ASIC Miner opted to develop their own ASICs with the sole purpose of privately mining. Earlier this week a mysterious miner started putting out 800 GH/s on BTCGuild, which was later confirmed to be ASIC Miner. They are expected to reach a total initial hash rate of 12 TH/s. Originally you could invest in shares of ASIC Miner on the now defunct GBLSE stock exchange. If you’re interested in investing into ASIC Miner you may be able to pick up a few shares here.

ASIC Miner Rack

An ASIC Miner Rack

Butterfly Labs

Of the three major producers of Bitcoin ASICs, Butterfly Labs is the only one that hasn’t yet shipped. They have shipped other Bitcoin related hardware in the past such as FPGAs but their ASICs have experienced a series of unfortunate delays. First scheduled for shipment in late 2012, Butterfly Labs is well behind their original timeline. However, their most recent announcements provide a ray of hope. The chips for their first batch are reported to have been produced and are at the bumping facility where they’ll be soldered/assembled. Hopefully there won’t be any more delays and we will be seeing BFL ASICs in the next couple of weeks.

Butterfly Labs SC Single ASIC

Butterfly Labs SC Single ASIC

Butterfly Labs’ designs differ a bit from their competitors. They offer four different configurations of their ASIC chips with pricing at $149 for 4.5 GH/s, $649 for 30 GH/s, $1,299 for 60 GH/s, and $29,899 for 1,500 GH/s. Additionally their power consumption may be lower than their competitors. However, this is mostly based on information from Butterfly Labs. BFL’s product specifications have not been independently verified.

Bitcoin Hardware Industry

You don’t have to be a professional Bitcoin miner in order to appreciate what the arrival of this hardware means. Even Bitcoin enthusiasts, investors and users may benefit from the emergence of ASICs on the network. Not only does the increased hash rate help to secure the network but it is also indicative of an emergent industry. With the arrival of ASICs, Bitcoin now has it’s own mining industry with companies built off of both producing equipment and mining Bitcoins. As has been posted elsewhere, Bitcoin has gone pro.

You can contact CryptoJunky regarding this article and others at cryptojunky ( at ) zoho dot com.