BitFury to Mass Produce New 16nm Chip and Sell to Public

Bitcoin Magazine
BitFury to Mass Produce New 16nm Chip and Sell to Public

BitFury, the third-largest mining operation by total hashrate, announced in December that it will be mass-producing its custom 16nm ASIC chip and selling the chip directly to consumers.

“Each chip will achieve 40-55 GH/s at the highest possible efficiency of 0.055-0.07 J/GH. From 55 GH/s to 180 GH/s the chop follows nearly linear slop of efficiency from ~0.06 J/GH to 0.2 J/GH,” said Valery Vavilov, CEO of BitFury, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine . Further, the 16nm chip is capable of running with a power supply voltage of 0.35 V.

The cooling mechanism used with these mining chips is an important factor in determining the maximum hashrate. According to the company’s announcement, for miners using a traditional air cooling setup, the ASIC will be able to reach hashing power of 140 GH/s. However, by using liquid immersion cooling, the chip can reach hashrates of up to 184 GH/s. In October, BitFury announced that it would be using 3M’s Novec 7100 Engineered Fluid for immersion cooling in its data centers.

BitFury partnered with GUC, a Taiwanese ASIC design service company, to design the custom 16nm chip. “We have worked closely with BitFury’s experienced IC designers and we are glad to assist BitFury to achieve this outstanding result. GUC is proud that the BitFury-GUC partnership resulted in the first 16nm full custom tape-out for both parties,” said Jim Lai, President of GUC, in a statement.

As the size of the chip gets smaller, it becomes increasingly difficult to mass-produce them.

“Needless to say, this technological advancement didn’t come easy and there were challenges to getting there but we are extremely pleased with the result,” said Vavilov.

While the chips are being produced, there are no miners incorporating the chip are yet being manufactured.

“We are working on several designs and will announce in near future,” said Vavilov. “We are planning to roll out the products starting from late Q1 2016. Price point will be determined by the total performance of the product and will be lower by $/GH than anything that is available on the market at this time.”

A Trend Toward Decentralization

Throughout 2015, there was a growing concern among the Bitcoin community that the mining space was centralizing, with the larger operations continuing to grow their share of the network and building new mining farms.

However, with the recent launch of the Antminer S7, the BW miner, the new Avalon ASIC, and now the BitFury, it appears that smaller miners are able to purchase the newest, most efficient, and cutting-edge chips developed by the large chip manufacturers.

“BitFury is fundamentally committed to being a responsible player in the Bitcoin community and we want to work with all integrated partners and resellers to make our unique technology widely available ensuring that the network remains decentralized and we move into the exhash era together,” Vavilov told Bitcoin Magazine.

Jacob Cohen Donnelly is a consultant and journalist in the Bitcoin space. He runs a weekly newsletter about bitcoin called Crypto Brief .

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Bitcoin Wallet Developer Andreas Schildbach: I Will Not Invest My Time in Lightning Networks

Andreas Schildbach, one of the developers of the popular Bitcoin Wallet app for Android and maintainer of alternative Bitcoin implementation Bitcoinj , calls for a block-size increase to allow for more Bitcoin transactions. Rather than relying on additional layers built on top of the blockchain, Schildbach believes the network should be designed to scale “on-chain”, too.

“I personally will not invest my time in lightning networks, at least not for solving the Bitcoin scalability issue,” Schildbach told Bitcoin Magazine .

The block-size dispute – which represents a trade-off between thenumber of transactions the Bitcoin network can handle and its decentralization – has taken a bit of a turn since a large segment of Bitcoin’s academic and engineering community discussed the issue at the upcoming Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Hong Kong on the 6th and 7th of this month. Core developer and Blockstream co-founder Pieter Wuille’s Segregated Witness , in particular, is embraced by many within Bitcoin’s development community. As part of a scalability roadmap that needs no hard fork, the proposal could help allow added scaling layers such as the Lightning Network to be rolled out.

Schildbach, who maintains Bitcoinj alongside Mike Hearn (who’s also lead developer of Bitcoin XT) believes raising the block-size limit through a hard fork needs to happen sooner rather than later, however.

“The Segregated Witness proposal is very interesting, and could provide a valuable addition to the Bitcoin protocol once finished,” Schildbach said. “But blocks are already full. If we want everyone to use Bitcoin, then we need to make room for them. I believe this matter is urgent, given the time it needs to properly prepare for a hard fork. Bitcoin XT and Bitcoin Core developer Gavin Andresen has doneextensive tests that show that Bitcoin scales linearly up to 20 MB blocks, and improved block compression solutions such as ‘thin blocks ‘ will decrease redundancy in block propagation, limiting centralization risks.”

While most within the Bitcoin development community believe the block size needs to be increased at some point even with Segregated Witness on the table, opinions still differ on when and how to do this, exactly.

Andresen’s proposed solution,BIP 101 , was implemented by Hearn into Bitcoin XT, and is programmed to increase the maximum block size to 8 megabytes if a threshold of 75 percent of mining power accepts the change. Once activated, this limit is set to double every two years for 20 years, ultimately leading to an 8-gigabyte block-size limit.

An alternative idea isBlockstream CEO and hashcash inventor Dr. Adam Back’s “2-4-8” quick fix, which would incrementally increase to the limit 8 megabytes over four years.

Similarly, Bitcoin Core developer Jeff Garzik’s BIP 102 (or his similar “BIP 202”), proposes a bump to 2 megabytes. Combines with Segregated Witness, this could effectively provide for up to 4 to 8 megabyte blocks, too.

Schildbach, who maintains Bitcoinj alongside Hearn, indicates to be willing to accept almost any solution the Bitcoin community decides on.

“I support any proposal that increases the block size limit, as long as it doesn’t introduce pitfalls like the ability to decrease it,” he said. “If the community agrees on a fixed limit of just 2 megabyte, then so be it. It would likely lead to the same discussion in one or two years, but hopefully then the community will have learned from the pains of the 1 megabyte limit.”

Schildbach is sceptical about any solution that does not involve a block-size increase, however. According to the developer, whose Bitcoin Wallet has been downloaded more than a million times, additional layers built on top of Bitcoin designed to scale the system would make things needlessly complicated – and take too long to develop.

“The Lightning Network and similar proposals will cause a complexity explosion on Bitcoin as a whole,” Schildbach said. “It will take quite a while to implement, test, fix and roll out the protocol. I’m talking of years, rather than months. I’m aware Blockstream is working on the core implementation. But work on necessary infrastructure, like wallets and the payment protocol hasn’t even started, as far as I know.”

Photo John Fowler / Flickr(CC)

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