Since the last update we’ve seen HashFast tapeout, create a miner protection program, let us know they are working on another chip, and released a new option for miners, the Sierra.
Having founded Devicescape Software in late 2000, Eduardo de-Castro and Simon Barber are not new to venture backed start-ups. Devicescape specializes in wifi connectivity. After becoming successful in this business for a number of years Simon became interested in Bitcoin and wrote his white paper. This was 2011, the same year he was courting investors to help him make an ASIC.
Unfortunately it was too early in the game, and they weren’t ready to sign on. “It was disappointing and frustrating. He really believed at the time (rightfully so) that we had a great idea. Today – many of those investors regret not funding him the first time,” says John Skrodenis. Well apparently they did come around, investing enough to design and tapeout the Golden Nonce (GN) chip with the largest, most experienced team that bitcoin mining has seen.
After going through their short list of possible design teams, they found Uniquify to be the most experienced and able. The HashFast team worked on conceptual, front end, and logic, leaving the physical design and management of the fabrication to Uniquify. Their engineers have a great deal of experience in this area, and HashFast was able to create a team from which even the most junior member had already been involved in designing ten 28nm chips. Being the only company that is designing chips with a team that has already been through many 28nm tapeouts could be a huge advantage.
In a recent interview Simon Barber told me that they paid a premium be able to hand pick the best engineers from their company. Since Uniquify has been through the process so many times they were able to help smooth the process out, and give a gestalt view. This greater awareness of the situation allowed HashFast to choose the most appropriate path for a chip designed to mine bitcoin. For instance, some semiconductor manufacturers emphasize low cost over speed.
Normally this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but bitcoin? The difficulty is doubling every month, recently. Every delay counts. Many of the 28nm chips began at the same time, after people realized that Avalon and Butterfly labs could use a little competition. The race is so close that if one company cuts costs a little by using a slower process, they and their customers could be left behind.
Uniquify directed HashFast to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC). The largest semiconductor manufacturer, a couple distinct advantages of going with TSMC are fast production, and low error rate. With the large infrastructure, and stability that brings, it looks like HashFast customers can feel assured that everything possible has been done to secure their future mining profits.
Another way that HashFast is giving their customers a leg up is through their Miner Protection Program (MPP). The Baby Jets in the first batch are automatically protected. Miners from batch two have the option to buy into the MPP. For those that have it, they are guaranteed up to 400% additional hashing power if the difficulty rises fast enough that your machine doesn’t pay for itself.
For instance with a Baby Jet you start with 400GH, and could get an additional 1.6TH for a total of 2TH. For a current order this would add an additional $1,500 to the original price of $3,500 for a total of $5,000. At this point we don’t know exactly when the extra equipment would ship so it’s difficult to give estimates on what kind of ROI this will give. There’s no other deal quite like it, though.
HashFast also announced their Sierra recently. As you can see here the return is exceptional. This 1.2TH machine goes for $9,500. Or if you think the difficulty will destroy your return you can add the MPP on for a total of $14,000. This would give the potential of 4.8TH. Or perhaps more.
Simon Barber on Bitcointalk, “One highly relevant feature regarding power use is that the GN chip incorporates on-die temperature sensors and a control system designed to adjust voltage and clock speed to the capacity of the cooling system. Thus if the cooling system can dissipate a greater amount of heat, the software can “overclock” the chip to fit it’s power usage to the heat dissipation capacity, and produce greater hashing capacity.”
You can assume that room temperature has a great deal to do with how well the cooling system works. Looks like we need a place with a cold climate and cheap electricity. Will someone please set up a tidal generator near the North or South Pole, and host there?
Speaking of hosting, HashFast has tentatively announced that they are working on an option. According to a recent post we should be hearing back from them soon. This can have a number of benefits. The company that designs and creates a product is often the best placed to repair, upgrade, and optimize performance. Hosting opens up the market for those that can’t mine their selves. The only barrier left is the large price tag of the most efficient models, like the Sierra. Since I believe that HashFast is relatively undervalued, and nobody has jumped in to create a group buy specifically for them, I’ve decided to start putting some effort toward that here.
With all the work that the HashFast team has put in, it seems they would be ready to sit down for a second and catch their breath. Apparently they are going farther than anyone currently imagines. FinFET is a 3d structure that gives transistors a greater capacity, and utility. There are a few things to overcome before the manufacturing process can be streamlined. The design will also be quite a new terrain.
In conclusion, if you are watching the market of bitcoin mining equipment manufacturers there are a lot of companies vying for attention. If you’re still not sure of what company you should be with, HashFast deserves a good look.
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