All About BItcoin and Litecoin mining and other alternative crypto currencies
BitPay, a Bitcoin payment processor, has announced a new free plan which offers basic payment processing free-of-charge, forever, making it even more attractive for new businesses to start accepting payments in Bitcoin from their customers. The new free plan allows merchants to use any plugin, API, or app from BitPay’s library and the only difference as compared to the $300 USD monthly Business plan is the lack of phone support and Quickbooks sales integration. With the free plan you still get support, however it is email only. BitPay is aiming to have one million merchants accepting Bitcoin by the end of 2016.
Coinbase, another similar service, has been offering for quite some time a plan to merchants that has no fees for the first $1,000,000 USD in transactions, after that the fee is just 1% to instantly convert Bitcoin to cash. The idea for accepting Bitcoin payments is to lower the fees for the seller and thus the price for the end user as compared to the fees when accepting credit card payments for example. This should help widen the Bitcoin adoption as a method to pay for services and goods with the merchant still getting his payment in USD or another currency even though the client pays in Bitcoins.
We have been testing the new Next Generation of ZeusMiner Scrypt ASICs (Zeus Lightning X6, Zeus Thunder X6 and the Zeus Hurricane X6) for a few days already and have already reported our very first impressions. Now we have some more interesting findings and information available to share with you based on our continuing tests, this time we are going to focus on the power usage of the new X6 series of miners that are supposed to be more power efficient – their key feature. What Zeus has done with their ZeusMiner X6 Scrypt ASICs is essentially lowering the operating voltage and power and thus achieving lower power consumption. If this was not also combined with new lower prices as well the new X6 miners would not be so interesting, but their new lower prices (even though you cannot yet take advantage from them directly buying from Zeus due to their pre-order 1+1 bonus promotion) at their distributors are actually quite attractive combined with the lower power consumption.
We have already discovered that the best operating frequencies of the new miners (there is no recommended frequency published on the official website for the advertised hashrates) seems to be at about 245-250 MHz for the ZeusMiner Thunder X6 and the ZeusMiner Hurricane X6, however the ZeusMiner Lightning X6 does not appear to be handling so well at these operating frequencies. In fact even at 230-235 MHz we are still seeing HW error rate of about 10% or more which in our opinion is a bit too high, but going lower in terms of operating frequency does lead to decrease in the hasrate of about 40-42 MHS. So what is the reason for this difference? We have already suspected that the operating voltage of the Lightning X6 is even lower than what it is on the smaller Thunder X6 and Hurricane X6, but checking out the actual power consumption of the miners and opening them up to inspect them has confirmed our suspicion. Zeus has even made it very easy to spot the difference by putting a label of the actual voltage used by each board and as you can see on the photos, the Thunder and Hurricane X6 miners have 1.1V used and the Lightning X6 has the chip voltage lowered to 1.05V. This is probably done in order to get the total power usage of the Scrypt ASIC miner below 1 KW, but as a result you will need to use an operating frequency of about 220 MHz for low HW error rate and the hashrate you can expect is more like 36-38 MHS and not 40-42 MHs. But this is not the only concern we have with the new miners as Zeus has done some more optimizations, probably with the idea to cut costs further, that we do not like very much.
We are stating with the power usage of the 9-10 MHS ZeusMiner Hurricane X6, according to the official specifications is should use about 230W of power and a good 250W power supply is recommended, though you probably will not be able to find a 250-300W 80 Plus Gold or Platinum PSU, you can use a more powerful one. Running the Hurricane X6 miner at 250 MHz operating frequency we have measured an actual power consumption of about 276-278 Watts. This is a bit higher than the claimed power usage, and though it may not be such a big of a deal, when you consider that the miner is powered via a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector this raises some concerns.
Moving to the power usage of the 18-20 MHS ZeusMiner Thunder X6 we see on the official website a power consumption of 450W claimed with a good quality 500W power supply recommended. Our tests have shown a different number running the miner at 250 MHz, the number we got is more like 542-546 Watts and that is like 100W more. This is essentially double the power usage of the Hurricane X6 as the Thunder X6 does have twice the number of chips inside, so it is to be expected if both miner run at the same frequency and use the same voltage for the ASIC chips.
Next up is the power usage we have measured for the 40-42 MHS ZeusMiner Lightning X6 Scrypt ASIC. The officially cited power consumption is 980W with a good 1200W PSU as a recommendation. Our tests have shown actual power consumption for the miner at just about 906-914W at an operating frequency of 230 MHz and about 970W measured at the wall (taking into account the PSU efficiency). Here the power consumption is not double the one from the Thunder X6 even though the number of chips inside is doubled and the reason for that is the lower voltage of the chips that is 1.05V instead of 1.1V. It has been lowered as otherwise the actual power consumption should’ve been something like 1100 Watts at 1.1V.
We’ve confirmed that the power consumption numbers on the ZeusMiner website are not entirely correct, they are lower on the smaller miners and higher ton the top miner compared to what we have measured. That however is not the actual problem here, the problem and the thing we did not like much is the fact that Zeus has reduced in half the number of PCI-E power connectors available to power the new miners. As you should know by specifications power supplies are designed to supply 75W over the 6-pin PCI-E power connector and 150W over the 8-pin PCI-E power, even though the actual hardware is usually capable of supporting higher power as these were originally designed to power video cards. The 18 AWG wires used normally in most power supplies (some use 16 AWG) and the connectors should be capable of 8-10A over a single 12V wire and with 3x 12V lines on both 6-pin and 8-pin PCI-E power connectors this should in theory easily cover up to 300W. The problem however comes from the fact that PSU manufacturers are not required to design their products to handle so much power over a single rail for PCI-E power connector and most don’t do it, even if they do supply some extra over the 75W/150W requirements they have. So 300W per single 6-pin PCI-E power line can be a bit overkill for an ASIC miner running 24/7 and the easiest way to confirm that without special equipment is to check the wire by touching it after the miner is started. if it quickly gets hot, then things are definitely not Ok, though it is just a bit warmer to the touch it might be fine.
Having 278 Watts of power provided to the ZeusMiner Hurricane X6 over a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector is something that raises some concerns, so you should be extra careful what power supply you are using. With the ZeusMiner Thunder X6 the situation is very similar, though here you have two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors with each transferring about 273 Watts of power. Things are a bit better with the ZeusMiner Lightning X6 that has 4x 6-pin PCI-E power connectors with each one getting just about 228.5 Watts. So what ZeusMiner should have done is actually double the number of PCI-E power connectors on their miner to distribute power more evenly to each board and to lower the load on each of the PCI-E power lines. We do recommend to be extra cautions when you are setting up the new miners and check the cables to make sure that they are not getting very host quickly after you turn on the miner as this may potentially lead to damage of the hardware – both the miner and the power supply and this is something that you will want to avoid.
There is now a sph-sgminer fork with Luffa512 algorithm support available thanks to djm34 (source), the guy that just released ccMiner fork with Luffa512 support. We have compiled a windows binary from the latest source and have already tested it mining DoomCoin on an AMD Radeon R9 280X GPU to see what performance we are going to get – the result was about 143 MHS (faster than current performance on Nvidia GPUs). You can download and try the windows binary yourself from the link below. Do note that this version of sph-sgminer also supports most other new algorithms as well, so you an use it for mining not only DoomCoin. Also make sure to be using the latest 14.6/14.7 beta drivers from AMD in order to get the best performance and currently it seems that Nvidia GPU miners have some advantage in terms of performance for this algorithm.