First Impressions from the Gridseed 5-chip Scrypt Asic

1 Mar
2014

gridseed-5-chip-gold-scrypt-asic

Yesterday we have received our order of a single 5-chip Gridseed DualMiner device that is capable of Scrypt mining with a hasrate of 300 KHS as per the deice description, so we have already played with it for a bit and are ready to share what are our first impressions. A few days ago we have also shared our First Impressions from the DualMiner USB Scrypt ASIC that uses a single Gridchip GC3355 processor. The single chip device did work pretty well and although it needs a bit more improvement on the software side, it is well designed and works well in terms of hardware. So we were eager to try out the more powerful 5-chip version that we actually don’t know how to call exactly yet – Gridseed Golden Orb, Gridseed 5-chip Dual Miner, Lightningasic DualMiner it goes by all of these names with some variations in the color of the cooler – gold, silver, or red. The hardware inside remains the same however, capable of mining BTC and LTC at the same time or only Scrypt cryptos such as LTC with a higher performance then when working in dual mining mode. We don’t care about the BTC mining capabilities of the device, so we are going to focus only on the LTC (Scrypt) mining capabilities and performance.

gridseed-5-chip-gold-scrypt-asic-open

From the outside the miner looks pretty good, so we have opened it to see what is the build quality inside the device – checking the components and the cooling design. Unfortunately we cannot say that we are happy from what we saw inside. While the PCB design is good and seems well made, the additional components on top and the wiring disappoint. We see masking tape used to insulate components like for example the USB to COM board, amateurish solution for the button next to the adapter power socket etc. Furthermore our unit had two of the wires from the USB to COM board squashed by the bottom part of the cooler over one of the Gridseed chips. This could cause issues with cooling and can also create problems with communication between the device and the computer feeding it with work, so we had to fix some of the wiring and insulation in order to avoid possible problems in the future. We can say however that we do not really like the build quality for something that is currently sold quite expensive, it seems amateurish and like it has been assembled in someone’s garage without adequate quality control. We really expected more, especially after seeing how good the single chip USB miner was made…

cpuminer-for-gridseed-5-chip-asic

After fixing the hardware inside the miner it was time to fire up the device and try it out. So we had to look for some instructions how to use it as well as drivers and mining software (no documentation or software was included). We actually had some trouble having the miner properly recognized on half of the computers we have tried – the drivers did not function properly or did not assign a COM port for the device – it is connected via a USB port. Then to our surprise we’ve had to use a modified version of cpuminer that will work with the device and that software is really lacking advanced features that are found in the likes of cgminer for example. The miner software even does not give you a local report on the actual hashrate of the device, it only shows 0 KH/S, so you have to rely on the hashrate reported by the pool. There is also no adequate information about stale shares or hardware errors, so on the software miner side there is much work to be done for proper user experience – we need at least a recent version of cgminer modified to support the ASIC device.

gridseed-5-chip-asic-power-usage

Moving to the power consumption of the 5-chip Scrypt ASIC miner. By specifications the device should consume about 8W for Scrypt only mining and 60W for Scrypt and SHA-256 (LTC and BTC) combined mode. We are only interested by the Scrypt mining functionality of the device, so we expected to see very low power consumption, but to our surprise the watt meter showed 56W. It seems that even though we are not mining BTC with the miner that functionality is still active and the miner consumer power as if the device is working in both BTC and LTC mining mode. We’ve read that there is apparently an update released to fix the power consumption issue, but only released as a source code for the miner and you need to be able to compile it yourself – hardly anything that most miners are able to do by themselves.

So to conclude our initial impressions. It seems that these 5-chip Gridseed Dual Miners are far from ready for release to end users, however the company (companies) making them have rushed them on the market due to the user demand. They do not seem well enough built with good quality control, the mining software is in a very basic form just to say it is available and works. There is no detailed documentation for setup and use, so you will have to figure some things by yourself… not to mention any support, so if you have a problem you will have to rely on the mining community for help. It seems that these 5-chip Gridseed ASIC devices are not even in Beta, they are more like an Alfa stage product rushed to the market. We suppose that Gridseed did not even consider using these as a separate units, but had in mind to sell them in packs of 10 or 20 orbs with an additional controller that they will be connected and controlled from. We’ve ordered a single unit just to try it out before deciding is it is worth go for a 10 (3 MHS) or 20 unit (6 MHS) solution, but after reading about issues people are having with these and having issues ourselves with the single orb devices we can say that we are not happy with what we got for our money. We expected much more and actually a finished product, not some half baked solution that you can hope will work somehow and not cause you issues. We cannot recommend to an average user or miner these devices at all, if you are a technical guy with a lot of experience and knowledge in mining and miners (including software) you might like the challenge however. The single chip DualMiner USB ASICs however are a much more finished and user friendly product, so you might want to check these out for now and stay away from the bigger 5-chip devices until they become a more complete and properly working solutions.



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