First Impressions from the ZeusMiner Blizzard Scrypt ASIC

11 Jun
2014

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The ZeusMiner Scrypt ASICs were something that we were anticipating with interest, so we have pre-ordered the smallest ZeusMiner Blizzard Scrypt ASIC last month and this week we finally got our unit. With the initial specifications that Zeus has promised for their Scrypt ASIC miners they were going to be the perfect successor and a replacement for the Gridseed ASICs, and especially the 1.2 MHS Blizzard miner as it was supposed to offer very nice performance at an acceptable price and with low power consumption. Initially Zeus has promised to deliver 1.2 MHS Scrypt hashrate with a power consumption of just 15W, these were the specifications when we have pre-ordered our Blizzard unit. In the end however it seems that Zeus had some problems with the power efficiency and their miners ended up consuming more than they have anticipated and this is their biggest drawback. Instead of the ZeusMiner chips being more power efficient than the Gridseed in fact they ended up with pretty much the same power consumption or maybe even a bit worse.

Their idea is probably to compensate the increased power usage with a better price of the miners for the upcoming batches, but the people that did pre-order early were kind of screwed up as they have paid more for something a bit different than what they got in the end. Don’t get us wrong, but paying $199 USD for a 1.2 MHS Blizzard miner that was supposed to use 15W of power and getting a device that actually uses 44W as our tests have shown for the same hashrate is not great. It is not even double, but triple the power consumption that was initially announced and even though you can squeeze a bit more extra hashrate with just a slight increase in hashrate does not help much in justifying this much of a difference. With all that said, we actually liked the ZeusMiner Blizzard, though we do have some small notes to go along with the complaints about the significant increase in the power usage. These are all pretty much regarding the fact that Zeus needs to start paying a bit more attention to the little details in their miners and this goes not only for the smaller Blizzard, but for the larger and more expensive miners as well. At the moment if you look at the Zeus website you would see that they have updated the specs of the Blizzard to 1.35 MHS with a power consumption of 40W, something that we have actually achieved on our unit, but with about 48W of power consumption.

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Now, enough with the complaining let us see what you are actually getting with the 1.2 MHS ZeusMiner Blizzard Scrypt ASIC miner. You get a 6-chip ASIC miner with a fan attached over the aluminium cooler, a micro-USB cable for connecting the device to a PC and a power adapter for powering up the device. The rest you can find on their website, namely some brief instructions and the drivers and mining software which is essentially a modified version of an earlier cgminer. Here goes an example of one of the small things that needs more attention – the cable for the power supply is not using the standard used in the country that the miner is being shipped to. Zeus needs to pay attention to these small details – either put a cable for the USA, Europe, UK etc. power standards used or not put a cable at all and tell the buyers to get one prior to receiving the miner. In our case the supplied cable is not for use in Europe, but the good thing is that it is pretty standard cable used by almost all computer power supplies, so it is easy to get one and we have had plenty of these available already.

The second small thing that needs some consideration is to at least provide some quick startup guide printed on a piece of paper inside the miner’s box that people get. You cannot expect that everyone is very technical and already knows what he needs to do, how to connect the device and what software to install and use, especially when you do not have a quick startup guide for novice users also available on your website. Other than that you still get pretty much all you need in terms of hardware shipped to you, very well packaged and delivered quickly (once it is shipped) via an express courier service (DHL in our case), though shipping might be a bit expensive, especially for the small Blizzard miners. We’ve had to pay a bit over $50 USD for shipping from China, so Zeus needs to find some partners in other parts of the world such as Europe for example in order for faster and cheaper shipping and no need to pay extra taxes.

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A quick look at the bottom of the Blizzard shows another thing that needs to be addressed. Note that the screws holding the cooling fan on top of the unit go all the way through the aluminium cooler (the PCB is enclosed inside) and end up with the nuts holding them at the bottom of the unit. So when you place the miner on some surface, instead of the flat aluminium bottom to be resting stable on it, you have only the four screws actually holding the miner. This way they can scratch the surface the miner is placed on, make it not so stable and easy fall dawn as well as cause more noise coming from vibrations caused by the fan on top. The solution for this is very simple – 4 small rubber feet taped on the bottom of the miner. In fact the larger Zeus miners apparently also have the same issue with screws on bottom of the case and no rubber feet and there the vibrations are more serious and cause more noise due to the much larger and more powerful cooling larger fans used. One thing that Zeus needs to work more on for future batches… pay more attention to small details in order to leave customers really happy with their purchase!

zeusminer-blizzard-hashrate

As we have already mentioned the ZeusMiner Blizzard has 6 ASIC chips inside and was initially rated at 1.2 MHS total, though now it is being advertised as 1.35 MHS. Each chip has 8 cores with each core capable to provide 26.25 KHS hashrate or total 210 KHS per chip at 300 MHz operating frequency or with other words a total of 1260 KHS or 1.26 MHS. We can conclude that the default frequency for the miner is 300 MHz as at this operating frequency the miner can provide the users with the initially promised hashrate. In order to get the new 1.35 MHS hashrate advertised you need to go to 328 MHz as a clock frequency and we were able to get that with no problems. At 300 MHz (1.2 MHS) we have measured 44W of power usage and at 328 MHz (1.35 MHS) the power usage was 48W and in both cases we had the device pretty cool and working stable, though the HW error level was staying a bit high at about 5% in overall on the long run. The power supply you get with the miner is a 60W one (5A at 12V) and is an universal one capable of working between 100 and 240V. It is probably not the most power efficient solution and it does get hot while the device is running, though not hot enough to cause alarms at least for the first 24 hours of operation while we were testing it. We are going to test power efficiency with a better ATX power supply to see if we can get better power usage out of these miners, as well as do some extra testing and measuring of the temperature and optimal clock settings, but we’ll need some more time for these, so expect extra information in the next few days.

zeusminer-blizzard-poolside-results

Here is the situation with hashrate poolside with the miner running at 300 MHz (1.2 MHS), as you can see it is able to deliver the promised hashrate even with the slightly higher percentage of HW errors. Do note that a small percentage of HW errors are common for ASIC miners, you just need to find the optimal balance between the hashrate and the number of HW errors in order to maximize the useable hashrate. Do note that the above results were achieved at the Scryptguild pool mining for DOGE (a coin with higher difficulty and blocks that take some time to solve). If you are mining a Scrypt coin that has block that are solved very fast your actual hashrate may be lower as you might be wasting more time and resources and getting more stale shares, so your actual hashrate can vary based on where, what and how you mine with the device.

So what are our first impressions from the ZeusMiner Blizzard in short? We like this little miner, it is well built, easy to setup and works very stable and problem free so far. The initial price might not be that great, but the new price is much more attractive, especially considering the fact that the actual power usage is higher than what was initially expected. Fast delivery and very well packaged, though a bit expensive and needing to pay VAT and some extra custom taxes if ordered directly form Zeus and shipped from China. What Zeus needs to work a bit more on are the little details to make their products perfect in the eyes of the customers – things like a quick start manual in the box, the right power cable for the country the device is shipped to, rubber feet on the bottom of the miner etc. The small ZeusMiner Blizzard miners, also available by GAWMiners as The Fury, are great choice for the average miner that does want to be able to mine Scrypt crypto coins, but not with a GPU. These miners are an affordable and not so powerful Scrypt ASIC that can help spread the hashrate into many normal miners that were using GPUs for mining Scrypt crypto coins up until recently and help keeping the interest and the network distributed among many people. As with the upcoming mega powerful Scrypt ASIC miners there is fear that most of the hashrate will be centralized and in the hands of just a few big mining farms and this will kill the wide user interest.

For more information about the ZeusMiner Blizzard and the current prices directly from Zeus…



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7 Responses to First Impressions from the ZeusMiner Blizzard Scrypt ASIC

aslacker

June 12th, 2014 at 03:26

Having 10 units pushing 13.5 MH/s, I am happy with them with a slight wince on the “small details” which may add up to a quality control. For an example, some of the Blizzards have locking washers over the fan shroud mounting. Some do not. It looks as though the assembly was not consistent and there were some shortcuts by the assemblers. This may be nothing, but it makes me wonder what other steps may have been skipped due to a rush.

The power supplies do get hot. Very hot to the touch. Nothing burnt up, but concerning. I will probably order PC PSU to barrel connectors adapters.

Overall, a pleasant experience versus BFL, which is reporting a board heat issue with their Monarch. For a purchase in U.S., look into GAWMiners. The same product by a U.S. seller with free shipping. I got the miners at both not knowing they were the same product.

aslacker

June 12th, 2014 at 03:31

I replaced the bolts, with threaded rods (#8-32 x 12″) and have three stacked with space in between. Home Depot only had #8-32, but Lowes has #6-32, which may work with current washers and nuts, saving a few dollar.

admin

June 12th, 2014 at 10:28

A very interesting update that just came form Zeus regarding everyone that has made a Batch 1 order:

“ZeusMiners will return $$$ in the form of store credit to all existing batch one customers!

– LIGHTNING CUSTOMERS will get back $2000
– THUNDER CUSTOMERS will get back $1200
– CYCLONE CUSTOMERS will get back $700
– BLIZZARD CUSTOMERS will get back $55

(This gratitude payment will be sent as store credit to your account within the next 24 hours and applies to all existing batch 1 customers. This is a one-off stackable store credit which can be used for batch 2 purchases and cannot be refunded in cash or crypto currencies. Store credit can only be applied when order amount is more than total store credit used.)

CREDITS ALSO APPLY TO ALL BATCH 1 ORDERS WHICH YOU HAVE PLACED WITH ALL OF OUR CURRENT DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS”

admin

June 12th, 2014 at 13:54

We have already got out $55 USD coupon code available and have used it to order a new ZeusMiner Blizzard, the code pretty much covered the shipping cost and with the new prices of the miner it was a good deal.

jminer

June 25th, 2014 at 09:00

I actually had a problem with a high stale rate. I heard about the problem elsewhere on the net and thought it might just be the Blizzard. On a few of the pools I tried, I was getting a stale rate as high as 20%. The only pool that had a really low stale rate was coinrelay. There I was getting about 0.5%. For the past couple hours I’ve been mining there with my Blizzard and haven’t had a single stale share.

admin

June 25th, 2014 at 09:23

jminer, high worker difficulty could be a reason for more stale shares and a pool with vardiff going quickly to let us say 512. Using 64 or 128 as a worker difficulty at the pool should normally produce a low number of stales…

minerbubs

July 15th, 2014 at 00:29

What operating system did you guys use? I’m on Ubuntu and having a hell of a time getting it working. I’m using the cgminer from the Zeusminer website. I tried -S /dev/ttyUSB12, no luck, but I’m not actually sure how to refer to ports on Ubuntu.

I may set it up on my Windows box just to see how it goes, but long term I’ve gotta get it working on Ubuntu, and there are precious few guides out there for it.

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