Archive for the ‘Mining Hardware’ Category


PinIdea is the second company to release X11 ASIC miners and apart from their large DR-1 miners that apparently had some issues with shipping they are ready to start shipping smaller X11 USB ASIC miners in a few days. PinIdea X11 USB ASIC Miner DU-1 is supposed to offer about 9 MHS X11 mining hashrate with about 7 Watts of power usage (1.4A at 5V), so you will need to use these with powered USB hubs capable of 2A per port to have some extra headroom. The price of the X11 USB miner DU-1 is set at 9 DASH or about $65 USD with the current exchange rate of DASH/USD (the price should include shipping cost) with shipping scheduled to start on May 24th.

The small X11 USB ASIC miners should help provide the decentralization that X11 crypto coins need after the first large ASIC miners hit the market with a lot of hashpower in the hands of a few users. Not to mention that many people will probably get these miners just for fun and not considering ROI time and such as even though they are not that much powerful, they are still something fun to play with if crypto mining is your hobby.

We have actually pre-ordered the large PinIdea DR-1 X11 ASIC miner a while ago as we wanted to review it as we did with the iBeLink X11 ASIC miner, but due to the issues the company had with shipping and miners arriving damaged we got a refund until they resolved the issue. Meanwhile PinIdea has already announced a new X11 ASIC miner called DR-2 that will be a redesigned and improved DR-1 offering 600 MHS of hashrate at 335W of power usage in a smaller and more silent enclosure. The catch is that the new miner will be available in August and that is quite some time from now and we are probably going to wait for this one to get it for a detailed review.

To get some more details about the upcoming X11 ASIC miners from PinIdea…


THe first X11 ASIC miner on the market was iBeLink DM384M that was released about a month and a half ago in a limited 50 units first batch and we were lucky enough to purchase one of the first units available from Dual Miner. We have since tested and played quite a lot with the device and we have since shared a lot of things we like about the device and some that we don’t. With opening pre-orders for the next batch it is time to share a few more things that we do not like about the iBeLink DM384M, so that people that might be considering to order the device be well aware what to expect from it. The next batch that is up from pre-order is expected to start shipping by the end of next month, so a lot can happen before the devices start shipping including a competing product becoming available for order without so much waiting time.


But lets get back to the iBeLink DM384M X11 ASIC miner and what we don’t like and should have happened in the timeframe of about a month and a half since the first batch of devices started shipping. On the software side, still no source code of the cgminer is available for users to modify and integrate in sgminer, bfgminer or another software miner or even compile for Windows or other operating systems. The fork of cgminer available is only in a binary form for Raspberry Pi and even the binary is not usable for custom setups as it apparently has built in protections that don’t allow you to use it in other environment than the one you get it preinstalled on (the RPi shipped with the miner). You can get inside the Linux shell on the Raspberry Pi controller of the miner and try to add another root account or change the password for an existing user, but you will not get very far. Thanks to the built-in protections in the cgminer it will refuse to run if any modifications in the environment such as changed passwords or new users are detected and so far iBelink has not released the password for the device so you cannot ssh to it using an existing user. So the only thing left is apparently for somebody to brute force the password of the device as iBeLink simply does not give us another option.

Still on the software side, there has not been a single update to the web-based interface that is available for the user to control and monitor the device and that software does need some fixing and new features. The numbers you get reported are a bit weird and confusing, so you might have trouble getting a good idea on the status of the hardware other than if it works and how well it works – you will have to monitor poolside for the real performance. But that is not the big issue, there are features that are simply needed and not available and apparently will not be introduced such as password protection for the web interface or load balancing pool strategy to help you spread the high hashrate among lower difficulty coins for example. This might not have been that bad if if users had the access to the divide that would allow them to modify the software themselves and add features that they may need, unfortunately iBeLink locked this option out. We have already seem modified and improved firmware for various ASIC miners made by users that add missing features or improve the performance and reliability of the hardware, but for the moment we are not going to be seeing this happening for the iBeLink DM384M X11 ASIC.


Enough with the software, let us get started about the hardware and what to expect on that side from the iBeLink DM384M X11 ASIC. Solid build, adequate performance as per the official specifications, but noisy and at a level that simply makes it not suitable for use by home miners. Server grade chassis, cooling fans and even power supply ensure long term reliability unless you put it in a very hot environment where you might have trouble with any other hardware anyway. If you are considering to modify the miner to make it quieter and usable for home miners that do not want the excessive noise from the cooling solution, then you will have some more trouble. Half of the noise of the device is coming from the power supply and you will be having trouble replacing it with a standard ATX PSU that is much more silent. The reason for that is the non-standard power connectors used by the blades with the chips that the power supply uses, a 12-pin power connector that may be found on some other server products, but not with the same pinout. Apart from the 12V yellow cables and the black ground cables you have a single 3.3V orange cable on every connector, so you would need to do some modifications to the regular power supply to make it compatible. Or you can just desolder the cooling fan of the standard power supply and add in quieter fans to keep it cool, but that would limit you with the length of the power cables as they are designed to be long enough for the standard chassis of the device. Adding enough less noisy, but still powerful enough fans to each of the blades can provide enough cooling and much less noise when compared to the standard cooling setup, but you will need to take the blades out of the standard chassis.

So be prepared and know what to expect from the iBeLink DM384M X11 ASIC miner should you consider ordering one or more units. One more last thing before making the final decision, the X11 profitability at the moment is not what it was when the first batch was shipped and there is a chance that it may go even lower once more hardware is available. Unlike the last time when new ASICs were introduced for Litecoin and Scrypt-based crypto currencies, X11 is not that widespread and there are not a lot of strong coins apart from DASH, not even that many X11 altcoins like it was with Scrypt ones. With a limited number of X11 ASIC miners, all big and powerful units, and with GPU miners moving from X11 to other algorithms a centralization of X11 hashrate may as well become a serious problem that can drive away users. But enough with the pessimism, time to get optimistic, as we are probably soon going to be seeing more X11 competition on the market including smaller single chip USB miners to help decentralize things and get X11 ASIC hardware in the hands of many more people.


After our not so successful experiments in trying to use immersion cooling with mineral oil for the KnCMiner Titan Scrypt ASIC we have moved to trying out different things to make the device run cooler and silent. The obvious next step would be to use water cooling and the options for this are many, so we have decided to start by trying with a pre-filled closed loop All-In-One solution that is ready to be installed just to test out things. We were pleasantly surprised that KNC has decided to use standard mounting holes for 115x Intel sockets on the PCB of the device, so the installation for a water cooling solution designed to support these sockets should not be a problem. The water cooler should be capable of dissipating about 300 Watts of power coming from the Titan ASIC chip (actually four chips in a single package). We have opted out to start with a Silverstone Tundra TD02-SLIM AIO water cooler – dual 120mm slim radiator with two silent slim fans and the results we got with it cooling the ASIC were very good. Using a larger radiator and slightly more powerful fans can help you get even better results temperature wise and still have silent operation, even thicker single 120/140mm radiators could be able to handle things well enough.


Whatever water cooling solution you go for you need to make sure that the top of the water cooling block is clear, so hat you can place a cooling fan on top of it. The actual problem with the Titan Scrypt ASICs is not the main chip(s), but the DCDC power modules that provide the ASIC with the needed power. The design that KNC has chosen makes it hard to cool them properly and their solution that uses very thick thermal pads is not great either. So if going for water cooling installing the water block is the easy part, keeping the power modules cool is the hard one. In fact you can cool them by just placing a powerful 120/140mm fan on top of the whole thing to blow cold air directly over them…


Our test with a 140mm Noctua NF-A14 iPPC-3000 PWM fan for cooling the DCDC power modules proved a success in keeping acceptable temperatures, but not in keeping the device silent. The idea to use water cooling instead of the standard water cooling is to make it run cooler and more silent. So the solution would be to do a custom set of heatsinks to fit on the DCDC power modules and have a silent fan blowing on top of them in order to make the cooling efficient and silent enough. Reusing the stock air cooling plate wit the thick thermal pads that the miner comes with will not do well, but it can give you some ideas, just make sure you use thin thermal pads or a thin layer of thermal grease. The end result will be totally worth it in making the KNC Titan run silent and effective especially for home miners with the summer heat not too far away.