All About BItcoin and Litecoin mining and other alternative crypto currencies
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
It seems that Gridseed might be working on a new even larger Scrypt ASIC miner, or that is what got as information from a reader that sent a link to publication on a new mining forum called MinerTalk. From the apparently leaked photos of the new miner published there we can see that it is a larger box miner with integrated PSU and a LAN network interface. There are still no specifications available and no information what ASIC chips will the device use.
The miner seems to have 5 PCBs or modules with chips inside and there are only three small fans. On the second photo we can see that the chips on the modules are small, similar to the Gridseed GC3355 ones, though these might be new chips as well. Judging from the size of the chips and the miner we can assume that the miner should be capable of something like 25 MHS or 50 MHS even more in terms of hashrate (5-10 MHS per module). Though there is no information about actual specifications, so these are only assumptions for the moment.
Today we got a 27 MHS GAWMiners Falcon Scrypt ASIC Miner based on the 55 nm Zeus Scrypt ASIC chips and we have just finished setting up the device and started testing it. Our initial impressions are quite good so far and once we play a bit more with the device we are going to share all of them with you, so expect a lot more details in the next few days as we continue to test the Scrypt ASIC miner. Aside from the 27 MHS Falcon, GAWMiners also has both a faster model – the 54 MHS War Machine, as well as slower and more affordable models such as the 13 MHS Black Widow and the smallest 1.3 MHS Fury. In fact the Fury is currently probably the most affordable small Scrypt ASIC miner in production, along with the Zeus Blizzard, now that Gridseed has stopped producing their 5-chip GC3355-based miners.
We do need smaller and affordable Scrypt ASIC miners in order for them to be accessible to normal miners that want to mine DOGE for example with no resources to buy a 10K USD Scrypt ASIC miner like the big mining farms can. While the initial price of the 1 MHS+ Scrypt ASICs was not the best at about $200 USD, their latest price is much more reasonable and affordable at $139.95 USD and can get even better if you buy multiple units. This should allow the Scrypt hashing power to remain distributed among many people and not get centralized in the hands of just few big mining farms, otherwise there is a high risk of more and more people going away from Scrypt crypto currencies and moving to other alternatives.
Now back to testing the Falcon. Meanwhile, if you have some questions about the miner we are already prepared to answer them.