All About BItcoin and Litecoin mining and other alternative crypto currencies
With September closing up and many new Scrypt ASIC manufacturers getting ready to start shipping their mining hardware things are heating up with the currently available miners and in order to keep the users interest we need to see new prices. One of the most significant things about the Innosilicon A2 miners, a thing we have noted in our reviews of their products, is that they are pretty expensive or actually were. We know that the company is using 28 nm technology for their chips and thus achieves higher performance with lower power consumption, but up until recently the price of the hardware did not justify the difference in power usage compared to other alternatives available with higher power usage. The good news is that apparently Innosilicon has finally decided to lower the prices by also making available new miners, making them a more attractive option and finally able to compete with ZeusMiner for example price wise for the same or similar hashrate while still offering lower power usage.
The new A2 MINI Terminator is available for $789 USD and offers 35 MHS Scrypt hashrate with a power consumption of about 350W. Unlike the old A2 Mini miner however the new model does not come with built-in power supply, though there is still a Raspberry Pi controller built-in into the miner, so you need to also buy a PSU for this one. The other new miner is the A2 MEGA Terminator currently available for $2499 USD. This miner offers 110 MHS Scrypt hashrate with less than 1100W power usage as the device comes with built in 1100W power supply and a RPi controller like the A2BOX miner that we have already reviewed. With the new A2 miners the price per 1 MHS comes at about $23 USD for a complete solution ready to be used out of the box (adding a PSU for the Mini miner as well). So if you are currently considering making an investment in Scrypt ASIC hardware that is currently available you might want to take a look at the new Innosilicon A2 miners.
Innosilicon still has not made any release of the source code of their cgminer fork with support for the A2 Scrypt ASIC chips, what you get with their A2 Terminator Scrypt ASIC devices is a Raspberry Pi with a preloaded cgminer and simple web interface to control the device. The standard web interface however is a bit limited in the supported operating frequencies – 1000 and 1200 MHz. The recompiled cgminer does allow for a few more operating frequencies to be used, however they are not selectable by default through the web interface of the miner. Some time ago there was a modified image released by a user called Emdje that supposedly allowed more overclock options. However it has turned out that it was not really functional as even though you could select operating frequency at steps of 5 MHz the cgminer did not accept these values and instead defaulted to some of the supported frequencies.
Back when we first had the chance to do a remote test of a A2BOX Scrypt ASIC miner we have discovered that the only supported operating frequencies by the Innosilicon A2 Terminator Scrypt ASIC miners are: 1000, 1080, 1100, 1200, 1280, 1300 and 1400 MHz. This is why we have made a modification to the standard RPi image that ships with the A2 miners, so that you can quickly and easily add the supported frequencies to be selectable from the web interface of the miner. This should allow you to squeeze some more extra performance from your device, regardless if it is the smaller 2 module or the large 6 module ASIC model, as our tests have shown that most of the miners should be able to work pretty well at up to 1280-1300 MHz up from the maximum of 1200 MHz that you have by default. Below you can download the modification we have prepared along with the instructions on how to update your miner, so that you get the extra OC options available.
How to login to your miner via SSH/SFTP using putty/WinSCP:
- username: pi
– password: innosilicon
Where to find the miner and web interface:
Replace the index.php file with the following modification:
– modified index.php
All that is left is to refresh the webpage with the miner interface and you should see the new options for operating frequencies available in the dropdown boxes for the A2 modules. For the smaller miners you need to select just the first two frequencies as you can see on the image above, for the large A2 miners you need to set all of the six frequencies. Do note that each of the modules can operate at a different frequency, so experiment and set the best frequency for each one that gives the lowest HW error rate and optimum performance.
ZeusMiner Blizzard X6 is the smallest of all new lower power usage Scrypt ASIC miners from Zeus, it is the successor of the previous Blizzard units, but unlike the bigger models this one actually has more chips running at lower frequency. The end result is higher hashrate of the new unit as compared to the performance of the older miner that also comes with higher power consumption. The old Blizzard units offered 1.3-1.4 MHS with 6 chips at about 50 Watts of power usage, the new Blizzard X6 uses 24 chips at lower operating voltage and frequency and should provide 4 MHS at 100W. This means almost three times the hashrate with just two times the power usage, so it does not sound like a bad improvement. It is interesting to note that the Blizzard X6 was initially announced at 3.6 MHS and now the official specifications state 4 MHS.
Unlike with the older Blizzard that included a PSU and USB cable in the package, the new ZeusMiner Blizzard X6 does not include these anymore. We have received our unit with just the miner, no micro-USB cable in the package or a power adapter, not even a 4-pin Molex or 6-pin PCI-E adapter for powering the device with an ATX power supply. This left us a bit disappointed, but was probably done to save costs and make the price of the miner lower. We could’ve gone easily without a PSU, but the USB cable and a connector for a computer PSU is something that must be in the package as not everyone will have these already available like we do.
The Blizzard X6 cooling design is not perfect, but apparently it works pretty well delivering enough cooling performance with not so loud level of noise. We have measured the power usage of the new miner to be about 106W with the device running at 235 MHz at the wall and the level of noise from the cooling fans was at just about 45 dBA. Looking at the board with the chips we have noticed that the Blizzard X6 also uses 1.1V voltage and the maximum recommended operating frequency is 248 MHz, though you probably would want to use a lower number to get less HW errors.
Here are two thermal images showing the operating temperature of the ZeusMiner Blizzard X6 during normal operation. The temperatures of the aluminum cooler used to cool the chips is just about 36 degrees at the hottest place, in fact the highest temperature we’ve measured was at the power connector of the device. Initially we’ve powered the miner from a 4-pin molex connector, but that got the cables too hot, so we’ve changed the power source to use a 6-pin PCI-E power connector as an input. So be extra careful what source of power you are going to use as a single 4-pin molex connector might not be able to handle well the ~100W load, preferably use dual molex connectors or a PCI-E one.
We have tested running the ZeusMiner Blizzard X6 at different frequencies and the one that seemed to provide the best results with our unit was 235 MHz, though you may have varying success with lower or higher frequencies, so we do recommend to try going up to about 250 MHz. At 235 MHz operating frequency the Blizzard X6 was able to provide about 3.8-3.9 MHS with about 4.5% of HW errors. We already know that the Zeus Scrypt ASIC miners do actually have higher number of HW errors compared to most other ASIC miners, however we do not like to push our hardware too much and get like 10% of HW errors – something that is easily achievable if you try to push the new X6 miners to about 250 MHz.
A look at the average poolside reported hashrate from the LTC Rabbit Scrypt mining pool using the new fixed difficulty port with 1024 difficulty for Scrypt ASIC miners and the Blizzard X6 running at 235 MHz operating frequency. We’ve seen that the actual pool hashrate has varied between 3686 and 4164 MHS for a 24 hour period of time, but the average should be about the advertised 4 MHS rate.
The ZeusMiner Blizzard X6 Scrypt ASIC miner is not the best choice for investment, especially now with the current low LTC price, at least not for people interested mostly in the fast ROI. In fact the Blizzard X6 is intended for the people that are mining as a hobby or just for fun, it is also a good way to get some experience with Scrypt ASIC mining, if it is something new for you, without having to invest too much into hardware and only focus on the profit. The Blizzard X6 is also a great choice for the modding community, just like the previous version of Blizzard – doing experiments with overvolting and modifying the cooling solution. It is a fun little and affordable Scrypt miner to play with and experiment with, but not something that will get you quick return of investment or even make you profit. So think carefully what you are getting this miner for and should you really invest some cash into it or not, though the same applies for the larger ZeusMiner Scrypt ASICs as well with the current market situation.