All About BTC, LTC, ETH mining as well as other alternative crypto currencies
Zeus has come up with an interesting new upgrade program for the owners of their ZeusMiner Scrypt ASIC miners that is supposed to allow users to make their current miners more up to date and profitable again at the end of the year. If you have purchased a previous generation ZeusMiner you are able to pre-order ZEUS GEN III chip Blades that you can use to replace your existing boards and make the miner much more powerful in terms of hashrate while fitting in the same power usage limit as your current hardware. You are going to essentially use the cases and cooling radiators and fans of your existing hardware and only replace the chip boards with the same modules that the recently announced ZeusMiner Volcano will be using.
The prices for the upgrade boards are quite attractive at the moment and they should not be very expensive to ship, because you will not be getting a whole miner with the big size and weight due to the case and cooling. ZeusMiner distributors such as MinerEU are also accepting pre-orders for the Generation 3 upgrade boards as well as the Volcano Scrypt ASIC. What you should know however is that these upgrade boards should be available and start shipping sometime by the end of December. If Zeus manages to keep their promise on the specifications they have announced the upgrade boards will most likely be a great way to revive your Scrypt ASIC as it may be a bit outdated in terms of performance by the end of the year. So while pre-orders could be risky, at this point of time the upgrade offer from Zeus does seem quite attractive to owners of ZeusMiner Scrypt ASIC devices.
We have been testing the 27 MHS GAWMiners Falcon Scrypt ASIC Miner, the unbranded version, which is essentially the same as the first batch of ZeusMiner Thunder X3. The later batches have been branded with red GAWMiners cases and have some fixes and improvements from the initial design, addressing most of the small details that needed fixing from the first batch. Things like optimized the case and cooling, providing space for integrated power supply and so on are now available in the new design, so we are not going to be talking much about the small flaws in the first batch as they have apparently been resolved in the new and improved batches.
GAW ships their Falcon Scrypt ASIC miners bundled with a ZenController by ZenMiner, essentially a Raspberry Pi with an image designed to provide support for the miner and offer cloud-based control of the device directly through a web site. This makes it easier to monitor and control your miner remotely without having to have direct access to the IP of the miner, be on the same network, or use remote connections etc. A convenient way to get started without having to rely on a PC to connect and control the miner, though the Falcon does have a USB port and you can use it with a direct connection to a computer as well. If you are not happy with the ZenOS there is also the option to use a different RPi image with support for the Zeus ASIC chips, there are already a few alternatives available.
The cooling of the Falcon miner is done with two 120mm fans (HFD12038M12BL), the larger type that are 38mm and not 25mm and these are quite powerful and not so silent. But that is to be expected considering the power consumption of the miner, and is something that pretty much all big ASIC miners that provide a lot of hashpower have in common. Unfortunately we could not find details about the specifications of the fans used, but in general it is not a good idea to try to replace these fans with ones that are more silent as that may lead to not so good cooling efficiency and the device overheating. The cooling of the miner is designed in a way that the fans are pulling the air from inside the case and the airflow goes through the large heatsinks, an effective solution from our tests, though the chips still do get quite hot.
Here is a look at the noise level of the miner running, measured at 1 meter distance from the device – almost 68 dBA. Not very silent, but we have seen other big miners that have been even noisier than that. What is clear however is that you will not be willing to put this miner in your living room or bedroom for 24/7 mining as the noise level is not suitable for that, you would want to use the miner in a room where the noise is not an issue and the air circulation is good.
Looking at the specifications of the Falcon Scrypt ASIC miner you can see that the power consumption on GAW’s website is 1040W, so apparently a good quality 1000W power supply is recommended to be used with the device. We did measure the power usage of our unit and you can see the results above, but generally speaking a 1000W 80 Plus rated ATX PSU is a good idea to be used. Our test has shown that the actual power usage of the miner is about 916W. The fact that we are using a more powerful 80 Plus Platinum power supply gives us very high efficiency of over 94% at this serious load, so the total power consumed at the wall is roughly 970-975W.
Inside the Falcon miner you can find 4 boards with 32 Zeus Scrypt ASIC chips on each. These are attached to large aluminum heatsinks, though the contact point is not the top of the chips, but instead the back of the PCB. This is the easier approach that many ASIC miners use, especially if you have boards with a lot of smaller chips on them, while if you have fewer larger chips they usually have a heatsink on top of the chip. This cooling design does work well, though often with the back contact point the operating temperature of the chips is higher, but apparently no problem for the 55nm Zeus chips.
We did take some images with a thermal camera of the Falcon miner in order to have a better idea on the cooling efficiency of the device. On the outside the Falcon is pretty cool with the hottest areas barely getting up to about 42 degrees Celsius, so the cooling method used is doing very well.
We’ve opened the case of the miner to take some thermal images of the inside, and as you can see on the left image, the four big aluminum heatsinks remain very cool at about 30-35 degrees Celsius while the fans are pulling a lot of air though them. Looking at the boards with the ASIC chips they do seem a bit hotter as to be expected, the chips are pretty hot as the design of the miner uses the back of the PCB to transfer the heat to the heatsinks as we’ve already mentioned. Temperatures of about 60-70 degrees Celsius are apparently something that is not a problem for them, though you should be careful not to get the temperatures much higher like for example leaving the miner to work with an open case for some time. The power modules of the boards do seem cooler than the ASIC chips, though they do get a bit hot as well.
Time to talk a bit about the performance you can get from the 27 MHS Falcon Scrypt ASIC. These miners are rated at 27 MHS or more from GAWMiners and they do manage to deliver even slightly higher average performance when you run them at the recommended operating frequency of 328 MHz. The minimum average hashrate we got at the LTC Rabbit mining pool for a period of 24 hours was 25674 KHS and the maximum was 29332 KHS with an average across the whole day of 27882 KHS. Trying out the Scrypt ASIC miner at the ScryptGuild mining multipool where you mine altcoins and get payments directly in BTC has shown us very similar performance – the average hashrate poolside was about 27738 KHS.
Looking at the locally reported hashrate when running the cgminer 3.1.1 with ZeusMiner support also shows an average performance of 27.5 MHS as well, looking at the reported WU number that is recommended to be used for judging the actual local hashrate.
So we can conclude that the 27 MHS GAWMiners Falcon Scrypt ASIC miner is really delivering what is being promised and the power rating, although a bit high, is also true as claimed (actual power usage is a bit lower with a good quality PSU). The unbranded Falcon miner from GAW did have some small design flaws that we have noticed, but we’ve seen pretty much all of them being addressed in the newer design that the branded Falcons (with red cases) use. What still seems to be missing though are the rubber feet on the bottom of the case, but you can easily add these yourself, so not much of a problem anyway. With the current price of $1929.95 USD for the latest batch the Falcon does look quite attractive with the performance it offers, though do not forget that you will also need a 1 KW ATX power supply as the miner does not come with a built-in one, so that is some extra cost if you don not have the PSU already. The Falcon using the Zeus 55nm chips at the current prices is an attractive choice as the main competition, currently also shipping hardware, that uses 28nm Innosilicon A2 chips with lower power consumption is about twice as expensive in terms of price for the same hashrate.
By default most ZeusMiner Scrypt ASICs do come prepared for direct connection to a PC over a USB cable and for use with the supplied cgminer version with support for Zeus chips. There is however an option to use these miners, smaller or larger, with a Raspberry Pi controller and make them PC independent. In fact some of the companies selling these Scrypt ASICs do offer an option to buy a separate Raspberry Pi controller for the ZeusMiner-based products or even do bundle one with a custom image that supports them – either basic solution with console only monitoring or with a nice and feature rich web-based interface. We have tried to compile a list of who offers what to help you start up with using Raspberry Pi controller for your ZeusMiner ASIC devices. Apart from Zeus directly and their official distributors, there is also GAWMiners with their own branded miners and HASHRA as well selling products that are also based on ZeusMiner Scrypt ASIC chips.
ZeusMiner offers an official Raspberry Pi image for their miners, however it seems to be a very basic one with console only support as well as a slightly more advanced ZeusController image offering a basic web interface. So a good start up point if you want to try out what is available as options.
MinerEU has just released a Scripta based Raspberry Pi image with some additional extras such as pool priority, pool switch on the fly from web UI as well as cgminer options that can be specified in key/value pair directly from the web browser. Scripta is probably the most feature rich web-based RPi solution, so if you like to have more options and control directly from the web interface you should try this image.
HASHRA has updated their own Hashra Controla RPi image with web-based interface to support the new custom branded Zeus-based products they are currently offering to their customers. This image is a bit simpler in terms of features if you compare it to a Scripta-based image for example, but still works very well and gives you easy access to all the important settings and information.
GAWMiners has partnered with ZenMiner and offers Raspberry Pi with preinstalled ZenController as an option to buy along and also bundled with some of the bigger Zeus-based miners. This is a quite interesting solution as it provides you with an easy to use and very convenient web-based control panel for your miners from anywhere in the world. No need to use a real IP address or be on the same local network as your miner or have to use remote connections etc. It is the type of solution that you just need to plug in and it should start working automatically, so great for people that are not way too technical to deal with possible configuration issues.
There could be other RPi images for ZeusMiner available out there, but we might have missed some of them, so if you know about something missing in this list feel free to point us to it and we’ll include it.