Archive for the ‘Mining Hardware’ Category


Silver Fish is a Chinese company making Scrypt ASIC miners based on 55nm Scrypt ASIC chips that they have apparently developed in-house called SF300K01 – 55nm chips with lower power consumption and rated at 625 KHS at 7W per chip. The main target for their Srypt ASIC miners available in the smaller Blade version we tested and the bigger 70 MHS models that Silver Fish makes is the Chinese market as they do not even have an English version of their official website. Their Scrypt ASIC miners, especially the smaller 25-28 MHS Silver Fish Blade miner, are already finding their way in other parts of the world and that is precisely why we have decided to get a unit and review it. It is certainly an interesting product with some specifics that you can also consider as disadvantages if you compare to what we have used with traditional ASIC devices, but they are not necessarily such. In fact the approach that Silver Fish has taken into their products is quite interesting even though it might be considered somewhat limiting the user.


The Silver Fish Blade consists of two independent PCBs, each with 20 SF300K01 Scyrpt ASIC chips grouped in blocks of 4 with independent power blocks. So the whole Blade miner has 40 chips for a total hashrate of about 25-28 MHS for mining Scrypt crypto currencies such as Litecoin. The device is cooled by a single large 120mm Delta fan that is quite noisy, even though it apparently should be controlled through a PWM from the device based on the reported temperature from the available onboard sensors. The reason for the high noise level is probably a direct result from the open design of the device that certainly is not optimal for proper cooling with lower RPM of the fan, though apparently the device does manage to keep things in normal operating temperatures even this way.


Notice that each of the PCBs is completely independent and has a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector as well as two LAN ports. The advertised power usage at wall for about 28 MHS performance is 470 Watts, meaning that each PCB needs about 235W, but we’ll get to the actual power usage in a bit. The LAN connectors on the back are used to connect the two PCBs together and you only need one cable to go to a computer or a network appliance in order for your device to be accessible from the mining software. According to Silver Fish this approach for connection allows for up to 100 PCBs to be connected together with a single connection to your network, so apparently these miners have been designed to be used and deployed in larger mining farms and nor for small home-based miners.


The software that is used to control and mine Scrypt with the Silver Fish Blade miners is only Windows-based and needs to be run on a PC that is connected on the same network that the Scrypt ASIC miner is connected in. The software should be able to automatically find the miners in the network and start mining with the pools you have set to be used, so it is pretty straight forward thing to do. Unfortunately the latest version of the software R3.04 is still not available in English, though you should be able to use the previous SFMiner 2.1 English just fine, even though the configuration utility inside it is not translated in English.


A quick look on the actual power usage of the Silver Fish Blade miner supposedly running at 28 MHS with a 1200W power supply attached to the miner. Apparently the actual power consumption is is around 430W and thanks to the fact that we are using a good power supply at its sweet spot in terms of efficiency (about 99%) the power usage at the wall is just slightly higher. With a not so good power supply you can probably expect to get close to the 470W advertised as actual power usage at the wall. With this power usage the Silver Fish Blade is probably the most power efficient 55nm-based Scrypt ASIC miner currently available on the market, beating even the new lower power usage ZeusMiner models.


We’ve already mentioned that we do not like that much the open design of the Silver Fish Blade miner, even though apparently it has no problems with keeping the things in acceptable temperature levels. As you can see from the thermal images we’ve captured of the miner in action the temperature level increases as we get further away from the cooling fan and the temperature difference can be higher than about 10 degrees between the two ends of the PCBs. If you want to improve things with the cooling you can easily create a case for the miner with handy material in order to improve the airflow and thus the cooling efficiency of the device. What we could not find a way to do is to overclock the miner to see if we can squeeze some more performance without significant increase in power usage.


Time to see what is the performance we are getting with the Silver Fish Blade Scrypt ASIC miner, officially the manufacturer rates these at 25 MHS (40 x 625 KHS), but the unit we got was actually rated at 28 MHS, so apparently slightly overclocked. We have tested the poolside performance at the LTC Rabbit Scrypt mining pool as it has recently opened new fixed difficulty ports for Scrypt ASIC miners. The results we’ve got have shown hashrate peaking at a bit over 28 MHS and with an average of about 27.4 MHS, pretty similar to what the software used for control and mining also reports in terms of performance. Trying out with other Scrypt mining pools such as CoinKing for example has shown us pretty similar results, or you can expect an average hashrate of a bit less than 28 MHs.

So what is our conclusion about the Silver Fish Blade Scrypt ASIC miner? There are some things that we did not like such as the open case design and not so efficient and nosier cooling or the availability only of Windows-based software that is not completely translated in English. As well as some things that we liked, such as the compact size, the lower power usage and the network connectivity that allows for easy scalability. Good performance and stable operation, combined with lower power usage than competing 55nm-based alternatives makes this an interesting option if you manage to get a good deal in terms of price. If you manage to find these at sub $900-1000 USD price they may still be a good investment, even though with the current network difficulty and price of LTC you should still consider carefully.


Earlier this month ZeusMiner has announced their next generation of Scrypt ASIC miners (X6) that are supposed to use less power than the previously available X3 miners. Thanks to MinerEU, an official ZeusMiner partner, today we have received three out of the four new X6 miners and have decided to share our first impressions with more to follow in the next few days along with detailed reviews of the Zeus Lightning X6, Zeus Thunder X6 and the Zeus Hurricane X6 with a Zeus Blizzard X6 still on the way.


If you have been following the development of the ZeusMiner Scrypt ASICs you will probably notice that the new X6 miners are essentially almost the same as the previous generation, just running at lower voltage and operating frequency of the chips in order to use less power and sill provide good hashrate. That, along with new lower prices, actually does make the new ZeusMiner X6 Scrypt ASICs really interesting miners to invest in even with the current market conditions. The new ZeusMiner X6 Scrypt ASIC miners with lowered power usage and prices in fact may offer you one of the quickest return of investment, so if you were considering investing in a Scrypt ASIC, then you should definitely do some profit calculations. Of course nobody can predict the increase in network difficulty or the fluctuations in the price, but if things remain stable you might be looking at less than 2 months to break even if mining Litecoins.


So what is different with the new ZeusMiner X6 Scrypt ASICs? They do come in the same boxes and use the same chips, however the difference is that the chips are now running at lower voltage and operating frequency. The result you get is lower power consumption and still a good hashrate, without pushing the chips close to their limits. We have opened up the new Thunder X6 to see that it is pretty much the same picture as we’ve seen with the previous miners. Each board has the same number of chips, we did notice a sticker that says 1.1V on the board, so this is probably the new operating voltage (down from 1.2-1.3V). There is also one less power mosfet on the board for each of the power blocks, probably removed as a result of the lowered power consumption. This however does mean that you might not be able to play much with overvolting the new units by replacing resistors or at least the headroom for that will not be much.

We could not find an official or recommended operating frequency for the new X6 miners, but we already knew that it will be lower than the sweet spot of about 328 MHz. So we’ve started going down and it seems that the new sweet spots in terms of operating frequencies for the lower power units are somewhere in between 235 and 250 MHz. This is the range where we get hashrate close to what is being advertised and at the same time the HW error level remains low, though we are going to play some more with the frequencies to narrow down what works best with the default setup and with no hardware modifications. So far we are happy with what we are seeing from the new ZeusMiner X6 Scrypt ASICs and you can expect more as we continue using and testing the units in the following days.


We’ve decided to do a quick comparison between the different options that you have for around 30 MHS Scrypt ASIC miners that are available on the market at the moment in order to give you an idea on how they compare to each other. We have a GAWMiners Falcon Miner (ZeusMiner Thunder X3), Silver Fish Blade Miner and Innosilicon A2Mini Miner that we have either tested already or are currently testing (detailed reviews of the last two to follow soon). On the photo above you can see the three miners on top of each other, so that you can get a good idea on how they compare in terms of size. Do note that they are all different not only in terms of size, but also in terms of power consumption and completeness, and they also do come with different prices as well.


Here is a table to compare and summarize the three miners that are all averaging about 28 MHS or slightly more in terms of actual hashrate according to their specs and what we have seen so far in our tests. The Falcon is the largest one, essentially a ZeusMiner Thunder X3 from the earlier batches as the newer units do come with a bit different design and Zeus has already announced new miners with lower power consumption, though these are not yet shipping. The A2Mini miner based on Innosilicon A2 chips is the second one in terms of physical size, however this miner differs than the other two with the fact that it contains an integrated power supply and Raspberry Pi controller all built inside the case. The smallest one is the Silver Fish Blade, an interesting open frame solution that is not very widely available and popular outside of China.


All of the miners above have their own advantages and disadvantages, but the price is probably the deciding factor for every miner when considering the return of investment expected. This is especially true now when the Litecoin network difficulty has climbed up to a level that ensures just a bit over 1 LTC per day to be mined with any of these Scrypt ASIC miners. Obviously the A2Mini is the worst choice in terms of price, though we do like the miner a lot as it comes as a complete solution ready to be used out of the box and with the lowest power usage. At the price that it is currently being sold however it is not a wise choice and A2 really does need to update their prices. The Silver Fish blade is also an interesting solution, especially with the lower power usage it offers as compared to ZeusMiner’s alternative, here however we do not like very much the not so effective for cooling open design and the Windows only software miner available for the device along with network only connectivity. The price of the Silver Fish is also quite high compared to Zeus’, and even though the ZeusMiner and the branded products from their partners such as GAW’s Falcon with the highest power consumption it is still the most interesting solution in terms of price. And with the announcement of the new lower power usage products that offer higher hashrate at lower price ZeusMiner is probably the most interesting choice for a Scrypt ASIC miner at the moment as it should be able to offer the fastest ROI at the moment.