Big news from Bitcoin ASIC Builder Butterfly Labs: Their next ASIC will be 28nm and will feature a PCIe form factor that should make former GPU miners pretty happy and other manufacturers at least a little envious.
The card will feature BFL’s second generation of ASIC created with a 28nm process. BFL’s current architecture is built around the 65nm process which refers to the size of a single transistor. Smaller transistors mean higher performance for lower power consumption so it should come as no surprise that a chip with transistors less than half the size packs quite a punch.
The card is slated to run at 600GH/s while consuming a scant 300 watts of electricity, comparable to the power consumption of high-end video cards miners are already using. What’s not comparable to high-end GPUs is the price: the $4,680 price tag may put this out of reach for many miners – at least initially.
Like any new technology, Bitcoin mining ASICs are pretty expensive for the true early adopters but with time and competition prices may eventually reach a point where cards like these are near enough to the price point of a high-end GPU that the old “ASIC == centralization” argument can finally get discarded. Remember, graphics accelerators were a costly new ASIC once too.
While I am a huge fan of BFL’s hardware there are of course areas in which they’ve been traditionally found wanting and there is no word yet on how this will affect currently existing orders. BFL exec Sonny Vleisides informs me that customers still waiting for 65nm ASICs will likely be allowed to switch queues for the newer product. Also, since the 65nm chip is out of the R&D phase and it will be some time before the new 28nm chip enters the assembly and shipping phase it seems unlikely that this new product will have a meaningful effect on the old.
All else aside, I’ve been saying we need a PCIe form factor ASIC for a long time now and I’m very excited to see such a product finally coming to market. As for the big questions (Will it ship on time? Will it eventually come down in price? Will it meet hashrate and power estimates?) Only time will tell.
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