As the actual release of their ASIC line grows nearer, the one thing you can’t really say of Butterfly Labs is that they don’t know how to tease an audience. Every time the chatter on the forums, IRC, reddit and elsewhere dies down, they let fly with another little tidbit of information or a product render. I’ve also spent quite a lot of time chatting with Sonny Vleisides after our prior interview. Not too much about BFL itself, mind you – we do talk shop a bit, and he lets things slip from time to time that aren’t quite ready for prime time. I think he knows I respect “off the record” chat a great deal and desperately wants to share all of the awesome with someone else but can’t. I suppose that’s the downside to this attempt at legitimate journalism: if someone wants to chat off-record the most I can do is plug my ears and say no – not that I ever would. But you’re not here for any of that, you’re here for the renders I promised, so without further ado…
Anyone who’s seen a current-gen FPGA single shouldn’t be surprised by the straightforward pipes-and-fins heatsink of course, nor should anyone be taken aback by the presence of a standard 92mm fan and cowling. What is interesting, however, is that many of the parts have been rendered in significantly higher detail than in the board renderings – kind of a necessity when allowing for clearance in your heatsink design. All in all, this looks a great deal like the product they already offer, with the FPGAs swapped out for ASICs… But wait, there’s more.
BFL has also released this preliminary render of a water-block design, likely for use in the mini-rig but Sonny hints that they might be available for other units, depending on a cadre of factors. He even hints that the units could be pushed beyond their release limitations but that “the water block may be needed” – no surprise to anyone, heat is a limiting factor in the speeds these things will be capable of at release. So not only is there the possibility that you could get a randomly high quality chip that can push faster speeds at lower temps with potential unlocks or firmware upgrades (similar to the alternate bitstreams available in their FPGA lineup) there’s the possibility that those willing to hook up a pump and radiator could push out even more hashes – as always, to the hardcore go the spoils. BFL says that the water block is only in consideration to ship with mini-rigs for the time and even that depends on a few factors but they are designed to be one size fits all, so who knows what the future holds.
Oh and I’d be more than happy to release any new data the other manufacturers have about their upcoming ASIC lines too – just, y’know, I don’t really know any of those folks yet. If you’ve got something for me or know someone who does, shoot me a message on the forums some time.
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