With the recent press activity surrounding Bitcoin ASIC miners I thought it time for an article explaining what they were and what might soon to be available. I say might because as so far as I can tell even the supposed suppliers of these ASIC devices have not seen a single “retail ready” unit.
First, a word about ASIC. ASIC stands for Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. I realise that's quite a mouthful to say and sounds quite exotic but they are more common than you might think, chances are that from where you are sitting you can touch two or three devices containing ASIC’s. In fact if you look under your right hand right now (or left if you are a lefty) your mouse almost certainly contains one or more.
ASCI’s are chips designed to do one thing and one thing only, but they do that particular task very well. When it come to talking about bitcoin up until now (or more precisely shortly from now) people have mined with general purpose processors designed to do other tasks such as the CPU and GPU in your computer, while they can mine for bitcoins that is not what they were designed to do. FPGA devices, or Field Programmable Gate Array devices have also been used to mine bitcoins and while they are far superior to CPU’s and GPU’s they are still general purpose devices that have had the bitcoin mining software "programmed" into them.
ASCI’s bitcoin miners on the other hand are built ground up and fully optimised to do those complicated SHA256 computations at rates that totally obsoletes any mining technology seen to date at a fraction of the running cost.
While the cost for each individual ASIC is also quite low, sometimes even measured in cents for large orders of hundreds of thousands of individual units the cost to design, prototype and manufacture a single ASIC is measured in the millions so while the cost to the manufacturer for an individual unit may be low they still need to recoup those millions.
So, now onto what is being offered. The criteria to get onto this list was quite simple, if I could find a pre-order form for the device it made the list. The information that is available for each offering is quite sparse so I chose to only include the name, price, GH/s (1,000,000,000 Hash's per second) and how many GH/s each of your dollar buys, feel free to use the links provided to find out more information directly from the supplier.
Bitcoin ASIC Mining Hardware
(Listed in alphabetical order)
|Name||GH/s||Dollar per GH/s|
|Name||GH/s||Price (USD)||Dollar per GH/s|
|[bASIC 36 GH/s](https://www.bitcoinasic.net/)||36||\$599.99||\$16.67|
|[bASIC 72 GH/s](https://www.bitcoinasic.net/)||72||\$1,069.99||\$14.86|
|[BitForce Little Single](http://www.butterflylabs.com/)||30||\$649.00||\$21.63|
|[BitForce Mini Rig](http://www.butterflylabs.com/)||1,500||\$29,899.00||\$19.93|
As you can see there is something to fit just about any budget from the hardcore enterprise miner all the way down to the hobbyist.
It is also very important to note again, none of these devices are available yet. You are able to pre order them though but do so at your own risk.
Disclaimer: I have absolutely no relationship with any of the ASIC companies mentioned in this article, I neither recommend or recommend against any particular vendor or device.
Authors Note: Since I run mining equipment for my clients there may be a conflict of interest here, I have tried to keep this as impartial as possible though, judge for yourself.
Update: transisto over on Reddit points out that organofcorti has also written two articles on ASIC choices as well, I have read them and they are very good. They are a bit more technical than I try to present, but if you don't mind they are well worth the read.