Hack A Day - FPGA bitcoin mining
A post on Hack A Day features the first commercially available FGPA Bitcoin mining hardware. Excerpts:
The board requires only 6.8 watts for 100 Mhashes/second, but [li_gangyi]‘s blog says the team expects to hit 150-200 Mhashes with some improvements.
Only four of these boards were built and the supply has already sold out. Deposits are being accepted at Cablesaurus towards pre-orders for the second generation model. The second generation units are priced at $420 (single FGPA) to $620 (dual FPGA) but those prices will likely be lowered before purchase due to volume discounts. The number of boards produced will be determined by how many deposits (paid in either bitcoins or USDs) are made.
This board differs from the modular FPGA hardware project but runs the same open source FGPA miner that was released in May.
FPGA hardware is more expensive for mining Bitcoin than the hashing equivalent when GPU graphics cards are used but power consumption for FPGA mining can be nearly an order of magnitude less. At current exchange rates and difficulty levels, the dual-FGPA board will produce just under 0.12 BTC per day, which is worth about $1.22 USD. Calculated using the typical U.S. residential rate the cost of electricity to run the two FPGAs for a day is under $0.04 USD, or about 3% of revenue. For comparison, when GPU graphics cards are used for mining in regions where electric rates are high the cost of electricity can exceed half the miner’s revenue.
Though mining profitabilty is near all-time lows, these levels are still high enough that FGPAs are not yet price competitive due to the higher hardware costs involved. At the same time, this board just brought FPGA mining one step closer to becoming a significant competitor to GPU mining. Those likely to be the early adopters will be those hitting total power consumption limits, those running out of space and those unable to sufficiently remove the heat produced when mining with GPUs.