Monday, April 1, 2013

Bitcoin Developer Receives First Butterfly Labs ASIC

Bitcoin developer Luke Dashjr has reported that he received the first Butterfly Labs ASIC to reach the hands of consumers. The device is still far from full capacity, pushing out only 25 GH/s at a power consumption of 180 watts, but this is nevertheless the first definitive proof that Butterfly Labs is producing a legitimate product, and is not too far from finally releasing its first batch.

Butterfly Labs’ Josh Zerlan also recently provided updates on the state of Butterfly Labs’ production in an IRC channel. The core of the conversation is this:

BFL_Josh: Well guys, I had planned on updating everyone with a video of a board hashing here in KC tonight, but I haven’t been able to get that together yet, so I’m probably going to have to push it off until tomorrow. We are targeting a start of shipment next week, but I’m not quite ready to commit to that at the moment, given our past estimates. It’s imminent, though.
Lab_Rat: It hashes????
BFL_Josh: Yes, it hashes

Further down in the conversation, Zerlan provides the main reasons for the current delay. Zerlan writes: “We may miss our power targets, that’s been part of the hold up… we think there’s a problem with the power consumption and we’re trying to figure out where it’s having an issue … What’s causing even more consternation is the fact that the wafer we burned for tests runs at far less power than a second wafer we mounted on the BGA package… so it may be a wafer by wafer thing, and since we only have two datapoints, it’s hard to nail down the issue.” To many in the field, these difficulties are unsurprising; in mid-January, Avalon founder Yifu Guo wrote on the topic “recently they changed it to 1.2W, but they won’t even reach that. We ran 65nm simulations and they should be around 3W.” But to many of Butterfly Labs’ customers, who have now suffered from six months of delays, power consumption does not even matter; given that every extra day represents a lost opportunity for profit that will never come back, almost any level of power consumption is acceptable if it means that the devices will ship faster.

Butterfly Labs’ shipment has been awaited by the community for nearly ten months; the company was in fact the first to start accepting pre-orders in June 2012. Although the original shipping date was scheduled for October, the company suffered a number of delays that changed their expected shipping date first to late November, then early January, then mid-February and finally where it is today. In the meantime two other major ASIC producers, Avalon and ASICMiner, have also started hashing, and are partially responsible for raising the network hashpower from 20 TH/s to 55 TH/s over the past three months (the other contributing factor being the rapidly increasing BTC price). However, the community is still watching Butterfly Labs intently for one key reason: its potential hashpower. Although the output of Avalon and ASICMiner has been small, with Avalon’s first release being 20 TH/s and ASICMiner’s launch 12 TH/s, Butterfly Labs’ preorders altogether make up over 60 TH/s – more than is currently on the entire Bitcoin network. - Read more here:

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