Subject: Graphics Cards | February 28, 2018 - 09:04 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: bitmain, bitcoin, qualcomm, nvidia, amd
This article originally appeared in MarketWatch.
Research firm Bernstein recently published a report on the profitability of Bitmain Technologies, a secretive Chinese company with a huge impact on the bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets.
With estimated 2017 profits ranging from $3 billion to $4 billion, the size and scope of Beijing-based Bitmain is undeniable, with annual net income higher than some major tech players, including Nvidia and AMD. The privately held company, founded five years ago, has expanded its reach into many bitcoin-based markets, but most of its income stems from the development and sale of dedicated cryptocurrency mining hardware.
There is a concern that the sudden introduction of additional companies in the chip-production landscape could alter how other players operate. This includes the ability for Nvidia, AMD, Qualcomm and others to order chip production from popular semiconductor vendors at the necessary prices to remain competitive in their respective markets.
Bitmain makes most of its income through the development of dedicated chips used to mine bitcoin. These ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) offer better performance and power efficiency than other products such as graphics chips from Nvidia and AMD. The Bitmain chips are then combined into systems called “miners” that can include as many as 250 chips in a single unit. Those are sold to large mining companies or individuals hoping to turn a profit from the speculative cryptocurrency markets for prices ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars apiece.
Bitcoin mining giant
Bernstein estimates that as much as 70%-80% of the dedicated market for bitcoin mining is being addressed by Bitmain and its ASIC sales.
Bitmain has secondary income sources, including running mining pools (where groups of bitcoin miners share the workload of computing in order to turn a profit sooner) and cloud-based mining services where customers can simply rent mining hardware that exists in a dedicated server location. This enables people to attempt to profit from mining without the expense of buying hardware directly.
A Bitmain Antminer
The chip developer and mining hardware giant has key advantages for revenue growth and stability, despite the volatility of the cryptocurrency market. When Bitmain designs a new ASIC that can address a new currency or algorithm, or run a current coin algorithm faster than was previously possible, it can choose to build its Antminers (the brand for these units) and operate them at its own server farms, squeezing the profitability and advantage the faster chips offer on the bitcoin market before anyone else in the ecosystem has access to them.
As the difficulty of mining increases (which occurs as higher-performance mining options are released, lowering the profitability of older hardware), Bitmain can then start selling the new chips and associated Antminers to customers, moving revenue from mining directly to sales of mining hardware.
This pattern can be repeated for as long as chip development continues, giving Bitmain a tremendous amount of flexibility to balance revenue from different streams.
Imagine a situation where one of the major graphics chip vendors exclusively used its latest graphics chips for its own services like cloud-compute, crypto-mining and server-based rendering and how much more valuable those resources would be — that is the power that Bitmain holds over the bitcoin market.
Competing for foundry business
Clearly Bitmain is big business, and its impact goes well beyond just the bitcoin space. Because its dominance for miners depends on new hardware designs and chip production, where performance and power efficiency are critical to building profitable hardware, it competes for the same foundry business as other fabless semiconductor giants. That includes Apple, Nvidia, Qualcomm, AMD and others.
Companies that build ASICs as part of their business model, including Samsung, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and even Intel to a small degree, look for customers willing to bid the most for the limited availability of production inventory. Bitmain is not restricted to a customer base that is cost-sensitive — instead, its customers are profit-sensitive. As long as the crypto market remains profitable, Bitmain can absorb the added cost of chip production.
Advantages over Nvidia, AMD and Qualcomm
Nvidia, AMD and Qualcomm are not as flexible. Despite the fact that Nvidia can charge thousands for some of its most powerful graphics chips when targeting the enterprise and machine-learning market, the wider gaming market is more sensitive to price changes. You can see that in the unrest that has existed in the gaming space as the price of graphics cards rises due to inventory going to miners rather than gamers. Neither AMD nor Nvidia will get away with selling graphic cards to partners for higher prices and, as a result, there is a potential for negative market growth in PC gaming.
If Bitmain uses the same foundry as others, and is willing to pay more for it to build their chips at a higher priority than other fabless semiconductor companies, then it could directly affect the availability and pricing for graphics chips, mobile phone processors and anything else built at those facilities. As a result, not only does the cryptocurrency market have an effect on the current graphics chip market for gamers by causing shortages, but it could also impact future chip availability if Bitmain (and its competitors) are willing to spend more for the advanced process technologies coming in 2018 and beyond.
Still, nothing is certain in the world of bitcoin and cryptocurrency. The fickle and volatile market means the profitability of Bitmain’s Antminers could be reduced, lessening the drive to pay more for chips and production. There is clearly an impact from sudden bitcoin value drops (from $20,000 to $6,000 as we see saw this month) on mining hardware sales, both graphics chip-based and ASIC-based, but measuring that and predicting it is a difficult venture.
Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2017 - 09:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nicehash, mining, hack, Cyber Security, bitcoin
In a recent press release cryptocurreny mining market Nicehash revealed that its payment service was hacked and its BTC payment wallet was emptied. While the company did not reveal the exact amount lost, users on Reddit spent the better part of today worried as the service was initially "under maintenance" for 12 hours amidst suspicious transactions on the blockchain that saw 4,736.42 BTC taken from Nicehash and their Nicehash internal wallets reporting zero balances. The company is currently investigating the precise amount stolen, though estimates around the web put it north of $66 million USD worth of the popular cryptocurrency (at time of writing 1 BTC = ~$13970.50).
Image courtesy fdecomite via Flickr.
Users that mined to an external wallet for an additional fee are out unpaid balances less than 0.01 BTC, but sadly users that mined to an internal wallet have potentially losts hundreds or thousands of mined bitcoin. Also, purchasers of the Nicehash mining service may have lost the BTC that they paid into the service for alt coin hashing power.
"We are fully committed to restoring the NiceHash service with the highest security measures at the earliest opportunity.
We would not exist without our devoted buyers and miners all around the globe. We understand that you will have a lot of questions, and we ask for patience and understanding while we investigate the causes and find the appropriate solutions for the future of the service. We will endeavour to update you at regular intervals."
Nicehash is further recommending that users of its internal wallets change all of their online passwords (especially any that were similar to the one they used on the site) as a precaution.
The full press release is available here.
In all, it is a devastating hack that is another in a series of high profile crypto currency heists that have traditionally left users out money and the company destroyed. Nicehash has indicated that they have reached out to and are cooperating with the relevant authorities, but unless they are able to find the individual(s) responsible and recover the massive amount of bitcoin it is not looking good.
I hope that the bitcoin is able to be recovered or at least that Nicehash is able to do the right think and compensate its users from its own funds.
This high-profile attack further illustrates the need to use safe bitcoin storage practices and to always hold your own private key in an offline wallet (hardware or paper or at least encrypted software wallet you control at a minimum) for long term storage of funds. Your crypto currency is only truly yours when you alone control the private key(s) and you should only transfer and keep coins on other servers (e.g. exchanges) for as long as it takes to transfer them to your bank or as short a time as possible when trading.
What are your thoughts on this? Did you have money in a Nicehash wallet or unpaid mining balance? Do you plan to venture forth and mine on your own?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 3, 2017 - 04:26 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: bitcoin, cryptocurrency, mining, gaming, lisa su, amd, Vega
AMD’s CEO Lisa Su was recently appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch Exclusinve interview segment where she answered questions about bitcoin, blockchain technology, the tax reform bill, and sexual harassment in the workplace.
Of particular interest to PC Perspective readers, Dr. Lisa Su shared several interesting bits of information on cryptocurrency mining and how it is affecting the company’s graphics cards. Surprisingly, she stated that cryptocurrency miners were a "very small percentage" of sales and specifically that they represented a mid-single digit percentage of buyers (~4 to 6 percent). This number is hard to believe for me as I expected it to be significantly higher with the prices of graphics cards continuing to climb well above MSRP (it wasn’t too bad when writing our gift guide and shortly after but just as I was about to commit I looked and prices had shot back up again coinciding with a resurgence in mining popularity with the price of cryptocurrencies rising and improving ROI).
Further, the AMD president and CEO states that the company is interested in this market, but they are mainly waiting to see how businesses and industries adopt blockchain technologies. AMD is “very pleased to participate in blockchain” and believes it is a “very important foundational product”. Dr. Lisa Su did not seem very big on bitcoin specifically, but did seem interested in the underlying blockchain technologies and future cryptocurrencies.
Beyond bitcoin, altcoins, and the GPU mining craze, AMD believes that gaming is and continues to be a tremendous growth market for the company. AMD has reportedly launched 10 new product families and saw sizeable increases in sales on Amazon and Newegg versus last year with processor sales tripling and double digital percentage increases in graphics sales in 2017. AMD also managed to be in two of the three gaming towers in Best Buy for the holiday buying season.
Speaking for AMD Dr. Su also had a few other interesting bits of information to share. The interview is fairly short and worth watching. Thankfully Kyle over at HardOCP managed to record it and you can watch it here. If you aren't able to stream the video, PCGamer has transcribed most of the major statements.
What are your thoughts on the interview? Will we ever see GPU prices return to normal so I can upgrade, and do you agree with AMD’s assessment that miners are such a small percentage of their sales and not as much of an influencer in pricing as we thought (perhaps it’s a supply problem rather than a demand problem, or the comment was only taking their mining-specific cards into account?)?
There has been a lot of news lately about the release of Cryptocurrency-specific graphics cards from both NVIDIA and AMD add-in board partners. While we covered the currently cryptomining phenomenon in an earlier article, today we are taking a look at one of these cards geared towards miners.
It's worth noting that I purchased this card myself from Newegg, and neither AMD or Sapphire are involved in this article. I saw this card pop up on Newegg a few days ago, and my curiosity got the best of me.
There has been a lot of speculation, and little official information from vendors about what these mining cards will actually entail.
From the outward appearance, it is virtually impossible to distinguish this "new" RX 470 from the previous Sapphire Nitro+ RX 470, besides the lack of additional display outputs beyond the DVI connection. Even the branding and labels on the card identify it as a Nitro+ RX 470.
In order to test the hashing rates of this GPU, we are using Claymore's Dual Miner Version 9.6 (mining Ethereum only) against a reference design RX 470, also from Sapphire.
On the reference RX 470 out of the box, we hit rates of about 21.8 MH/s while mining Ethereum.
Once we moved to the Sapphire mining card, we move up to at least 24 MH/s from the start.
Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2017 - 02:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gambling, blockchain, bitcoin, ethereum
Argonaut Software founder and Ethereum guru Jez San’s Funfair project looks to make online gambling more secure with blockchains. He related a story about how the admins of an online casino site used privileges to view players' cards and pass the information onto accomplices, tilting the odds even more in favour of the house. With a blockchain every single transaction is publicly recorded and anyone can inspect and audit that record so such nefarious schemes would immediately be spotted. This also opens up an interesting choice for regulators, who could either embrace the technology and be able to monitor and police it or attempt to ignore or prevent it, in which case they would be totally shut out of the entire process. This is a very complex idea, for a deeper look into how this could work and the repercussions of it being embraced you can pop over to The Register.
"One of the brains behind classic Nintendo game Star Fox is launching a blockchain-based online gambling service that could leave regulators stumped – and says he has raised $200,000 from the public to launch it."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- NotPetya malware 'absorbed NSA exploit six months before they were made public' @ The Inquirer
- Don't panic, but Linux's Systemd can be pwned via an evil DNS query @ The Register
- GNOME System76 Unveils Its Own Ubuntu-Based Linux Distribution Called 'Pop!_OS' @ Slashdot
- O Rly? O'Reilly exits direct book sales @ The Register
- TP-Link TL-PA9020P AV2000 2-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Adapter Kit Review @ NikKTech
Astute readers of the site might remember the original story we did on Bitcoin mining in 2011, the good ole' days where the concept of the blockchain was new and exciting and mining Bitcoin on a GPU was still plenty viable.
However, that didn't last long, as the race for cash lead people to developing Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) dedicated solely to Bitcoin mining quickly while sipping power. Use of the expensive ASICs drove the difficulty of mining Bitcoin to the roof and killed any sort of chance of profitability from mere mortals mining cryptocurrency.
Cryptomining saw a resurgence in late 2013 with the popular adoption of alternate cryptocurrencies, specifically Litecoin which was based on the Scrypt algorithm instead of AES-256 like Bitcoin. This meant that the ASIC developed for mining Bitcoin were useless. This is also the period of time that many of you may remember as the "Dogecoin" era, my personal favorite cryptocurrency of all time.
Defenders of these new "altcoins" claimed that Scrypt was different enough that ASICs would never be developed for it, and GPU mining would remain viable for a larger portion of users. As it turns out, the promise of money always wins out, and we soon saw Scrypt ASICs. Once again, the market for GPU mining crashed.
That brings us to today, and what I am calling "Third-wave Cryptomining."
While the mass populous stopped caring about cryptocurrency as a whole, the dedicated group that was left continued to develop altcoins. These different currencies are based on various algorithms and other proofs of works (see technologies like Storj, which use the blockchain for a decentralized Dropbox-like service!).
As you may have predicted, for various reasons that might be difficult to historically quantify, there is another very popular cryptocurrency from this wave of development, Ethereum.
Ethereum is based on the Dagger-Hashimoto algorithm and has a whole host of different quirks that makes it different from other cryptocurrencies. We aren't here to get deep in the woods on the methods behind different blockchain implementations, but if you have some time check out the Ethereum White Paper. It's all very fascinating.
Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2017 - 04:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asrock, H110, Skylake, bitcoin, cryptocurrency, mining, storj, computex, computex 2017
ASRock showed off an upcoming motherboard at Computex that features 13 PCI-Express slots and is aimed squarely at crypto currency miners. The new H110 Pro BTC+ is an ATX board based on Intel’s H110 chipset and LGA 1151 socket (Skylake CPUs). The board is dominated by 12 PCI-E x1 slots and a single PCI-E x16 slot (I suppose for mounting a SAS card and Burst mining or running Storj heh), but it also has slots for two DDR4 DIMMs, a single M.2 port, and four SATA ports. The board also supports Intel Gigabit Ethernet, ELNA audio, USB 3.0 and DVI and HDMI video outputs for the Intel iGPU.
The upcoming board is powered by a 24 pin ATX, 8 pin EPS, and two Molex connectors for the PCI-E slots. The H110 Pro BTC+ appears to have a decent power phase setup for an H110 motherboard as well. ASRock showed off the motherboard running eight GPUs on Windows at Computex, though with Linux it is possible go beyond that and run all 13 GPUs. The H110 chipset does mean that miners would need to spend money on a newer CPU and DDR4 memory, but they would save money by buying fewer motherboards and/or port multipliers.
Exact specifications along with pricing and availability are still unknown, but expect the mining crowd to jump on this so if you are interested in it be sure to set up email alerts for when it will become available so that you can get in before the miners make it go out of stock everywhere like the RX 580s! (heh)
Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2017 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: storj, farming, bitcoin
Startup company Storj has a new twist on an old service, they are offering secure, distributed storage but the storage is located on hard drives which consumers are renting to them. You can set up an account and get 1.5 cents per gigabyte you give to them. You certainly are not going to get rich running out and buying some SSDs to use but if you have a few old HDDs kicking around perhaps you would like to make a few crypto-coins on the side. They current have 8200 farmers and more than 15000 users so there is certainly some interest. On the other hand residential internet stability and the reliability of consumer hard drives could lead to unexpected interruptions to your access. Drop by The Register for links to sign up for the service or sell some space if you are interested.
"The network consists of the internet and a shared community of “farmers”, users who rent out their spare desktop hard drive space and bandwidth. Payment, at $0.015/GB, is via a cryptocurrency: namely, Bitcoin."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- LG's Latest Battery Is Also a Phone @ Slashdot
- What to expect at MWC: Five flagship smartphones and the return of the brick @ Ars Technica
- Google makes a mockery of SHA-1 with 'first' collision attack @ The Inquirer
- Intel scales Atom to 16 cores, updates Xeon SoCs @ The Register
- iOS 10.2.1 has fixed battery shutdown issue for majority of suffering iPhone users @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: bitcoin, dogecoin, internet of things, cryptocurrency
Not content to ruin the hopes of gamers wanting to upgrade to a Hawaii based AMD GPU now your smart devices are being press ganged into mining crypto-currency. Everything from TVs and fridges through printers, routers and security cameras can be infected with the linux.darlloz worm and will then begin mining for the author of the worm. The worm will even block other infections and has even been monitored patching certain holes in routers to prevent anything else from infecting the device and slowing down the mining computations. The Inquirer does have some humourous news about this worm, there are 31,716 separate IP addresses infected but this has manged to raise a mere $196.00 so for the author.
"A WORM that leverages the Internet of Things to mine cryptocurrencies has been found to have infected around 31,000 devices."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- MSI Shows Off New Gaming Notebooks @ Kitguru
- Exclusive Interview with Richard Huddy from Intel at GDC @ Kitguru
- Top 10 Google Chromecast apps you should install @ The Inquirer
- Azure promises to guard virtual machines against migration dangers @ The Register
- 'Software amplifier' boosts quantum signals @ The Register
- Intel Desktop Roadmap Update - Devil's Canyon, Broadwell @ Legit Reviews
- Intel Talks Haswell-E, Broadwell, Devil's Canyon & More @ Hardware Canucks
- Intel to renew commitment to desktop PCs with a slew of new CPUs
- We're being royalty screwed! Pandora blames price rise on musos wanting money @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 03:48 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: x240, video, tegra, podcast, origin, nvidia, MWC, litecoin, Lenovo, Intel, icera, eos 17 slx, dogecoin, bitcoin, atom, amd, 750ti
PC Perspective Podcast #289 - 02/27/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Origin PC EOS-17 SLX Gaming Laptop, Mining on a 750Ti, News from MWC and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
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