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KnCMiner Unveils First 20nm Neptune Chips, Sets Shipping Date

| Published on June 17, 2014 at 19:35 BST

Swedish cryptocurrency mining hardware developer KnCMiner has announced that it has received the first batch of Neptune ASICs, which are the world’s first 20nm mining ASIC designs.

The company said in a 17th June blog post that this initial batch is currently undergoing testing and optimization. The first products based on the new chips are expected to ship this week, it added.

KnCMiner also announced that its preliminary estimates on hashing output and power consumption were accurate, stating:

"We've reached our initial targets on speed and power consumption. But, as this is the first day we’ve had the Neptune in our lab our technicians have already implemented a few tricks to increase hashing speed and we’ll release updates to our firmware shortly."

First to 20nm

The design of the Neptune was finalised earlier this year, with the chips undergoing a tape-out on schedule. The Neptune ASIC is loosely based on the Jupiter design, featuring 1440 cores in a 55mm x 55mm package. However, the company has stopped short of disclosing the actual die size.

Neptune’s biggest selling point has little to do with the architecture or die size – it is all about the new 20nm manufacturing process. Thanks to the new process and the resulting reduction in die and transistor size, the company says the Neptune can deliver substantial power efficiency improvements over the current generation of Jupiter ASICs.

The company explained:

"Using the speed offered by a true 20nm die process each Neptune churns out more than 3 TH/s while consuming only 2.1 KW at the wall. That works out to 0.7 watts per GH/s or less."

Most mining ASICs on the market today are 28nm or 40nm designs, and it is interesting to note that KnC’s ‘process lead’ extends beyond the mining niche. Intel currently holds the process lead in the x86 space, with its 22nm Haswell processors, while AMD’s latest Kaveri APUs are 28nm parts.

The same is true of ARM-based mobile processors used in most phones and tablets and graphics processors (GPUs). Most are 28nm designs and the first 20nm products are expected later this year, or in early 2015.

Fresh software to match

In addition to new Neptune hardware, KnCMiner developers are also working on software updates designed to make the most of the company’s new chips.

KnC says the updates to its firmware will be released shortly, but it also adds that its technicians have already implemented “a few tricks” to increase hashing speed.

Back in April, KnCMiner started offering incentives for early adopters who were not willing to wait for their pre-ordered Neptune rigs. The first two batches of Neptune miners sold out fast, and the company now says batch three is available for pre-order.

The company expects to start fulfilling batch 1 pre-orders this week, while batch 2 miners should start shipping before the end of the month.

Image via KnCMiner

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