Alpha Technology, the British company who announced in November it would be one of the first to bring ASIC mining devices for litecoin and similar cryptocurrencies to market in 2014, this week announced it would begin taking pre-orders for 30% deposits.
Customers may now register their interest on the website. There will be two devices available, both employing stacked Viper Boards: one 5MH/s device for £1,350 (about $2,225) and a 25MH/s device for £5,450 (about $8,980), plus VAT for UK customers.
Alpha Technology said both the hashing rates and delivery times quoted were deliberately conservative estimates, and actual shipping should be well underway by Q2-Q3 of 2014. The prices quoted on the product page are the deposit amounts.
The machines are standalone, with no need for a host PC. They feature a LCD panel on the enclosure and can be configured with WebGUI via a desktop or mobile device, bringing access to alt-coin mining to less experienced users.
While all serious bitcoin mining these days is performed with specially-designed ASIC and FPGA-based chipsets, such technology has eluded other currencies using the scrypt algorithm so far.
This is mainly due to the choice of scrypt to deliberately resist these chips due to its intensive use of more expensive memory, keeping mining in the hands of enthusiasts with consumer grade GPU mining hardware for longer.
Its devices could also be used to mine any other cryptocurrencies using the same scrypt algorithm that were gaining popularity, such as Novacoin, Feathercoin, and even Dogecoin.
To produce the devices the company has partnered with Indian engineering firm Dexcel Designs, who have been involved with large scale embedded product engineering for 13 years and worked with international companies like Intel, Texas Instruments, Altera, Xilinx, and Analog Devices.
Dexcel Designs were handling all development and quality assurance, while Alpha Technology supplied its expertise in cryptocurrencies and mining specific issues.
Trusting hardware companies
Alpha Technology's CEO Mohammed Akram said reputation was important, and has stressed a need for transparency and reliability throughout the development process.
Some companies in the bitcoin mining realm struggled with credibility issues in 2013 bringing cutting-edge equipment to market on time and on price.
This is the reason Alpha Technology will be accepting only 30% deposits on orders, with the remaining 70% required two months before shipping. Akram said deposits are refundable (with penalties and conditions depending on timing) if orders are canceled.
"The 30% deposit is something no ASIC company has done before. This is due to the confidence we have in our development and planning ahead, engineering work from Dexcel Designs has been great and we will be working with Global Foundries for our chip fabrication."
It would supply "Kickstarter style" regular updates with videos of its progress as a way of keeping in close contact with those who ordered.
"The live updates we are proposing should give in depths into what we are doing on a daily basis with videos, images and specifications. Customers are paying and while they wait they deserve to know what is going on, we will be giving as much transparency as possible."
On its website, the company called the listed hashing estimates of 5MH/s and 25 MH/s a "worst-case scenario" with the final shipping devices expected to beat those estimates.
Akram said the majority of the litecoin network's hashing power would remain GPU-based for much of 2014, and would not see any significant rises during that time.
After that, ASICs would offer advantages not only in hashing power but would be more energy (and thus cost) efficient than GPU rigs.
Though still worth substantially less, litecoin is the world's second most valuable cryptocurrency and its price has shadowed that of bitcoin as it rose, fell, and rose over the past couple of months.
After hitting a lowly 0.0075 BTC as recently as 18th November, it rocketed up to 0.051 BTC within 10 days.
1 LTC is currently trading for 0.0309 BTC on the BTC-e exchange, or $25. Its current total market cap is just over $600m.
This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of Alpha Technology, please do your own research before considering sending any funds to this company.
Feature image: Viper Miner