Avalon ASIC's 40nm Chip to Bring Hashing Boost for Less Power

NEWS
Daniel Cawrey
Mar 14, 2014 at 19:50 UTC  |  Updated  Mar 19, 2014 at 05:02 UTC

A newly released report reveals details of Avalon ASIC's upcoming third-generation bitcoin mining chip.

According to the preliminary report, the 40nm ASIC – which Avalon is calling the A3233-Q48 – will have 7 GH/s of power per integrated circuit, which is a substantial performance increase from Avalon's previous 55nm node chip.

Furthermore, that boost will come with reduced power consumption because of the decreased node size – welcome news for miners struggling with high electricity bills.

The chip will come in a 7 x 7mm package, which has not changed from the second-generation version.

Smaller and shorter paths will endow the chip with lower power consumption, but increased heat density – hence the decision to stick with the same overall dimensions.

Avalon was the first company to manufacture and deliver ASIC chips for bitcoin mining, but it has experienced problems with shipment delays in the past, which they have tried to put behind them.

ASIC Evolution

When asked about the new chip, Yifu Guo, co-founder of Avalon, told CoinDesk:

"[With the] last generation, we had 120 hash cores in the chip design, 1.5 GH/s per chip, 2 watts per GH/s, on 55nm standard cell design. This generation we have 768 hash cores, 7 GH/s per chip, 0.75 watts per GH/s, on a 40nm full custom design."

The new chip will be able to hash much faster, while increasing power efficiency by a factor of 2.5. For comparison of specifications, Avalon's second-generation A3255-Q48 chip preliminary report can be found here.

Avalon A3233Q48 architecture, which appears similar to its predecessor. Source: Avalon Datasheet
The Avalon A3233-Q48's architecture appears similar to its predecessor. Source: Avalon Datasheet

 

Focusing on chips

Guo said that pricing for the A3233-Q48 has not yet been determined, but he made it clear that Avalon's focus is on selling quantities of ASIC chips to sophisticated buyers:

"Pricing is not yet determined. We are focusing mainly on chip sales, and producing some of our design as prototypes to demonstrate the chips."

The company currently has its second-generation chip available for 13 BTC per 2,500 units. At recent CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index valuations, that's around $8,200.

That chip operates out of the box at 1.2 GH/s, but it can be overclocked to 1.5 GH/s.

Avalon has also said it is publishing open-source designs for the chips on its GitHub pages to be used for different applications. A USB stick, 2U rack-mount blade and a PCI-e design will be available form factors.

The rivals

In comparison to Avalon's business model, some ASIC chip designers, like Butterfly Labs, only currently sell full mining units. BFL is currently attempting to bring its 600 GH/s 28nm Monarch blade to market, but has experienced delays

KnCMiner is also selling only complete miners. Its 20nm design has been taped out, making it the first SHA256 ASIC at that node. Taping out refers to last stage of the design process for an integrated circuit.

As for Avalon, Guo said he expects the bitcoin ecosystem to build complete miners with its chips.

The company is endeavouring to provide a low-cost entry into mining with its future chip designs.

Said Guo:

"We hope the community will take up the production, [so] we can focus on engineering and improving chip design in generation four, while lowering the barrier of entry for mining."

Turbo mode

Avalon's second generation  A3255-Q48. Source: Avalon
Avalon's second generation A3255-Q48. Source: Avalon

The A3255-Q48 is able to achieve a 1.5-1.6 GH/s speed by overclocking from its typical core voltage of 0.9 volts to 1.0 V, with a maximum of 1.1 V.

Avalon will have overclocking, or 'turbo mode', results available soon for the third-generation chip, Guo says. This will exceed the 7 GH/s normal operating performance when at .75 V. The chip's core maximum, according to the report, is .9 V. Guo added:

"This is [a] preliminary result. We will be releasing low-power performance mode data, as well as turbo mode data soon as results becomes available."

The third-gen chip will be produced by Taiwan Semiconductor, which has been Avalon's fabricator for all of its chips so far.

A release date for the A3233-Q48 has not yet been set, the company says.

Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of any of the companies mentioned. Please do your own extensive research before considering investing any funds in these products.

Integrated circuit image via Shutterstock

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Butterfly LabsKnCMinerAvalon ASIC