The bitcoin mining ecosystem seems primed for major change, if recent developments are harbingers of what’s to come. New funding and expansive initiatives are pushing the boundaries of the mining sector and opening doors for both recent entrants and established heavyweights.

Today the bitcoin network hash rate stands at nearly 125 petahashes per second, according to Blockchain, with the difficulty resting just below 17 billion. With a steady trend upward – and suggestions that mining economies around the world could grow in scope and capacity – there’s no telling where these numbers will be by summer’s end.

With that, read on to see what’s been happening in the mining world during the past two weeks.

PeerNova raises funds in pre-Series A round

84627PeerNova, the company formed by the May merger of CloudHashing and HighBitcoin, has announced new pre-Series A funding from a single investor.

Cybersecurity entrepreneur and FireEye founder Ashar Aziz is investing an undisclosed sum in the California-based company. FireEye, founded in 2004, specializes in network security services and has a market capitalization of nearly $5bn.

Aziz remarked in a press statement that becoming involved with bitcoin is part of a broader shift to a safer, cryptographically enhanced digital economy, saying:

“As cyber threats proliferate and get more sophisticated, I believe that crypto-ledgers like bitcoin’s block chain will play an increasing role in recording the exchange of valuable assets.”

The funding will be used to fund PeerNova’s future projects, which includes next-generation mining hardware and peer-to-peer application platforms. CEO Naveed Sherwani said that the company plans on releasing a range of products that take advantage of the possible uses for the block chain, calling the block chain “the true innovation” of bitcoin.

Since its formation two months ago, PeerNova has emerged on the global bitcoin stage as a leading voice. Sherwani took part in a broad discussion on the nature and future of mining at the CoinSummit digital currency confab in London that also included MegaBigPower CEO Dave Carlson.

BitFury enters the investment game

Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer BitFury has announced the creation of BitFury Capital, a new seed investment initiative that will fund nascent companies in the bitcoin space.

BitFury

BitFury, which raised $20 million in new funding in May, wants to forge a series of new partnerships with bitcoin companies over the next few years. The company is actively seeking partners and fund participants, with those interested being invited to apply, according to a 9th July press release.

In a statement, BitFury chief executive Valery Vavilov said that the company wants to use its weight to provide support to other parts of the bitcoin market. Proceeds from the new fund will both help BitFury grow its own initiatives while expanding investments elsewhere.

He said:

“Our leadership position in cryptocurrency and bitcoin infrastructure will help accelerate and help grow the significance of other parts in the ecosystem – which in return grows the value of our own core business, and enables us to expand into new opportunities within the industry.”

The company’s significant role in the mining space suggests that it may become involved with existing businesses as well as new ones. BitFury’s products can be found in a range of operations worldwide, including North America-based industrial miner MegaBigPower. As well, BitFury received a high-profile customer in CoinSeed, which purchased $5 million in hardware at the time.

Zeus seeks ‘global scrypt network’

Last month, MegaBigPower announced the launch of a global mining franchisee program aimed at significantly expanding hashing power within the bitcoin network.

Mining hardware company Zeus Integrated Systems, which operates mining ASIC ZeusMiner and cloud hashing service ZeusHost, is aiming to launch a similar project that it calls a “Global Scrypt Mining Network”.

ZeusMiner

Specifically, the company said that it will provide mining power and the expertise to operate it to those who have facility space and sufficient power output to run the machines. In a press release, Zeus remarked that the goal was to empower miners and build more sustainable networks for altcoins that utilize the hashing algorithm.

The company said:

“Despite the ups and down in altcoin market, we hold strong faith in scrypt mining industry. Scrypt-based coins have already taken a large share in crypocurrency business. We believe altcoins led by litecoin will rise as a vital force for earning more ROI.”

In its announcement, Zeus added that interested parties should submit information regarding the resources they are capable of providing, including available space, power output and expertise in the area of scrypt mining. Those interested can contact the company by sending an email to farm@zeusminer.com.

ASIC Highlight: the RockMiner Rocket Box

CoinDesk received a Rocket Box from RockMiner to test out. The bitcoin ASIC is advertised as providing approximately 450-490 GH/s in performance, with a roughly 480 watt power consumption rating. We took the seven-kilogram unit for a spin to see how it performed mining bitcoins.

ASIC 1

Set-up was simple, requiring about 10 minutes of wiring. The Rocket Box came with the requisite USB cables, receiver port for the cables and a Raspberry Pi.

For power access, the unit requires four six-pin PCI-E cables which were not provided but are easily attainable at any computer hardware stores.

ASIC 2

RockMiner deploys a cloud-based user interface with a native CGMiner environment.

As you can see in the picture below, the UI offers basic information including mining performance per ASIC, temperature rates and share accrual, as well as share time updates and rejection rates for each unit.

UI

You can also input pool information, configure IP address data and update existing information. The UI also facilitates unit rebooting and status checks.

Hashing power-wise, the unit performs well within the ranges advertised by the company. According to our comparisons between pool and RockMiner UI readings, the unit averaged between 460 GH/s and 515 GH/s at a given time.

In terms of operating temperatures, the Rocket Box ASICs averaged 51 degrees Celcius and maintained that range over a 12-hour testing period. It’s design is conducive for air cooling, and with the added fan the Rocket Box doesn’t get too hot.

ASIC 3

The unit’s power consumption rate was also close to the advertised numbers. The unit pulled approximately 490 watts on an 860-watt power source, and maintained a steady flow through a 12-hour test. The unit’s ability to hash upon power-up was noted to be quick – after preprogramming, the Rocket Box automatically connects to a predetermined pool after startup.

Overall, the Rocket Box delivers hashing power and electrical consumption rates as-advertised. Aesthetically its design is a good fit for any sized (in our case, very small) mining space and the open-air concept allows for easy access to the components.

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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.

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