The first 500 gigahash per second ASIC mining rig from Butterfly Labs has been put into operation, as reported on the Bitcoin Forum. We recently reported on the first shipment of the Bitforce SC 60 desktop miner, and at the other end of the hashing spectrum is Butterfly Lab's BitForce 500 GH/s unit. Until yesterday, none had been seen in the wild.
Bitcoin forum member gigavps posted a photo of a mining room filled with rigs. Most of which are reportedly field-programmable gate array (FPGA) devices. However, the large unit centred in the photograph with two grey power plugs is the Butterfly Lab's BitForce 500 GH/s unit that has caught the attention of many.
At the time of posting, gigavps warned that the unit would be repeatedly shut down while ckolivas, who was assisting, modified the machine's software to optimise performance. After some tweaking, the device was said to have been left to run continuously for two hours, and was shown to have an average hash rate of 478.1 GH/s. As you can see in the table below, ASIC number four (of a total of eight hashing chips) ran significantly hotter (86 degrees) and consequently gave the highest hardware (HW) error rate.
When asked what type of cooling was being used for the menagerie of miners, gigavps replied, "12 tons of high powered dc hvac". When asked about the mining rig's power consumption, gigavps estimated that each 500 GH/s unit should consume "2,300 to 2,400 Watts". However, that power estimate was not confirmed in the forum thread.
Forum user Syke criticised the unit's performance for being short of what had been originally planned by Butterfly Labs.
It was supposed to be 1500 GH/s @ 1500 watts in October '12. Now it's 500 GH/s at 2400 watts in June '13. They didn't "come through". They blew it.
The unit referenced by Syke is shown on Butterfly Lab's website here and was detailed in October 2012 by Bitcoin Magazine. Another forum member, crazyates, responded by saying: "They will be compensating customers with 3x the number of units, so you will be getting the same hashrate as what you paid for". However, we could not confirm this information.