KnCMiner Finalizes Design For World’s First 20nm Bitcoin ASIC Miner

Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Mar 5, 2014 at 19:01 UTC
Updated May 15, 2014 at 12:40 UTC

KnCMiner says it has finalized the design of what should be the world’s first 20nm bitcoin ASIC miner.

The company is still not saying much about the upcoming ASIC or the rollout schedule, it merely states that the ‘tape-out’ was achieved only three months after starting the project. The actual tape-out happened sometime in February.

In electronics, a tape-out is the last stage of the design cycle for an integrated circuit.

KnCMiner teamed up with Alchip and Advanced Semiconductors Technology (AST) to design and produce the chip. The company points out that its first generation ASICs were delivered in three to five months.

Power friendly

KnC has not revealed any performance estimates yet, but the company is saying that the new ASIC should cut power consumption by 43%.

This sounds like a realistic estimate, as we have been hearing similar claims from chipmakers who are planning to transition from 28nm to 20nm later this year.

In addition to the new node, KnC has also optimised the design of on-die circuitry, which allowed it to stick 1440 cores in a relatively big 55 x 55mm package.

Back in November KnC said the Neptune 20nm chip would deliver at least 3TH of power, operating at 0.7 watts per GH/sec. The company was expecting a 30% reduction in power consumption and now it appears that it might beat its initial estimate.

This would not be the first time. When KnC announced the Jupiter ASIC, it promised 400GH/sec, but the chip actually operated north of 550GH/sec. However, it will be a while before we know whether Neptune can over-deliver like its predecessor.

Tricky transition

Marcus Erlandson, KnC’s CTO said he is proud of the team’s performance.

“The combined efforts of KnC and our partners Alchip means that once again we are bringing to market a world first silicon design and in record time,” he said.

President of Alchip Johnny Shen said KnC and Alchip have been working together on bitcoin ASIC design for less than a year and they have already delivered “two world-first projects”.

It is still unclear when the new ASIC will be ready for production. It usually takes several weeks between tape-out and full-scale production, but only if everything goes according to plan.

In the world of silicon chips, things can go wrong in an instant, and even big manufacturers have trouble transitioning to new manufacturing processes like TSMC’s 20nm node.

Silicon chip image via Shutterstock