New Paper Explores Cooling Challenges in Bitcoin Mining Industry

A new white paper provides an in-depth look at the cooling challenges experienced by large-scale bitcoin mines.

AccessTimeIconApr 13, 2014 at 1:55 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 10:39 a.m. UTC
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A new white paper from Allied Control, a technology cooling solutions provider, surveys the current large-scale bitcoin mining ecosystem and explores the implications of current and future cooling technologies.

According to author Alex Kampl, Allied's vice president of engineering, there are significant deficiencies in how mining hardware is manufactured and deployed worldwide. As a result, investors already involved risk losing money and new ones may be dissuaded from taking part at all.

He told CoinDesk:

"I believe a lot of money is lost with unreliable mining hardware manufacturers – hardware not delivered at all, delivered late, or shipped under promised spec. We all know how miners lose money. This reputation of the mining market and the challenge of deployment, that keeps many investors away."

The ins and outs of a billion-dollar industry

Over the course of the paper's 30-odd pages, Kampl explores the designs of some of the world's large-scale mining operations and the implications of their cooling efforts.

This includes KnCMiner's 3MW facility in Sweden, which according to Kampl is in the process of expanding by another 9,000 square meters to reach a capacity of roughly 10MW.

With tens of thousands of fans running simultaneously, Kampl estimated that an airflow of 75 million cubic feet per minute (CFM) is required to adequately cool the facility.

Kampl also researched the MegaBigPower Company's 1.4MW mining facility in the United States, the owner of which was recently interviewed by CoinDesk.

Cooling concerns prompted the MegaBigPower team to invest in bigger air conditioning infrastructure, resulting in an average air flow of 150,000 CFM.

Yet the concern of providing sufficient airflow to a mine is only one part of the greater challenge of running a bitcoin operation. Instead, cooling is a multi-faceted process that fits into the broader challenges facing mine management teams.

Kampl writes in the paper:

"Cooling system parts including heatsinks, fans, water blocks, and support hardware such as enclosures, power supplies and mechanical parts are not an essential part of the mining core, but very often take up a majority of the manufacturers' or mine operators' resources. This results in a large number of suppliers that must be orchestrated to deliver a working product."

Immersion cooling as a viable option for mines

For Kampl, a key solution lies in the use of immersion cooling. This negates the need to maintain fan systems prone to malfunction or breakdowns. Kampl argued that immersion cooling is actually more beneficial for miners compared to other computing needs in the private sector.

He told CoinDesk:

"Passive 2-phase immersion cooling is extremely promising, but miners are probably the only ones with the density, flexibility and the need for rapid deployment to use it here and today."

Addressing the argument that immersion cooling is too costly, even for investors with deeper pockets than the average miner, Kampl said: "The point of immersion is that it saves money."

Bitcoin mining ecosystem continues to evolve

Given the potential payoff for investing in mining operations, the environment for both large- and small-scale miners continues to grow – and complicate.

Earlier this week, KnCMiner announced that it will offer modified versions of its Jupiter line of mining products for those who don't want to wait for deliveries of KnCMiner's Neptune device.

DigitalBTC, an Australia-based company which was recently listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, signed a strategic supply deal this month with hardware manufacturer BitFury.

On the malware front, unsuspecting users of the Google Play Store found themselves the targets of mining software uploaders, a discovery made late last month by cybersecurity experts from Trend Micro.

Image credit: Computer server farm abstract via Shutterstock


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