Scrypt ASIC Race Intensifies, KnCMiner Scores $2 Million in Preorders

NEWS
Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Mar 20, 2014 at 17:36 UTC  |  Updated  Sep 10, 2014 at 11:48 UTC

KnCMiner announced its first scrypt miner yesterday and today it reported that it already has $2m worth of pre-orders. In fact, all the orders for KnC's Titan models were made in just four hours.

The Titan is based on the KnC Jupiter form factor, but it is an entirely different beast, as it's based on a scrypt ASIC rather than a bitcoin ASIC. KnC has not said much about the spec, we still don't know the details, but the company says the Titan can deliver 100MH/s. It is priced at $9,995.

According to the International Business Times, KnC plans to build 2,500 miners in its initial production run.

KnC says the market for scrypt mining has grown substantially over the past six months, so now is a good time go get involved. However, KnC is not the only company with scrypt mining on its mind.

Alpha Technology eager to fight back

Alpha Technology is on track to ship its first scrypt ASICs later this year and it has some good news for would-be litecoin miners.

Its upcoming Viper Miners should end up significantly faster than expected. The company informed us that it plans to have a prototype up and running sometime in May. This will be no small feat, as the company is still lacking certain crucial components needed to build the first unit.

The company plans to tape-out its ASICs later this month, so it is practically in the manufacturing stage now. The design has been optimised with the aim of reducing cost and increasing hash rate. The tweaks were successful and the hash rate of the 25MH/s units is now 90MH/s, while 5MH/s units will in fact deliver 16MH/s.

Source: Alpha Technology
Source: Alpha Technology

Alpha Technology CEO Mohammed Akram told CoinDesk that development is going smoothly. This of course does not mean that it is easy. The biggest hurdle faced by the engineering team was overcoming power efficiency issues.

This tends to be a problem during the design stage, as the design's efficiency cannot be tested properly until silicon is available. Alpha cooperated with its foundry to further optimise backend flow, greatly reducing power consumption.

The power draw is not much lower than originally advertised, and so is the ASIC clock, which in turn reduces thermal issues. The lower stock clocks should leave a bit more headroom for overclocking.

So far so good, but ...

However, there are a number of caveats that apply to both companies. The hardware is not ready yet, so it is impossible to reach any conclusions. We still don't know much about power consumption, although the latest hash rates coming out of KnC and Alpha are encouraging.

litecoin-hashrate-march2014

The biggest problem, however, has nothing to do with hardware. In fact, good hardware could cause it.

KnC is on track to sell roughly $25m worth of Titan miners in the first batch alone and it will soon be joined by Alpha and other competitors.  This batch alone could more than double the hash rate – and the difficulty.

One Alpha Viper running at 90MH/s is roughly the equivalent of a hundred Radeon R9 290X cards running on reference clocks. The Titan is even faster, it is as fast as a hundred overclocked Radeon R9 290X cards. Now imagine what a few batches from both companies could do.

This could have massive implications, as thousands of GPU miners would be rendered obsolete practically overnight and prices will be impacted, too. On the other hand, it might be good news for gamers, as they will probably be able to pick up second-hand AMD Tahiti- and Hawaii-based graphics cards on the cheap as soon as the new ASIC rigs become operational.

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ScryptAlpha TechnologyKnC TitanScrypt Mining