Spondoolies-Tech Promises More Power-Efficient Mining

Danny Bradbury
Mar 21, 2014 at 05:22 UTC
Updated Apr 1, 2014 at 09:42 UTC

An Israeli company launched a bitcoin mining system this week that promises to eventually double existing power efficiencies. Spondoolies-Tech is touting mining rigs that will offer up to 2.1 TH/sec per kilowatt of energy today by the summer.

The company has designed an ASIC chip that it says can achieve a similar performance to the design currently used by ASIC mining manufacturers such as Cointerra. The difference, says Spondoolies-Tech cofounder Guy Corem, is the process node; Cointerra uses a 28nm (nanometer) ASIC chip design, whereas Spondoolies-Tech uses a 40nm design.

The process node in a computer chip is the resolution of the components on the chip. Smaller numbers mean a higher resolution, and hence more microscopic transistors in a certain area. This has two benefits: it increases the speed that the transistors can operate at, and it also lowers the power consumption.

So how does Corem claim to have matched Cointerra with a larger process node? Using smarter code, and better physical design, he explained.

“I have a non-standard implementation of SHA-256 [the cryptographic software algorithm used by the Bitcoin protocol], as well as a very good physical implementation of the engine on the ASIC,” said Corem.

One thing he claims to have done is reduce the ‘toggle rate’ of the chips – meaning the number of times that the tiny electrical components have to switch electrical state.

The company started taking orders this week for its SP-10 unit, codenamed ‘Dawson’. It is targeting consumers with the device, which provides 1.4 TH/sec of computing power for 1.2kW of energy. That equates to 1.17 GH/watt.

This compares to 0.95 GH/Watt based on the published specification of Cointerra’s latest TerraMiner IV. Although CoinDesk reported last month that the Cointerra unit had fallen short of that performance figure. Based on reported performance in the field, the true figure would be more like 0.8 GH/Watt.

The SP-10 sells for $4,995, while the TerraMiner – which doesn’t ship its next units until June – costs $5,999.

All of this makes Spondoolies-Tech an appealing unit, at least in theory. The company opened its store on Wednesday, and appears to be enjoying early successes.

When CoinDesk spoke to Corem last week, he said that he expects to sell around 20 of these units in March, and around 2-300 of them in April, with more coming in May, based on deliveries of chips from TSMC subsidiary Global Unichip. Based on those numbers, he’s done very well, as after his first day he is now displaying a May shipment date.

Spondoolies-Tech has raised over $5.5m in funding. This came from two Israeli venture capital firms: Genesis Partners, and BRM. $1m came from a group of angel investors.

This will help it to develop and promote its second unit, the SP-30, codenamed Yukon, which promises a bigger power-performance jump. This will deliver 5.4 TH/sec of computing power using 2.4Kw, the firm says. On the site, it publicizes a 2.1 TH/kW (2.1 GH/Watt) performance figure for the box, which is scheduled to ship in August.

The power boost there comes from the process node improvement; that $11,995 unit will contain 30 28nm chips, compared to 192 40nm chips in the SP-10.

Counterintuitively, these boxes are being targeted at consumers, but they’re designed for datacentres; they’re provided in a 1.25u rack-mountable server format.

“Later on, we will serve to vendors like CloudHashing, or whoever wants this very dense miner. Then we will develop special software for the datacentre,” Corem said.

For now, though, he’s focusing on making the box consumer friendly, with a user interface designed for newcomers.

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