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MicroBT Announces Whatsminer M50 Series at BTC2022

Whatsminer M50s
Whatsminer M50s Official Launch Video, Source: MicroBT Press Release

During Bitcoin 2022, Bitcoin mining rig manufacturer MicroBT shared details on its forthcoming M50 series of Whatsminer machines.

In a recorded video played on the mining stage at Bitcoin 2022, Jordan Chen, COO of MicroBT, producer of the Whatsminer series of bitcoin mining rigs, shared details about the company’s new M50 series of miners: the M50s, M50 and M53.

The M50 series is expected to run at a higher power for longer periods of time than previous rigs in the Whatsminer series. The M50s, for instance, is air-cooled and powered by a 5 nm processor from Samsung that can deliver up to 15% better efficiency than existing series models. It can deliver 126 terahashes per second (TH/s) of mining power at an efficiency of 26 joules per terahash (J/T), according to a MicroBT press release sent to Bitcoin Magazine.

The Whatsminer M50s. Source: MicroBT press release.

The air-cooled M50 is expected to deliver 114 TH/s, with 29 J/T efficiency, running on 3,306 watts of power. And the hydro-cooled M53 series hosts 226 TH/s of computing power at 29 J/T.

The Whatsminer M53. Source: MicroBT press release.
The Whatsminer M50. Source: MicroBT press release.

MicroBT also framed the M50 series as a stronger entrance into emerging epicenters for Bitcoin mining like North America, which has seen a surge in its share of the Bitcoin network’s overall hash rate since regulators in China began cracking down on miners there last year.

“To support more customers from North America and newly-emerging areas, MicroBT is capable of producing and shipping over 30,000 pieces per month from its production site located in Southeast Asia this year,” according to the release.

MicroBT announced that each of the models in the series will be available for shipping beginning in the third quarter of this year.

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Unfused Power Distribution FAQ

We tend to receive the most questions from our customers about power distribution units which do not feature internal fusing for each output. This guide is written in hope of answering those questions before they are sent to our contact form. However, if you do have any questions after reading this guide, feel free to reach out.

Does Each Miner Have Access to the Entire Breaker Capacity?

The simple answer: No.

The more complex answer: Due to the complexity, and engineering work put into ASIC machines such as Antminers, the power supplies have built-in protections.

The first and most important of which, is an internal fuse. This fuse is connected directly to the live leads of the C14 inlet plug, meaning that once the fuse has blown, there is no physical electrical connection between the miner and the wire. This fuse is wrapped in heat shrink, and is placed in close proximity to the C14 inlet inside the power supply. We have disassembled a Bitmain APW9++ Power supply from an Antminer S17+ in order to showcase these fuses.

Top View

Fuses circled in red.

APW9++ Power Supply Full Photo

Fuse 1

First Fuse inside power Supply

Fuse 2

This guide does not focus on how to replace the fuses are blown, but Bitmain offers resources to help with this in their Ant Academy Training Center.

We are showing these photos to demonstrate that even without a fuse inside the PDU, your wires are still protected from overcurrent by your miners. Some PDUs, such as our RT, and RS series PDUs will still feature fused outlets for redundancy and to protect against misuse. This however, adds cost to the PDU, so it is up the miner and his budget to choose what is best.

Is There Surge Protection?

Unfused PDUs are protected against current surges (through the fuses in your miner), but not voltage spikes. In the modern North American power grid, especially in urban areas, power surges are few and far between. This means that surge (voltage spike) protection is generally a safeguard that is not necessary. Voltages surges are most commonly caused by direct lightning strikes to your house, as strikes to a power pole will take out the transformer before making it to your house.

In the case that surge protection is required, we do offer surge protected PDUs, see the RS and RT series, or contact us.

What If a Cable Exceeds its Ampacity?

Generally, a cable exceeding its ampacity, which on the SQ series is 13A, would be caused by misuse of the the PDU. For example, a user adapts a C13 cable to a C19 cable to power an Avalonminer, drawing 14.25A through the cable. This would cause the copper inside the cable to heat up, but in the event that it were to heat up enough to melt it, the first point of failure would be inside the PDU, in the connection. This is by design.

The casing of the PDU is connected to ground for safety, meaning that if any live wires were to touch it, they would be grounded to reduce shock. Additionally, if the connection were to melt and make a dead short (close to no resistance) with ground, the breaker would trip nearly instantaneously.

According to the table found here, 16AWG wire used in the outputs of the has an effective electrical resistance of 13.4 Ω/km. This means that at a voltage of 240V, the wire will attempt to draw an extremely large amount of current for a single cycle (1/60 of a second), and trip the breaker (no matter its ampacity).

Conclusion

So are unfused PDUs safe to use in your home or workshop? The TDLR is YES, as long as the PDUs are used only with mining equipment, and the current draw for each cable does not exceed its specification.

Happy Mining!

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How to Set up Your Home’s Electrical for Mining

Introduction

During Bitcoin’s infant years, it was relatively easy for anyone to run software on a computer and get hashing. Any old Dell Optiplex with a half decent CPU would have been able mine enough Bitcoin for you to be set for life, assuming you’d held on to it until now.

Such times however, are a thing of the past. With the introduction of GPUs, FPGAs, and finally ASICs, Bitcoin mining has only been getting more difficult, and in turn more power hungry. Nowadays, there are few electronic devices that can suck as much power from the wall as an Antminer S19. With power draw figures often well in excess of 3kW and noise levels to match the runway at heathrow, it’s been clear that manufacturers like Bitmain have been targeting the datacenter rather than the home.

Despite the shift from home to industrial scale operations, some of us are stubborn and choose to continue hashing ourselves. Whether it’s a source of free heat in the garage, a subsidization of rent, or just simply a hobby, some estimates put the fraction of the network’s hash rate at over 20% for small-scale operations (<1 PH). While 20% does seem like a lot, we believe that it isn’t enough. For true decentralization, the block rewards should be divided among as many parties as possible. That is why we are creating a series of home mining tutorials that will cover the largest challenges one might face, including acquisition of hardware, noise management, the true cost of power, and electrical distribution.

The 120V Problem

Anybody with basic knowledge of the power grid knows that the voltage from the wall here in North America is 120V, a small figure compared to the rest of the world’s 220, 240 and even 250V systems. And while you may think that this was done for safety, it actually was an emergence from the Edison vs. Tesla fight over AC and DC power. Whatever the reason for our mains voltage, all that matters is that it isn’t great for mining.

Back in the 2017 bull run days, Antminer S9s could run on 120V, meaning they could be plugged right into the wall anywhere in your home. Even if it was possible though, it wouldn’t have been a very great idea as running them on 240V would reduce the input current by half. This saves on wiring costs and significantly the fire risk of the operation, and is why you should never run your mining operation on 120V.

Now, Bitmain and the other ASIC hardware manufacturers have made the choice for you anyways with their switch to 208V+ only with new ASIC models. Among other reasons, this switch was made because a standard 120V household outlet can no longer even supply enough current to run them. 240V is needed to run anything newer than an S9 or L3, and recommended for all machines regardless. But how could one get 240V in a house with 120V wiring?

Center-Tapped Neutral Diagram

Above is a diagram showing how your home’s electricity actually works. It turns out that we do actually use 240V here in North America. In fact, your home likely already has multiple appliances that operate on 240V, including your dryer, hot water heater and stove/oven (sometimes also called a range). Technically speaking, your home operates on a ‘single phase, three-wire’ system. Where you have 2 120V lines (also called hot legs), and a neutral. Where the alternating currents in the hot legs are 180 degrees out of phase, making the potential between them 240V.

Powering Miners with 240V

In the best case, you have an open 240V, high amperage outlet already somewhere in your house or garage that you can just plug right into and get mining. This unfortunately isn’t usually the case as these outlets are already occupied by your appliances, as wiring high amperage outlets all around a house is not exactly cheap, not to mention that even if they are free, they aren’t always in the spot where you plan to run your ASICs. What generally has to happen, is that you will need to get one installed, either DIY, or by an electrician if you’re not comfortable with electrical work.

Before selecting an outlet for mining, you must first find out your the current that your miners will be drawing in Amps. This can be done using the formula:

P = I * V

Where ‘P’ is Total power, ‘V’ is input voltage (240V) and ‘I’ is Amperage. Simplified, this means that your input current will be the sum of all your miners’ power draws, divided by 240. Below is a table showing the current draws on 240V for commonly used miners for reference:

 Miner ModelPower Draw (W)Current Draw at 240 V (A)
Antminer S913505.63
Antminer S17252010.5
Antminer S19325013.5
Antminer L7342514.3
Antminer E9255610.7

Once you have calculated the total amperage of your mining equipment, the next step will be to sort out your power distribution.

The 80% Rule

The 80% rule is a rule of thumb in the mining community that dictates amount of power that should be run through a circuit breaker. Because of the continuous heavy current that ASIC miners draw, they can often flip a breaker even if they don’t theoretically use enough power to do so. Why? I’ll save you the science behind how a breaker works, but the TLDR is that household breakers are designed for household applications, Where the load is drawn intermittently rather than consistently. Below is a table showing the usable ampacity for each commonly available breaker type for your reference:

 Breaker Ampacity (A)Usable Ampacity for Mining (A)Usable Wattage at 240V (W)
15122880
20163840
30245760
40327680
50409600

As you can see, following the 80% rule does significantly decrease your per-circuit capacity, but following it is a must in order to avoid flipping breakers, downtime, and even fire hazards.

Selecting Circuit Ampacity

Choosing the Ampacity of your mining circuit is a balancing act between cost reduction and fire risk reduction. In a perfect system, each cable being fed to a miner would have its own independent circuit and breaker, so that the amperage running through the cable could never exceed it’s rating. However, this is impractical as circuit breakers are not only very expensive, but the cost of a breaker panel increases with more slots for breakers. Additionally, as home miner, simply installing a new breaker into an existing panel is much preferred over having to upgrade the whole panel.

The solution to this problem comes in the form of power distribution units (PDUs). PDUs have a large wire as the input, and have many smaller outputs to power mining equipment. This reduces breaker, panel, and installation costs, as significantly fewer breakers are needed inside the panel. Selecting a PDU can be a complex process, but making the right choice will both save you money, and reward you with bulletproof reliability, so we’ve made a guide for that:

How to Choose a PDU for Crypto Mining

Placement of Miners

So you’ve figured out your miners’ current draw, and have chosen the PDU that suits you the best. Now time to wire everything up. You’re likely thinking of the exact spot you’re going to build your mining farm already, but there are still a few things to consider.

The first consideration to make is one of cost. In order to get the power from your breaker panel to your miners, you’ll need some thicc wire, and copper does not come cheap. This means that it is best to place your mining farm as close to your existing electrical panel as possible in order to not blow the budget on wire.

The next consideration is one of reliability. One detail that many newbie miners miss, is that circuit breakers are quite sensitive to heat. If your miners’ exhausts are aimed in the general direction of your breaker panel, the breakers will be heated by the miners and will likely trip at a much lower temperature than intended. Heat management for home mining will be covered in one of our future home mining guides.

Final Word

From my newbie days of mining in 2012 and the majority of people getting into mining on the recent bull runs, it seems as though the electrical configuration for mining with anything more than a single S9 is one of the most mystifying parts of getting into mining. By creating this guide, we hope to solve some of the FAQs that we normally get in our contact forms. We wish you and all of your machines the best of luck in finding blocks!

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How to Choose a PDU for Crypto Mining

Selecting a PDU is a more complex process than many may imagine. There are so many variations that depend on the needs of the buyer, which is why there isn’t really a single go-to solution. These needs are described in the sections below:

The 80% Rule

The 80% rule is a rule of thumb in the mining community that dictates amount of power that should be run through a circuit breaker. Because of the continuous heavy current that ASIC miners draw, they can often flip a breaker even if they don’t theoretically use enough power to do so. Why? I’ll save you the science behind how a breaker works, but the TLDR is that household breakers are designed for household applications, Where the load is drawn intermittently rather than consistently. Below is a table showing the usable ampacity for each commonly available breaker type for your reference:

 Breaker Ampacity (A)Usable Ampacity for Mining (A)Usable Wattage at 240V (W)
15122880
20163840
30245760
40327680
50409600

As you can see, following the 80% rule does significantly decrease your per-circuit capacity, but following it is a must in order to avoid flipping breakers, downtime, and even fire hazards.

Converting Watts/Volts/Amps

Many who aren’t familiar with electrical calculations get confused about amps vs. volts vs. watts. Don’t be alarmed if you are as well, as all three unit types are quite simple to understand.

One common method to gain understanding is to think of an electrical wire as a pipe, and the electricity flowing through it as a fluid. With this model, the “speed” of the fluid would represent voltage, and the “pressure” of the fluid would represent amperage. The combined result of the 2 would be the amount of fluid flowing, which would represent amperage.

This model helps us understand the formula:

P = I * V

Where P represents Power in Watts, I represents amperage in Amps, and V represents Voltage in Volts. This formula can be manipulated to calculate any electrical specification needed to wire up your PDUs and miners.

If you don’t know what voltage powers your mining facility, you can always ask your electrician, or measure it yourself by using a multimeter. Most Canadian and American homes operate on 120/240V, but in rare cases such as high density residential, the voltage is 120/208V.

Single Phase vs. Three Phase

Choosing whether you need a single or three-phase PDU isn’t always as simple as finding out what power comes out our your transformer/into your facility. There are a few things to consider that can save you a both a hassle and money.

The first, is that having 3 phase power does not necessarily create a need for a three-phase PDU. You can simply use single phase PDUs hooked up from phase to phase, or from phase to neutral. This can be beneficial if the phases need specific balancing, and can save some cost. For example, you have a large load already present on one of your phases and need to balance it out with a load from your miners on the other phases. Additionally, it may in some cases be less expensive to buy three single-phase PDUs vs a single three-phase PDU, especially if you already have existing single phase wiring in place.

Rated Amperage (Single-Phase)

The right amperage for your PDU will depend entirely on which ASIC miners you plan to power. Since the calculations must consider a number of factors, we have devised some tables with the most common voltages for mining in North America for your convenience:

208V:

 AmpacityWattage (80%)1st Gen2nd Gen3rd Gen
304992421
508320632
6310483843
80133121054
125208001586

240V:

 AmpacityWattage (80%)1st Gen2nd Gen3rd Gen
305760422
509600743
6312096954
80153601165
125240001897

LEGEND:

  • 1st Gen: Antminer S9 etc. (~1350W)
  • 2nd Gen: Antminer S17 etc. (~2550W)
  • 3rd Gen: Antminer S19 etc. (~3250W)

Rated Amperage (Three-Phase)

This portion of the guide covers 3 phase PDUs that operate from Phase to Phase. For 3 phase PDUs that operate on phase to neutral, you can simply use single phase calculations, and multiply the wattage result by 3.

When PDUs are wired phase to phase, the amperage equivalent must be multiplied by the square root of 3. Like the previous section, we’ll save you the hassle, and include a table for the common 120/208V Delta or Wye system:

208/120V:

 AmpacityWattage (80%)1st Gen2nd Gen3rd Gen
308646632
50144111064
63181571375
80230571797
12536027271411

LEGEND:

  • 1st Gen: Antminer S9 etc. (~1350W)
  • 2nd Gen: Antminer S17 etc. (~2550W)
  • 3rd Gen: Antminer S19 etc. (~3250W)

Surge Protection

A power surge is defined as:

“A fast, short duration electrical transient in voltage (voltage spikes), current (current spikes), or transferred energy (energy spikes) in an electrical circuit”, Wikipedia

A power surge can be caused by many factors including lightning, infrastructure failure, static electricity, and many more. A PDU with surge protection protects against voltage surges. This means that its internal surge protector will either short (providing a path of least resistance for the surge), or open (disconnecting the circuit entirely) when a surge in voltage that exceeds its safe threshold.

Surge protection is useful for regions with “dirty” power where outages and infrastructure failure are common. While miners do have some integrated protection against current spikes, a voltage surge that goes unprotected can easily kill your miners’ power supplies and in some cases, even the hash boards and control boards.

The conclusion: surge protection is generally only needed when mining in a rural area. When mining inside an urban area such as at home, or in an industrial park, the power generally stays well within safe levels, meaning that surge protection is an extra cost that isn’t necessary, but can still be chosen for peace of mind.

Main Breaker

Some PDUs include a main breaker. This means that they have an integrated breaker for additional protection. Generally, PDUs are attached to a circuit that already has a breaker in the panel, so why would one need a PDU with another breaker?

PDUs with an integrated breaker are often only used with a circuit that has a larger breaker in the main panel. For example, you have a circuit that has a single 100A breaker in the panel, and the circuit has 2 50A outlets. In this use case, PDUs with an integrated breaker would be a smart addition in order to ensure that the input wire and plug of the PDU (which would be rated for 50A) never exceed 50A in total.

Individual Fusing

Some PDUs offer individual fusing for each miner. This means that each outlet will be ensured to never exceed its specified Ampacity.  This option provides the utmost safety for your facility and mining equipment. However, the main disadvantage is that these PDUs are generally very cost prohibitive and hard to come by for smaller ampacity PDUs. Read more about unfused PDUs here.

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Bitmain Announces AntRack Series ASICs

Bitmain AntRack

Earlier this month, Bitmain announced a new rack-style mining hardware – AntRack. With features customized for large-scale deployment, Bitmain developed this new product to empower its clients to explore more potentials for their operations. https://www.youtube.com/embed/mzH3KMPak1w?feature=oembed

AntRack adopts a pioneering hot-swappable modularized configuration. The hash board, control panel, power supply unit (PSU), and fans, are essential parts that are hot-swappable for optimized operations. 

The hot-swappable design makes it a perfect fit for large-scale facilities, as it ensures the convenience to upgrade while maintaining eco-friendly operations. Once the AntRack is installed, owners can easily replace all the essential parts without powering down. When the new generation chipsets are released, the current hash boards can be easily replaced with the latest ones, effectively upgrading the current AntRack with the most efficient hash rates and power efficiency. Thus, it significantly reduces the human and resource consumption into new hardware, ensuring an eco-friendly operation. https://www.youtube.com/embed/EhuXO8Y2paM?feature=oembed

To ensure mining operations are uninterrupted, and maximization of ROI is achieved. The AntRack adopts a 3+1 redundant operation power supply unit, bringing a total of 12+4 redundant operation for the entire rack, which is all hot-swappable, avoiding potential losses caused by power failure.

AntRack Redundant PSU

As an all-in-one rack-style miner, AntRack can be deployed quickly and conveniently.AntRack can easily be deployed and operational once its 3-phase AC power cable and network cable are plugged in, and the inlet & outlet for the water-cooling unit are set.

AntRack Easy Set-up Configuration

Knowing customers will have potential requests for large-scale placement, Bitmain provides an all-in-one data center solution – ANTBOX, that can house 10 AntRacks. This is a customized solution and can be designed per the client’s requests. It delivers all the advantages of AntRack into one package – eco-friendly, easy to deploy, upgradable, and reliable. By configuring the 3-phase AC power supply, network port, and water-cooling system, mining is possible in almost every location.

AntRack AntBox Solutions

Several water sources can be used on the condition that the water requirements are met, such as purified water sources from lakes and rivers. Utilizing the traditional cooling tower system is another option for other situations.

AntRack Water Cooling Unit Requirements

The main parameters of AntRack are as following:

AntRack Parameters

AntRack is a perfect fit for large-scale deployment of mining farms and data centers. 

Bitmain adheres to the user-friendly principle. By actively challenging the market and technological innovation, Bitmain strives to bring better products and services that can truly solve problems for our customers. AntRack yet again proves Bitmain’s determination and commitment.

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What is SHA-256 ASICBoost

Dall-E programatically generated Cryptography Image

SHA-256 ASICBoost is a technique that allows ASIC miners to improve their efficiency by up to 30%, allowing them to mine Bitcoin more profitably than without the technique. It is a controversial technique because it can give an unfair advantage to miners who use it, and it has a history of being shrouded in secrecy and patent disputes. In this article, we will delve deeper into the history of SHA-256 ASICBoost and its impact on the Bitcoin mining industry.

Discovery

The technique was first discovered in 2016 by a team of researchers, including Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell. The researchers found that by tweaking the way that ASIC miners perform the SHA-256 hashing algorithm, they could reduce the number of gate operations required, thus increasing the miner’s efficiency. The researchers dubbed the technique “ASICBoost” and released a paper detailing the technique, which quickly sparked interest within the Bitcoin mining community.

Controversy / Patent Disputes

However, the technique was not without controversy. The researchers found that the technique could be implemented in two different ways: “overt” and “covert” ASICBoost. Overt ASICBoost is a technique that can be implemented by any miner, regardless of the ASIC chip they are using. However, covert ASICBoost requires a specific and proprietary modification to the ASIC chip, which gives the miner a significant advantage over other miners who do not have access to the modification.

This sparked a patent dispute between the researchers and Bitmain, who was accused of using the covert ASICBoost technique without permission. Bitmain denied the accusations, but the controversy led to a split within the Bitcoin community, with some supporting the use of the technique and others opposing it.

The debate over the use of ASICBoost reached a boiling point in 2017, when a group of miners who supported the use of the technique proposed a soft fork to the Bitcoin network that would have allowed them to continue using the technique. The proposal was met with strong opposition from other members of the community, and the soft fork was ultimately not implemented.

Mass Adoption

Today, the use of SHA-256 ASICBoost is still a controversial topic within the Bitcoin mining community. While the technique has been widely adopted by the industry, the patent dispute and the debate over its use have left a lasting impact on the industry. Regardless of one’s stance, it’s clear that SHA-256 ASICBoost was a necessary step in the evolution of the mining industry.

In conclusion, SHA-256 ASICBoost is a technique that allows ASIC miners to improve their efficiency by up to 30%. It has a history of secrecy, patent disputes and controversy. While the use of the technique is largely phased out, it has had a significant impact on the Bitcoin mining industry, raising concerns about centralization and fair competition. The history of SHA-256 ASICBoost serves as a reminder of the need for transparency and open communication within the industry, as well as the importance of finding a balance between efficiency and fairness.

Products in SHA-256 Mining

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ASIC Mining and the Centralization of Mining Power

ASIC Mining Stock Photo of a Bitfarms Mine

ASIC mining, or the use of application-specific integrated circuits, has become a prevalent method for mining various cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin. These specialized devices, designed specifically for mining, offer significant advantages over traditional CPU and GPU mining methods. They are significantly more energy-efficient and offer much higher hash rates, making them much more profitable for miners. However, the rise of ASIC mining has also led to a significant centralization of mining power, which has raised concerns about the security and decentralization of the blockchain.

The Rise of ASIC Mining

One of the biggest advantages of ASIC mining is its efficiency. These devices are designed specifically to perform the complex mathematical calculations required for mining and can do so at a much faster rate than traditional CPUs and GPUs. This allows miners to earn more rewards for the same amount of energy consumed, making it a more profitable endeavor.

However, this efficiency also comes with a downside. ASICs are significantly more expensive than traditional mining equipment, and the economies of scale mean that only large companies with significant capital and resources can afford to invest in them. This has led to a significant concentration of mining power in the hands of a few large companies, which has raised concerns about the decentralization of the blockchain.

Centralization of Power

The centralization of mining power can have significant implications for the security of the blockchain. With a few large companies controlling a significant portion of the mining power, they have the ability to exert significant influence over the network. For example, they could potentially collude to carry out a 51% attack, where they control more than 50% of the network’s mining power and can manipulate the network’s consensus.

Additionally, the centralization of mining power can also lead to increased centralization of wealth and power. With a small number of large companies controlling the majority of the mining power, they are able to earn the majority of the rewards, leading to a concentration of wealth among a small group of people.

Some projects have developed ASIC-resistant algorithms, which are designed to make it more difficult for ASICs to dominate the network.

In conclusion, ASIC mining offers significant advantages over traditional mining methods, making it more profitable for miners. However, the rise of ASIC mining has also led to a significant centralization of mining power, which has raised concerns about the security and decentralization of the blockchain. It’s important to find a balance between mining efficiency and decentralization, as well as to keep an eye on new developments such as PoS algorithms and ASIC-resistant algorithms to ensure the security and decentralization of the blockchain.