Texas-based Bitcoin hardware shop Cointerra has shipped the first batch of its TerraMiner IV $6,000 Bitcoin mining boxes. At a ceremony held at their Texas office they handed one over to local customer Jake Gostylo.
As is traditional for Bitcoin hardware it’s late and below the advertised specification. Yet unlike many of their rivals it’s not that late and even at the sub-par spec it’s still very impressive, at under $3 per GH. First shipments were due in December.
All customers who ordered for the December deadline have now received what has come to be known as "Batch 1" kit, with the original January (Batch 2) customers receiving their gear over the next couple of weeks. Customers who ordered boxes for February and beyond should get the miners on time.
Everyone who received a late "Batch One" machine will get another box (expected to be fully specced) free of charge, says the company.
The Terraminer's performance is down on the promised 2TH/s, with claims that the current production boxes have been tested at between 1.63TH/s (terahashes per second) and 1.72TH/s. They draw between 1900w and 2100w – again, up on the predicted 1650w. It’s still the first self-contained unit to ship at over 1TH/s and that gives it the lowest price per gigahash.
Cointerra won’t be drawn on return on investment but a quick calculation using the Genesis Block estimates it’s well within the month, probably three weeks. Of course, this is subject to changes in difficulty and the value of Bitcoins.
Cointerra is planning a board redesign to get Batch Three and beyond miners up to 2TH/s but the economics of mining are such that customers are much better off having a 1.7TH/s box now than a 2.0TH/s box in a month. This tweaking and improving is normal; when KnC shipped they were at 425GH/s and are now shipping at 600GH/s.
Ravi Iyengar, the founder and CEO of the firm said that the pressure they put on the foundry was immense, going from tape out on 8 November to packaged, tested silicon in hand on 28 December was unprecedented. It’s normal to tape out, order a few engineering wafers, test and then have a production run a few months later. Cointerra ordered hundreds of engineering wafers to expedite the process.
Ravi is proud of how upfront they have been with their customers. He says he wants to bring some of the traditional semiconductor decorum to the “Wild West” of Bitcoin silicon, and this is mirrored in the hardware, which is all one box ready for rack-mounting or with feet. Most other Bitcoin hardware expects you to source your own processor board (typically a Raspberry Pi), power supply and sort out the cooling.
Iyengar told The Reg via email: "The January batch is shipped in Jan and will continue through Feb (relatively speaking we are not that late, when you compare with other Bitcoin companies). We are somewhat under spec, but the improvements we are working on in the lab have shown improved performance getting us closer to the advertised system performance.”
“Another key thing to note,” added Iyengar, “is that our GoldStrike1 ASIC itself is very high performance and meets and exceeds the published spec. It is the board level power circuit inefficiencies which reduced the overall performance marginally. However, as stated above we are getting closer and closer to the spec with improvements that we are doing on the board."
Cointerra has, however, demurred requests to ship their box with a plain black front panel so that data centre staff can slip it into a rack at work to take advantage of their employer’s power and cooling.
We've heard from readers who've received their boxes. ®