It's spade sellers who REALLY make a killing in a gold rush: It's OVER for graphics card mining

New Litecoin hardware means alt miners will ditch their packs


If you’ve been mining "low-price Bitcoin wannabe" Litecoins with a rig of graphics cards, now is the time to shuffle them off to eBay – unless you can find a better use for them.

Chinese chip manufacturer Innosilicon is now selling its “A2 Terminator”, a 28nm ASIC for mining Litecoins. It follows on the heels of its A1 offering, a Bitcoin ASIC.

The A2 is capable of 1.8 mega hashes per second (MH/s) at only 13W power consumption, and Innosilicon configures this to 88MH/s per box performance with a 750W power supply. That means one A2 ASIC will beat the best GPU graphics card in the world by almost twice the performance yet consumes 40 times less power. All this means nothing, though, if you're spending more on power than you're making on the transactions.

Chips and miners are now being sold with chips at $199 each and miners at $12k but this is aimed at resellers who will order at least 20 miners at a time.

Innosilicon has beaten rival ASIC-pusher KnC Miner to be the first to ship a Litecoin chip, with the KnC Titian being listed as coming in “Q2/Q3” this year, and costing $5,495 for a 150MH/s box.

At the time of writing, Litecoin were trading at $9.85 each but more typically people mining Litecoin exchange them for Bitcoins and arbitrage the difference in the relative growth in complexity of Litecoin and Bitcoin. The arms race from the introduction of Litecoin hardware will soon make graphics card mining uneconomic.

We’ve seen exactly the same path taken by Bitcoin, which went from processor mining, to graphics card GPU mining to custom ASICs, and we are now seeing a battle between the manufacturers of Bitcoin ASICs.

Litecoin appears to be taking the same route. People who had been using the GPUs on graphics cards switched to Litecoin when the Bitcoin difficulty made the approach uneconomical. There are other alternative currencies which might have some mileage for graphics cards, but this really does feel like the end of the road for the approach.

You thought the BITCOIN market was unstable? Amateur

While people keep Bitcoins, they seem more likely to trade Litecoins – which makes the market even more unstable. Bitcoins peaked at over $1,000 a coin but for the past month have been unusually stable at between $450 and $500. This reduces the arbitrage opportunities as the Litecoin difficulty also increases and what is necessary for Litecoin to be economic is a lag between the rate at which Bitcoin and Litecoin difficulty increases coupled with a rise in the value of Bitcoins.

Despite Nvidia claiming that it is growth in gaming that has led to its recent better-than-expected fourth quarter results, there must be a significant level of mining in these figures and the move to ASICs can only serve to cool the sales of the very fastest graphics cards. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022