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Bitcoin announced Wednesday the company’s fourth-generation bitcoin mining ASIC chip named the BM1385.
Bitmain, the bitcoin mining ASIC provider, reports that the BM1385 chip was produced on the 28-nanometer process of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.
Bitmain further stated that the chips utilize a full-custom design process, and that each chip can attain a hashrate of 32.5 billion hashes per second (GH/s). When powered with a core voltage of 0.66V, the chips have a power efficiency of 0.216 watts per gigahash-second, making it the most power-efficient bitcoin mining chip ever released to public.
Bitmain went on to indicate that the BM1385 chip will be used in the S7 model of the company’s well-known line of mining machines, Antminer. Though the Antminer S7 is still in development, Bitmain expects that the next-gen chip will be available for consumer purchase in the near future.
“The problem at the heart of designing chips for bitcoin mining,” said Bitmain chip designer and CEO, Micree, “is the careful balance of performance with electrical consumption. With lower power consumption, miners have lower electricity bills, or they can increase their hashrate without increasing their power expense.”
Since its founding in 2013, Bitmain has successively released three other generations of chips. The first was the BM1380, which utilized a 55 nanometer process node size. After that came the 28 nanometer BM1382, and then the 28 nanometer, semi-custom BM1384 chip.
The new BM1385 chip is Bitmain’s first to feature a full custom design. It means that the chip engineers have to meticulously lay out each and every transistor inside the chip. This process requires significantly more time and effort than semi-custom chip designs, but can also result in faster processing, lower power consumption, and greater density of transistors.
A well-designed full custom chip can attain massive performance gains over digital design and semi-custom design, but along with greatly increased investment required in engineer labor and time, there is a much higher risk that the chip will fail at tape-out — a very costly mistake.
Bitmain concluded through internal research that a full-custom 28 nanometer chip could greatly outperform chips built on 14 and 16 nanometer process nodes without the use of full custom design techniques.
The BM1385 chip powered at 0.66V can attain a 32.5 gigahash per second hash rate at a power consumption of 0.216 watts per gigahash second. When compared to the BM1384, Bitmain’s newest generation of chip has a 45% greater hashrate, while simultaneously consuming 50% less electricity.
This has potentially huge implications for the bitcoin mining industry, as it can significantly reduce electricity costs of miners. Compared with other chips utilized in the current generation of bitcoin mining machines, the BM1385 is, by a wide margin, the most advanced chip available.
At the time that Bitmain’s previous generation of chip, the BM1384, was released, it was also the most powerful and efficient chip available. Releasing a new generation of cutting-edge chip in such quick succession only helps to solidify Bitmain’s strong position in the IC-design and bitcoin mining industries.
“We anticipate that before we release our full-custom 16 nanometer chip, the BM1385 will continue to be the industry standard for the bitcoin mining industry,” said Bitmain co-founder Wu Jihan. “We will continue to strive for more efficiency and lower costs for our customers.”
Bitmain is a Beijing-based company specializing in integrated circuit design and hardware manufacturing. They have a 200-strong team of experienced IC-designers, venture capitalists, and seasoned internet entrepreneurs. In addition to their headquarters in Beijing, the company has branch offices in Chengdu, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, and Hong Kong, and San Francisco.