By JACOB DONNELLY
Bitmain, the bitcoin mining ASIC provider, announced today that it has launched its fourth-generation ASIC, the BM1385. This chip, the company claims, can generate a 45 percent increase in hashrate while needing 50 percent less electricity than its former chip, the BM1384.
“The problem at the heart of designing chips for bitcoin mining 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,” said a Bitmain chip designer in a statement.
According to the company, the BM1385 can attain 32.5 gigahash per second at a power consumption of 0.216 watts/gigahash-second using 0.66V. This chip was built on the 28-nanometer process of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC); the company felt that it could outperform chips that were built on 14 and 16 nanometer process nodes that didn’t have full custom design techniques.
“The BM1385 chip represents more than six months of full time research and development work from our chip design team, so it required a significant effort to produce. This being our first full-custom chip design, it took a lot more work than previous chips we’ve put out,” said Bitmain Head of North AMerica Jake Smith.
Full custom design is an arduous process whereby the engineers have to lay each individual transistor inside the chip. However, while the creation process is more intensive and involves higher risk of failure at tape-out, the finished chips are able to do far more with less electricity.
“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 Jihan Wu.
Bitmain has grown very aggressive with releasing its previous chips. Its BMI1380, which was used in the AntMiner S1, was released in Q4 2013. Its BM1382 and BM1384 came out in Q2 and Q4 of 2014 respectively. This is the fourth chip in two years that Bitmain has released. When Bitmain announces the launch of its AntMiner S7, it will use this BM1385 chip.
“A few of our competitors have also announced chips with similar power efficiencies; even though they won’t be selling these they will also have an effect on the network. This will probably cause hashrate to increase, and also make a lot of older, less power-efficient miners become obsolete,” added Smith.