Bitmain, the world leader in mining equipment, has finally announced their next generation Bitcoin mining ASIC leveraging 7nm technology. At a purported efficiency of 42J/TH. Bitmain did not release a date, name, or official details about the power consumption of the miner. The announcement was made at the World Digital Mining Summit 2018 being held in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The Bitmain 7nm Miner
This is about 2.3x more efficient than its predecessor, the S9 (excluding the S9 hydro). While a measure of total hash rate is important to determine how much coin will be printed in a given period, the efficiency stands as the true measure of profitability – how well can you use the presumably limited supply of electricity at your disposal?
If the units were to have the exact same electrical draw as their predecessors – roughly 1340 Watts – then the miners would be expected to have a hash rate of 32 TH/s, compared to the 14 TH/s of your 2017-vintage S9i. Higher electrical draw would yield a higher hash rate proportional to the increase. Here’s a brief snapshot of what the hash rate might be based on what the power draw is:
|Potential Power Draw (W)||Expected Hash Rate (TH/s)|
We at the Miners’ Union don’t think it’s likely that the power draw will fall too far outside this range, as Bitmain has extensive infrastructure set up to support the global distribution of their current power supply units (recall that if there are 5 million plus antminers out there, there are sure to be almost that many power supplies). As the APW3++ Bitmain PSUs are rated for 1600W on a 220V outlet, we don’t think we’ll see power draws much larger than that making even the bottom of the above table unlikely.
Some speculate that some number of these units are already contributing to the hash rate which may explain some of the dramatic spikes in hash rate seen over the past few months. That continued exponential growth could also just be the steady incorporation of existing units.
What is 7nm Finfet?
In the semiconductor manufacturing jargon, 7nm or “seven nanometer” is the latest technology node for producing computer chips. 7nm is related to the distances between transistors on a chip, where smaller distances allow electrons to travel faster between transistors as there is less physical space to travel. “Finfet” refers to a fin, field-effect transistor which is a style of transistor in which they resemble fins.
IBM first developed the 7nm technology in 2015 in a lab setting. Apple recently announced the inclusion of 7nm chips in its A12 bionic chips in the new iPhones announced last week. Bitmain is the second major use case for 7nm chips.
Is the Bitmain 7nm Miner Real?
Some have suggested that since no prototype unit was displayed at the World Digital Mining Summit, that the announcement may amount to little more than a publicity stunt. Over the past few months there has been speculation of decline at Bitmain, justified by…
- A potentially unsuccessful IPO. You might have become aware of Bitmain’s intention to IPO when their policy was changed to collect KYC information from their clients.
- Departure of core hardware engineering talent to found rival Whatsminer.
- Previous failed tape-outs for smaller chips at 10nm and 7nm.
We think it would be pretty foolish to either prematurely or deceptively make an announcement as profound as this one if it were not true. That being said, the lack of the specs and release date could indicate that they are further from releasing the units than they’d have you believe.
What does this mean for the Bitcoin Network?
As we’ve stated in the past, there are a LOT of miners out there given a Bitcoin hash rate greater than 50 EH/s. When these new units are released, it’s a certainty that they’ll be making more for their owners than the previous generation of hardware. This doesn’t mean if you are still using an S9 you should shut it down today! Here’s why:
- There is still no release date. Expect the status quo to persist at least until Bitmain brings Batch 1 online for testing, which usually coincides with the date first purchasable. You can see an example of what this process looks like by looking at hte historical Dash hash rate.
- Even when they come online, it will take a significant amount of units to drown out the existing infrastructure. Each new unit will grow the hash rate 2.3x faster than each S9, but you’re still talking about sunsetting and replacing nearly 5 million units.
- The price of Bitcoin may move with the introduction of this new hardware. Perhaps we’ll collect formal evidence as part of a future blog post, but we at the Miners’ Union suspect that introduction of new hardware has a measurable effect on price given the rapid introduction of new participants to the ecosystem.
When Bitmain does announce the release date of the new units, we’ll be ready to host them. Be sure to keep the Miners’ Union in mind for all of your colocation needs!