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What are FPGA miners for cryptocurrency mining? Comparison of FPGA, ASIC and GPU

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A FPGA (user-programmable gate array) is a cryptocurrency mining equipment that is very similar to an ASIC except for one key feature.

  • ASIC is a chip that is hard-coded to perform one type of computation (for example, for Equihash mining).
  • An FPGA is a chip that can optionally be reprogrammed to perform any operations .

In the field of mining, you can reconfigure FPGA from Cryptonight mining to Lyra2z mining in seconds. With processors and video cards, this can also be done, but for certain reasons, FPGA runs much faster.

It is known that certain FPGA boards work 100 times better than graphics processors with the same power consumption. Depending on the algorithm, the FPGA may lag a little or not fall behind the ASICs altogether.

The principle of operation of FPGA chips

For mining on the FPGA, the bitstream is written – the chip's firmware, which indicates how the FPGA should solve the problem necessary for the mining of a particular coin. Programmed bitstream in Verilog or VHDL.

An FPGA chip is a semiconductor. Used in cases where the device is designed to perform logical operations, such as and, or, nand and others.

That is, it is a microcircuit with duplicate logical blocks connected in a circuit. They can be configured at their own discretion according to the tasks.

Equipment based on FPGA was originally designed for air cooling. With it, the working temperature of the chip reaches 100 degrees. When operating chips in such conditions, one of the leading manufacturers – the company Xilinx – gives a three-month warranty. But with immersion cooling, the chip temperature does not exceed 80 degrees.

Due to this, the entire board and all the chips that are on it work in ideal conditions for them. This significantly increases the lifetime of the chips and automatically increases the hashing rate.

Pros FPGA:

  • one FPGA card is equal in performance to 20-40 video cards, when consumed, as in 1-2 video cards;
  • FPGA flexibly moves from one algorithm to another, so no software forks can stop the work of a mining farm ;
  • It requires several times lower infrastructure costs (electrical, cooling, etc.)

Cons FPGA:

  • FPGAs are not available for mass mining, as there are fewer cards produced than the number of people willing to buy them;
  • Card programming is a time-consuming process of creating a bitstream from scratch in non-popular Verilog or VHDL languages, which has led to high development costs;
  • FPGA is much more expensive than GPU and ASIC, therefore it is suitable for large mining players rather than home farmers.

Evolution of mining equipment – from CPU, GPU, FPGA, ASIC

The history of bitcoin mining began with the use of CPU (processors) in 2009. In the summer of 2010, the rate of the first cryptocurrency rose to $ 0.08, then the mining began to generate revenue, which provoked increased competition among miners.

This led to the transition of mining to industrial rails – the use of GPU (video cards) . Video cards had a ten times faster hashing rate at a lower cost. The clear advantage of mining coins both on the CPU and on the GPU was the ability to switch from one to another, depending on the market situation.

In 2011, some enthusiasts began searching for less energy-intensive mining devices, and found FPGAs. Farms with FPGA cards were many times more productive and energy efficient, but expensive and difficult to program. In 2013, the first ASIC appeared – sharpened for the extraction of one coin, powerful and easy to use.

The mining economy has changed. The main factors of change include bear market cryptocurrency and the ever-increasing complexity of mining. Therefore, the hashing power and ease of use of the appeared ASIC determined their popularity.

The increase in the number of ASIC led to another problem – the centralization or the so-called risk of “attack 51%” of many large coins, which forces developers to change the hashing algorithms.

The big disadvantage of ASIC for miners is that in case of a change in the hashing algorithm, mining on them will be impossible, since the computational algorithm is sewn into the “stone” and cannot be changed. It remains only to buy ASIC and hope that the investment will pay off before the mining algorithm of the coin changes or the complexity of mining this coin does not rise to the skies.

GPU mining is still a working option, but the high power consumption of video cards makes mining a pointless exercise in many regions where the cost of 1 kW / h of electricity is above 7-12 cents in the current market situation. Of course, mining equipment manufacturers are thinking about whether there is an alternative to ASIC and GPU? Solution found – back to the FPGA-chips.

Comparison of FPGA miners with ASIC and GPU

FPGA (English Field Programmable Gate Array) or user-programmable gate array is one of the varieties of FPGAs (programmable logic integrated systems) – an integrated circuit that can be reconfigured for any complex computational problems.

The first FPGAs for commercial use were developed in 1985, they were used in scientific calculations, military electronics, telecommunications, video stream processing, medicine, industry, etc. In these areas, FPGAs are still used today. In the field of mining cryptocurrency FPGA can be configured to mine different coins within a second.

Unlike CPU and GPU, FPGA-card can be reprogrammed for the task solved on it. One of the most important features of FPGA for mining is reduced power consumption per unit of computing power.

If FPGAs are so versatile, why have they not yet forced ASIC out of the market? This equipment is not widely used for several reasons.

Reason one: FPGA is not easy to configure due to the flexibility and architecture of the card. They can be programmed for anything, but this requires the knowledge of unpopular low-level languages – Verilog or VHDL. And if the video card can be configured using the BIOS and miner, then the FPGA card must be programmed from scratch, and this takes time.

From this reason comes the second – the appearance of Asiki on the market. ASIC does not need to be configured, it is easy to use, and this is what most miners need. For prototyping, ASICs use FPGAs, but programming them is the task of the manufacturer, not the miner.

However, with the growing number of ASICs in large mining pools, the so-called “attack 51%” threat appeared for various coins. Then the creators of these coins began to change the algorithms in the struggle for the decentralization of the blockchain, as mentioned above.

Now FPGAs are becoming more interesting for the average miner, due to the risks associated with using ASIC. Because ASIC Antminer S9 , which at the peak of popularity cost $ 5,000 on the secondary market, can now be purchased for $ 200 with a power supply.

FPGA vs ASIC

The first thing to note is that developing FPGA is much easier. Unlike FPGAs, the ASIC design begins with a completely empty table. It does not mean that everyone will adjust the chip for mining at home. But with a base and reading the experience of others (see below), the task is theoretically feasible.

On the FPGA, you start with a large array of logic blocks, PLL, embedded RAM, I / O buffers, (de) serializers, power distribution networks, and so on. The development of the ASIC itself starts from a lower level. This means that components must be purchased or manufactured as part of a library, or individually designed for ASIC.

The next big difference is the development cycle. Simple FPGAs can be built during the day or a couple of weeks for a moderately complex project. This is exactly the cycle: development -> release -> test -> fix -> development …

A single ASIC production cycle can take several weeks (months), after which you need to integrate and test it. After tests, bugs do not fix, it is too expensive.

ASIC technology provides higher speed and lower power consumption compared to FPGA. Differences in speed between the two methods easily reach 10 times or more.

  • FPGA pluses: you can play yourself, suitable for a hobby, cheaper for one unit of goods
  • Advantages of ASIK: faster, lower consumption, many offers on the market, working out of the box.

FPGA vs video cards (GPU)

GPUs are much more powerful than CPU's in both power and hashing / watt, but due to the inherent FGPA parallelism can be about 15 times more efficient.

In general, the FPDA output is such that they consume less electricity, can be reconfigured and designed independently if you understand microelectronics. But they have:

  • high heat emission
  • devices are not suitable for novice,
  • to customize your own hands, you really need to look for materials.

Despite the higher price, ASIK will be more profitable. But for resistant to such development of coins, you can try the FPGA-miner.

Where can I buy FPGA in 2019?

The main FPGA manufacturers – Xilinx and Altera (Intel) – are located in the USA, making it harder to buy a card. Since the producers of these cards are units, it is impossible to directly purchase them to a retail buyer.

Major miners in Europe and Asia can also order cards through the American company SQRL or Cyprus COMINO, but this also presents a number of difficulties, for example, customs clearance.

Another solution – CrystalCore based on FPGA Xilinx UltraScale Plus – is offered by engineers of the Belarusian company AETTECH. The equipment is a cell with an immersion liquid, which contains from three to nine FPGA chips and other electronic components that serve the operation of these chips.

The average cost of FPGA chips varies from $ 3000-6000. The price of CrystalCore solution starts at $ 19,200, including all components.

Conclusion

FPGAs are able to provide flexibility and bring mining back to ordinary people like you and me. FPGA chips will allow you to mining almost any algorithm at any time.

Unlike ASICs, which require you to invest several thousand dollars in mining using a single algorithm, FPGAs can be a universal, comprehensive mining solution (like the GPU in the past).

Always conduct your own research and invest only at your own risk. We have made every effort to tell everything that we know about this topic. We may have simplified some aspects too much, but we hope that this article was a good presentation of mining with the help of FPGA.

I would like to know your thoughts, which you can share in the comments block below.

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Robert Kiyosaki: Bitcoin will be the future of finance, unlike real estate and gold

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Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best-selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, said real estate and gold investments cannot be the future of finance, as cryptocurrency has come into the spotlight. The entrepreneur, who several times this year called the ideal investment portfolio to invest in gold, real estate and bitcoin, now believes that only cryptocurrency will strategically win.

In an interview with Anthony Pompliano, managing partner of cryptocurrency investment company Morgan Creek Capital, Kiyosaki said that you really need to look “beyond the horizon” of the current financial situation. He admitted that it was not easy for him to understand the phenomenon of cryptocurrencies, but nevertheless he made an effort, conducted an analysis and made certain conclusions.

According to Kiyosaki, bitcoin will reach the level of 75 thousand dollars within three years.

“It is very important to understand how cryptocurrencies work, as the financial world is already starting to change. Those investors who will continue to rely on gold and real estate will find themselves outside the main changes in the sphere of global finance. ”

The entrepreneur made his forecast while on July 9 a troy ounce of gold reached almost a 9-year high (about $ 1800), if we do not take into account the accumulated inflation in the US dollar.

Meanwhile, the precious metal has not reached the historical maximum of 2011, since for this formally a troy ounce it is necessary to rise above $ 1900, but in fact – it is sure to overcome the mark of $ 2050, given the accumulated devaluation in the US currency.

Recall that entrepreneur Kim Dotkom and billionaire Mike Novogratz declared their investment preferences in the form of gold and cryptocurrencies .

Date of publication 07.15.2020
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Staking and cryptocrediting – which is more profitable than stablecoins or PoS cryptocurrencies?

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In this article, we will consider the prospects of cryptocurrency staking as a new way of passive earnings, about the differences between staking and cryptocrediting, as well as about the main platforms designed for this.

If you have not been interested in staking before, then a variety of coins and platforms that support this type of passive income can make you dizzy. And with the advent of stablecoins, the choice has become even wider. What type of coins is better in terms of profit and risk?

Cryptocurrency Staking in 2020

A year ago, cryptocurrency staking was much simpler than now. The cryptocurrency market was attended by only a few specialized platforms, a pair of popular cryptocurrencies and approximately the same rate of return.

But these times have passed: in 2020, staking has grown into a serious segment of the crypto industry for several reasons.

  • Firstly, the market now has more than 30 PoS coins that support the possibility of staking.
  • Secondly, many kriptobirzh now there own PoS-nodes – an interesting alternative to special steykingovym platforms.

Moreover, now investors are provided with staking and deposit accounts in stablecoins, which allow minimizing risk and getting profitability at the level of PoS-coins or even higher. What to choose?

To find out, you need to compare the two main options on the market (PoS coins and stablecoins), according to a number of clear criteria. However, an important reservation must first be made about the nature of staking.

Staking and cryptocrediting are not the same thing

Coins that use the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm – Tezos, Cosmos, BIP, and LOOM – initially support staking. While the value of stablecoins is tied to a specific asset – for example, to the US dollar.

Stablecoins are not available for styling, but loans – coins are issued as a loan to another user who pays a deposit in response. However, for investors there is no particular practical difference between staking and lending. That is why one can hear on the cryptocurrency market, for example, about “USDC staking”.

Real ROI and Volatility

Let us compare the return on investment in PoS coins and stablecoins and how this indicator is affected by the volatility inherent in the crypto market.

  • PoS coins . Each coin has its own nominal rate of return built into the algorithm. For example, for Cosmos (ATOM) it is 8.35%. However, a really important value is the real profitability, which is calculated on the basis of price changes for any period. For example, if you invested $ 10,000 in the stake of ATOM coins on January 1 of this year, then by June 1 you would have received a nominal income of about 3.5%. Instead of 2309 coins, you would have 2390. However, over the same period of five months, the price of a coin fell by more than 30%: from $ 4.33 to $ 2.96. The cost of the steak, along with interest, would be only $ 7075, and the real ROI would drop to -30%.
  • Stablecoins . Everything is simple with them: what rate is declared, the investor receives such ROI, minus the platform commissions. On cryptocrediting platforms, the rates are quite stable and allow you to predict income: for example, if you pay 1.94% per annum for USDC deposits on Fulcrum platform, then your profit in dollar terms will also be 1.94%, unless something out of the ordinary happens the USDC coin will not lose its peg to the US dollar.

Verdict: on average, the real ROI of stablecoins is higher and more predictable, as there is almost no volatility. A PoS coin can suddenly increase in price and bring profitability of 20% or more, but it can also lose half its value.

Number of platforms available and conditions

Next, we compare the number of available platforms for staking PoS coins and stablecoins and the conditions that they offer to holders.

PoS Coins

Dozens of platforms offer staking popular coins like Tezos and Cosmos. These sites can be divided into two categories:

  • Specialized sites are Staked, Staking Lab and Dokia Capital, among others.
  • Crypto exchanges – Bitfinex, Kraken, and KuCoin are among the smaller platforms.

Of course, platform competition is good for investors, but such a wide choice also means that you have to spend more time searching for information.

Having chosen a coin, it will be necessary to study the rates of return taking into account the commission at different sites, as well as assess the risks of each of them. Moreover, commission rates on different platforms can vary greatly, which affects the investor’s income. For example, for the ATOM coin, the Binance exchange promises a yield of 6–9% per annum, while on Stakin this figure will be 9.1%, and on Gate.io – only 6.1%.

Stablecoins

This type of digital asset can be deposited on various lending platforms:

  • Centralized – BlockFi, CoinLoan, Nexo, as well as a number of exchanges – Binance , Bitfinex, Poloniex.
  • Decentralized – Compound, Nuo, dYdX, Aave and others.

It should be borne in mind that different lending platforms can offer completely different rates for the same coin. For example, deposit income in USDC ranges from 1.25% to 8.6%.

Verdict: by the number of platforms, ordinary staking coins win. However, in the case of staking or lending in stablecoins, choosing a platform is easier: you do not have to compare so many options.

Risks: interest in the project

We have already mentioned volatility as a key risk factor. When staking stablecoins, the investor receives a reward in cryptocurrency , which can often be exchanged for fiat. But staking PoS-coins can lead to losses due to volatility. Another factor by which it is worth evaluating the profitability of investing in a PoS coin is the level of interest in a particular coin.

Stablecoins have a significant advantage: they were originally created as a reliable way to store and transfer funds between participants in a transaction. In the current crisis, investor interest in stablecoins can only grow. On the other hand, each PoS coin is a cryptocurrency of some kind of blockchain project , which can both succeed and fail. If the founders do not launch the product, then the price of the token may fall.

Another risk factor is the platform on which staking takes place. Both for stablecoins and for PoS-coins, both centralized (custodial) and decentralized (non-custodian) platforms are available. A cryptocurrency exchange like Binance is a classic example of a custodial solution: you transfer coins to the exchange for storage. If she is attacked by hackers, your steak may disappear.

In the case of non-custodian platforms, the risk of theft or fraud is quite low. It doesn’t matter which asset to use when staking or depositing and where: USDC – on Compound, USDN – on Waves․Exchange, XTZ – on P2PValidator.

And vice versa: on custodian platforms, the risks are higher, both in the case of providing stablecoins on credit, and in the case of PoS-coins staking. And since the bulk of PoS staking passes through exchanges such as Bitfinex and Binance, we can conclude that, on average, the risks of owners of PoS assets are more serious.

Verdict: PoS coins are more risky, because their price is highly dependent on both interest in the blockchain project itself and market sentiment. It is safer to choose non-custodian platforms for both types of coins.

Output

Nominal rates of return for PoS coins are often very attractive, but price fluctuations can lead to negative profitability. In the case of stablecoins, a positive result is almost guaranteed. At the same time, you should not expect earnings on stablecoin more than 15-17%, although it is possible with a PoS asset.

Ultimately, the choice should depend on your personal attitude to risk. Investors who are willing to take risks in the hope of earning super-high returns should invest in a classic PoS coin – for example, Tezos .

If it is important for you to keep the investment (especially in the case of large amounts), then stablecoins are definitely preferable due to the better risk-to-ROI ratio.

As the global economic crisis deepens, more and more investors will acquire crypto assets. This will undoubtedly change the market balance in the segments of staking and cryptocredit. How exactly? We will find out soon.

Date of publication 09.07.2020
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Binance Exchange added the ability to purchase cryptocurrency from Mastercard

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This Friday Binance Exchange announced the addition of the possibility of buying cryptocurrencies using bank cards in the Mastercard system.

The service covers 19 countries, including Russia and Ukraine. There are no other CIS countries on the list yet.

To use the option, you must log in to your personal account at https://www.binance.com/ , go to the “Buy Cryptocurrencies” tab and select payment using a bank card. Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Binance Coin, USDT and some other assets are available for direct purchases from Mastercard cards.

Previously, users already had the opportunity to buy cryptocurrency on Binance using Russian Visa cards.

Also this morning, Binance CEO Changpen Zhao hosted another live broadcast at Periscope. Zhao’s speech mainly covered the latest achievements of the exchange, including the launch of the Binance Card , mining pool , Binance KR, OTC portal, as well as cooperation with Brave and the acquisition of CoinMarketCap . In addition, Zhao recalled the need to maintain social distance.

“We have completed the initial development of platforms, and now I think it is important for us to support mining , since bitcoin mining is now centralized. We want more players to take part in it, as well as support existing players, ” he said.

In addition, on his Twitter, Zhao shared a screenshot testifying to the preparation of the exchange for the launch of option trading.

He left no comments on this subject. In the main Twitter account of Binance, a list of tasks for testers that was “publicly available” was posted. Among other things, it includes the item “test option trading”.

Publication date 04/04/2020
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