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Confessions of a Crypto Miner: Green(er) Mining

Welcome back to "Confessions of a Crypto Miner," my column about a crypto miner from 2013 trying to get caught up with the latest standards. I'm presently mining and reporting to you from a dual-GTX 1080 based rig mining zCash. Today, I'm going to talk about saving energy and reducing a miner's impact on the environment. How can you do that, you ask? Simple: Consolidation.

Mining inherently consumes a lot of energy, but a lot of things we do as tech geeks are actually not all that efficient. Case in point, my NAS I've had for years. Old Lenovo server-something or another, modded pretty hardcore, but still energy-drinking to the core. It's based around a Core 2 Quad and uses around 400W of power on its own when not doing much of anything more than being an NAS. It features big RAID arrays and big blower fans, none of which I really need in this day and age and all of which consume power. I've been thinking since I got my Ryzen quad core mining rig: What's to stop me from mining and doing my NAS stuff on the same rig, thus saving power? As it so happens, not much. My miner has the same memory size as the old Lenovo DDR2 solution and a far more energy efficient, likely faster CPU. So I can fold that 400 W server into my 550 W of mining, far reducing my footprint in a green sense. Let's get to it.

Alphacool Launches the Mining Rig 12 Open Air Frame Case

The world-famous manufacturer Alphacool introduces the first case of its Mining Rig series. The Alphacool Mining Rig 12 can accommodate two motherboards, four power supplies and of up to 12 graphics cards. There are also extensive mounting options for water cooling. For example, up to six 360 mm radiators can be mounted and at least two reservoirs with space for corresponding pumps. The ideal mining rig for Ethereum, Bitcoin, Zcash, Monero or whatever coin you wish to mine.

Mining Rig in perfection
The Alphacool Mining Rig 12 offers extensive options for equipping a water cooling system with different NexXxoS radiators, Eisbecher reservoirs and a wide range of pumps. The Mining rig case can also fit up to 7 fans, which blow directly on the graphics cards to ensure your cards stay as cool a possible whilst mining. In the lower part of the Mining Rig 12 you have 4 spaces for power supply units.

Intel's "Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator" Patent Filling Published

A filed patent by Intel has shed some light on the company's idea to somewhere, along the fuzzy lines of the future, introduce a Bitcoin mining hardware "accelerator" to the market. The application itself, for a "Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator With Optimized Message Digest and Message Scheduler Datapath" was originally submitted in September 2016, so it's not exactly a novel idea. However, the fact that it has just now been published doesn't really mean there hasn't been work behind closed doors at Intel towards development of working silicon of this technology.

In the filing, it appears it's Intel's intent to create a chip that could augment the existing Bitcoin mining process by increasing energy efficiency. As they themselves put it, "Because the software and hardware utilized in Bitcoin mining uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions, the process of Bitcoin mining can be very power-intensive and utilize large amounts of hardware space. The embodiments described herein optimize Bitcoin mining operations by reducing the space utilized and power consumed by Bitcoin mining hardware."

MSI Launching Coffee Lake-Supporting H310-F PRO Mining Motherboard With 13 Expansion Slots

MSI is in the throes of launching a socket LGA 1151, Coffee Lake-based motherboard that's geared for cryptocurrency mining. Apparently looking to cater to the mining enthusiast that wants the latest silicon even in the CPU department of their mining setup, it's still hard to imagine something other than the upcoming Pentium or Celerons will ever make their way to this motherboard - not in any sane miners' mind, surely.

Despite Supporting Coffee Lake processors and including 1x PCIe x16 and 12x PCIe 1x slots, MSI has taken steps to reduce unneeded features as much as possible, as the usual workloads for this kind of hardware don't really require more than some basic inputs and outputs. A pair of Molex connectors allows for more power to be delivered to the graphics cards employed on this motherboard, and only 2x DDR4 DIMM slots - smart cost-savings for the market demographic. Everything else is as bare and minimal as possible - the 1x HDMI and 1x DVI video output, sound connectors, 2x USB 2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 slots... One can see the preparations for some more 5x PCIe x1 slots to be added to a motherboard - just not to this one, since it can't handle that many graphics expansion slots. Maybe on some upcoming motherboard that simply reuses this design and trades the H310 chipset for something a little beefier on that front?

SUPoX Introduces Professional Crypto Mining B250A-BTC D+ Motherboard

SUPoX introduces a professional crypto mining motherboard, SUPoX B250A-BTC D+, that takes advantage of the Intel B250 chipset for native 8-graphics card support to eliminate the need for riser cards. In addition, it can be used with server power supplies (single 12V rail PSU) which gives more options for scalable mining. Without the need for riser cards, the initial setup cost is lower (a savings of US$7-$10 per riser card) and lowers the overall power consumption. The mining rig is more stable as less heat and less clutter improves airflow, which ultimately prolongs the life of the mining system.

The Intel B250 chipset enables the B250A-BTC D+ to run up to eight native PCI-e X16 slots, which has many advantages over PCI-e bridge solutions. Miners can save on the cost of having to purchase multiple riser cards and have a more efficient overall system. It also has better reliability and stability, as additional riser cards run the risk of burnouts and capability issues that can affect the downtime of the mining rig.

Spire Intros SP-ATX-2000W-BTC ETH PSU for Mining Rigs

Spire rolled out the SP-ATX-2000W-BTC/ETH, an ATX/PS2 power-supply for GPU-based crypto-currency mining rigs. With 2000W power on tap, the PSU bears a no-frills design to keep costs low. The design focus is not just on the number of PCIe power connectors, but also the length of the PCIe power cables, so you can have a multitude of graphics cards popping out through risers. The PSU comes with a total of eighteen PCIe power connectors, of which ten are 6-pin, and eight 6+2 pin. You also get a surprisingly high thirteen SATA power connectors, a 4+4 pin EPS, and a 24-pin ATX.

Under the hood, the Spire SP-ATX-2000W-BTC/ETH features a single +12V rail design with so-called "85 Plus Gold" efficiency; APFC, common electrical protection mechanisms against over/under-voltage, overload, short-circuit, and overheat. Two 80 mm fans (one on each end) are used to keep the unit cool. Taking into account its target audience, Spire is rating its life-expectancy at 100,000 hours, and is backing it with a 2-year warranty. It is priced at USD $219.99 a piece Stateside, or 199.95€ a piece in the EU. Currently, the company is only selling it on B2B platforms such as Alibaba, in 200-unit minimum orders.

GIGABYTE Unleashes the B250-FinTech Motherboard with 12 PCIe Slots

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, presents the new B250-FinTech motherboard based on the Intel B250 Chipset. Featuring GIGABYTE Ultra Durable components and a native 12 PCIe slot configuration, this new crypto mining focused motherboard maximizes efficiency and yield potential for miners. The B250-FinTech motherboard's 3-for-1 power cable and fine-tuned BIOS Mining Mode are some of the many attributes that make this motherboard a fantastic choice for experienced as well as prospective miners.

"The interest for crypto mining has grown throughout the years but has skyrocketed in recent times. With close regard for consumer needs, GIGABYTE has developed the B250-FinTech motherboard as the quintessential mining platform for all who are interested in mining." GIGABYTE Deputy Director Jackson Hsu stated. "Through extensive research and an exceptionally thorough development process, we have produced a mining motherboard with a robust native PCIe slot configuration for impressive mining efficiency."

Enermax Readies Mining-specific Variants of its MaxTytan PSU Series

Enermax is giving finishing touches to crypto-currency mining-specific variants of its MaxTytan premium PSU series. These units come with features homebrew crypto-currency miners could find handy. The MaxTytan Mining variants could come in capacities of up to 1250W, offering a large number of 6+2 pin PCIe power connectors, a live power-draw meter on the back of the unit (near the AC receptacle), and a "turbo" button that spools up the fan to its maximum speed. The PSU could retain its internals from the standard variant, including 80 Plus Titanium efficiency.

GIGABYTE Intros P104-100 4G Mining Graphics Card

GIGABYTE today rolled out the GV-NP104D5X-4G, a mining graphics card based on NVIDIA P104-100 mining processor. Derived from the "GP104" silicon, the P104-100 is configured with 1,920 CUDA cores on this card, paired with 4 GB of GDDR5X memory across its 256-bit wide memory interface. What's more interesting, although the GP104 features a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 bus interface, the card has only x4 wiring, although the slot interface itself is of x16 length.

The GPU core clock speed for the GV-NP104D5X-4G is 1607 MHz, with 1733 MHz GPU Boost, and its memory is clocked at 10 GHz (GDDR5X-effective). The card draws power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector, and has no display outputs. It's cooled by a rather simple aluminium fin-stack heatsink, ventilated by three fans, carried over from the company's latest WindForce 3X cooling solution. Unlike its consumer GeForce graphics cards, this card is backed by only a 3-month warranty. The card will be significantly cheaper than the GTX 1080 or GTX 1070.

NVIDIA Titan V Achieves 82 MH/s in Ethereum Mining

"But how well does it mine?" This is one of the questions in the mind of many in the enthusiast community whenever a new GPU is launched. These are a fickle lot, to be sure; their primary interest is the power/performance ratio of any graphics card, which enables miners to maximize profits. Price/performance isn't much of a concern when users are confident they'll recoup the totality of their investment in the medium run - and sometimes even the short run, if recent changes in Ethereum pricing are any indication.

The folks at HotHardware have put an NVIDIA Titan V through its paces in Ethereum mining, eager to see this Volta-based chips' prowess in this type of workloads. Titan V reveals itself as a graphics card that achieves 69 MH/s at stock settings - and an even more impressive 82 MH/s when slightly overclocked. Overclocking methodology was simple - increase temperature and power targets for the Titan V, and then increase memory frequency until a bottleneck was found. And voila. The Titan V was happily churning out 82 MH/s in version 10.2 of the Claymore Miner - more than double the output of an RX Vega 64 and Titan Xp. Power consumption wasn't detailed in this test, and the Titan V would almost definitely consume more power than a Titan Xp - the chip is double the size - but when we take into account the fact that its TDP is the same, that it's built on a 12 nm process against the Titan Xp's 16 nm, and that it uses HBM2 memory instead of GDDR5X... Well, the differences likely aren't anything to write home about. But the performance is. I'll leave it over to our expert miners to say whether they'd invest in a Titan V for mining - all $2,999 of it.

Starbucks Wi-Fi Exploits Coffee Lovers' Devices for Cryptocoin Mining Operations

Nothing in life is free, not even the Wi-Fi at Starbucks cafes. That's something Noah Dinkin would discover eventually. While sipping his coffee at a Starbucks coffeehouse in Buenos Aires, the founder and CEO of stensul decided to log onto the Wi-Fi network to get some work done. To his surprise, there was an unusual delay before he was able to access the internet. Noah later found out that a malicious code was working behind the scenes to hijack customer's devices to mine Monero (XMR). He immediately reported the exploit to Starbucks via Twitter. Starbucks was unaware of the issue, but the company immediately contacted their internet provider to remove the code. To their defense, the Wi-Fi service is outsourced to a third-party provider, therefore, Starbucks doesn't own or control the Wi-Fi network. The company claims that this was an isolated case, and their other stores are safe.

Inno3D Launches New P104-100 Crypto-Mining Accelerator

INNO3D, a leading manufacturer of awesome high-end multimedia components and various innovations enriching your life, introduces its new P104-100 Crypto-Mining Accelerator. The new range will be available in TWIN X2 edition. The P104-100 has been designed with no less than 40% more mining power than its predecessor allowing the miner to enhance ETH, ZEC, etc. number crunching to levels, that have never been seen before. The freshly forged radical comes packed with 11 Gbps GDDR5X memory, and 4GB memory for optimizing cryptocurrency calculations. By deploying the INNO3D P104-100, miners now enjoy the ultimate power and utilize best-in-class hash rate today.

Manli Announces P104-100 Turnkey Mining System

Manli Technology Group Limited, one of the major Graphics Cards, Mining Systems, Mining Cards and other components manufacturer, today announced the latest mining system, P104-100. Follow of the immense response on previous Manli mining system versions, P106-090 and P106-100. Manli released the latest mining system, P104-100 which has better hash rate and power consumption.

Manli All-in-One Mining System, P104-100 equipped with multi-mining cards to maximum the efficiency of mining return, and distinctive motherboard design which supports up to 9 pcs of GPU mining cards.

Mining "Renting" Service Nicehash Hacked; $68M Routed From User Wallets

Another high-profile hack has hit Bitcoin, as cryptocurrency mining pool Nicehash has confirmed that they've suffered a hack which has rendered users' wallets with the service to be emptied. The heist, currently valued at more than $68M, transferred 4,736.4281 BTC in total to the unknown party's (the perpetrator's, almost certainly) wallet. A single transaction of 4,655.25349748 BTC was the most high-profile one to take place, and has left Nicehash users in the cold.

In a post on Reddit, Nicehash representatives confirmed the heist, stating that "Unfortunately, there has been a security breach involving NiceHash website. We are currently investigating the nature of the incident and, as a result, we are stopping all operations for the next 24 hours. Importantly, our payment system was compromised and the contents of the NiceHash Bitcoin wallet have been stolen. We are working to verify the precise number of BTC taken."

ASUS Intros B250 Mining Expert Motherboard with 19 PCIe Slots

ASUS dropped its hat into the DIY crypto-currency mining hardware craze, with the introduction of the B250 Mining Expert motherboard. This ATX form-factor motherboard comes with a jaw-dropping eighteen PCI-Express gen 3.0 x1 slots, in addition to a PCI-Express gen 3.0 x16, taking full advantage of the 200-series platform's PCIe lane budget. The board draws power from three 24-pin ATX, one 8-pin EPS, and three 4-pin Molex connectors, although besides one ATX and EPS, the other connectors are optional for the machine to start, but required for some of those PCIe slots to work.

Based on the Intel B250 Express chipset, the board supports 6th and 7th generation "Skylake" and "Kaby Lake" processors. The rest of the board is pretty spartan, with just enough connectivity to make the machine work. You get two DDR4 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB of dual-channel memory, four SATA 6 Gbps ports, six USB 3.0 ports (two via header), a gigabit Ethernet connection, 6-channel HD audio, HDMI display output, and legacy PS/2 connectors. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Web Cryptocurrency Mining Evolves: Now Keeps Running After Closing Browser

Well, after users think they've closed their browsers, more specifically. Researchers form anti-malware provider Malwarebytes have discovered a new form of web-based cryptocurrency mining that has a stealth-like approach to running mining code, which might cause less attentive users' machines to keep mining even after their web browsers have been closed. This is done via an utterly simple method, really: upon opening a malicious web page that has been coded to make users' machines mine cryptocurrency, the web page opens a pop-up window that is minimized behind the Windows Taskbar's clock. It's ingeniously simple - but could be surprisingly hard to detect, and could mean that the mining process will actually keep on using CPU cycles and mining crypto indefinitely until the next system reboot.

FSP Releases a Powerful 2000W Dedicated Mining Power Supply

The topic of Bitcoin mining continues trending. Some countries even acknowledge payment with digital currency such as Bitcoin as legal payment methods. In order to keep up with this trend, high specification dedicated mining equipment is continually released by the industry. ASUS and ASRock have released mining dedicated motherboards, and high-end graphics cards from major manufacturers such as nVIDIA and AMD, etc. have all been sold out.

With the upgrading of this equipment, the power needed for overall operation of computers also needs to be increased in response to the power needed for the heavy operation during the mining process. However, currently there are very few power supplies on the market dedicated for mining. FSP power fully understands the needs of miners, and became the first to release the FSP2000-A0AGPBI 2000-watt super high powered power supply to prevent power malfunctions during the mining process when the processor/graphics card is operating at full speed and the power is at full-load 24 hours a day.

Colorful Intros Unique C.J1900A-BTC PLUS V20 Mining Motherboard

Colorful today introduced the uniquely designed C.J1900A-BTC PLUS V20 motherboard for mining rigs. This odd-ball form-factor board is designed for makeshift racks, and removes the need for PCIe riser cables. The board itself is a large PCB with nine PCI-Express x16 slots with 1-slot spacing, of which eight can be used for installing your mining graphics cards (x1 wiring), while the slot on the middle (blue), isn't really a PCI-Express slot.

The blue slot has custom wiring for the business end of the motherboard, a riser card which houses the Celeron J1900 SoC, a DDR4 SO-DIMM slot, an mSATA 6 Gb/s slot for your SSD, and the board's main connectivity, which includes two USB 2.0 ports, two gigabit Ethernet interfaces, and an HDMI display output. If you have trouble finding an mSATA SSD in 2017, there's also a standard SATA 6 Gb/s port. The riser draws power from a 4-pin ATX input. The main PCB has eight 6-pin PCIe power inputs, which wire out to 6-pin PCIe outputs near each black slot. This is more of a cable-management feature, smaller (20 cm long) male-to-male 6-pin PCIe cables connect the outputs to the graphics cards.

Graphics Cards Vendors Increase Orders in Wake of Expected Mining Sales Increase

DigiTimes is reporting that graphics cards vendors and AIB (add-in board partners) to both AMD and NVIDIA are increasing their orders for GPUs. Citing sources from the upstream supply chain, the report says that the reason for this is an expected increase in sales due to higher demand for cryptocurrency mining workloads. Most cryptocurrencies are mined on GPUs today, and there are miners that leverage both AMD and NVIDIA's architectures for increased mining performance. Whereas before mining was somewhat of a strictly AMD business, NVIDIA's architectures have also been developed for in most recent cryptocurrency mining efforts, which means that no one manufacturer is the sole source of mining GPUs.

As such, and counting on continued economic support for current cryptocurrency pricing (or even increase), Asustek, Gigabyte Technology, Micro-Star International (MSI), TUL, Colorful and Galaxy Microsystems have increased their orders from respective manufacturing partners. Since graphics cards pricing has stabilized and even decreased somewhat in recent weeks from their selling points just some months ago, this might mean that we'll finally see some graphics card models from both AMD and NVIDIA finally being retailed for their MSRP again. However, demand for mining-efficient GPUs is expected to increase alongside cryptocurrency value, so don't take this increased supply for granted - demand could spike at any moment, and with little warning.

The Pirate Bay Resumes Cryptocurrency Mining, No Opt-Out

We've previously covered The Pirate Bay's usage of a web-based miner on users' machines without their knowledge or consent. We've even done a pretty extensive editorial on whether or not this could be the revenue model of the future. At the time, we came away with the conclusion that the problem isn't with the technology per se, but with the fact it's implemented by humans (and most problems do have their root cause in us humans after all, don't they?).

This seems to be such a case, since The Pirate Bay has now resumed their web-based mining activities with no Opt-out or, better yet, opt-in business model. Now, however, the code isn't being run in the site's core code, but is instead embedded on an advertisement script (yes, advertisements are still running parallel on The Pirate Bay). The most popular adblockers should be enough to stop this miner from ever running, anyway, but yes, there are still users who surf the web absent of any ad-blocking capabilities - and these should see some added processing spikes on their CPUs.

Inno3D Releases Two P106-090 768 CUDA Core Mining Cards

Hong Kong video card manufacturer Inno3D has launched two models of a new crypto currency mining card under the P106-090 name. The smaller of the two, featuring a reduced board size and a single heat sink fan, is known as the P106-090 3GB Compact, while the larger of the two features dual fans and is known as the P106-090 3GB Twin X2. These cards are based on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 design, much like their bigger brothers the GP106-100 mining cards, but with some disabled CUDA cores to reduce power consumption. Both models will feature 768 CUDA cores, compared to the GP106-100's 1280. This means the CUDA core count is on par with the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, but will retain the 192-bit memory bus of the 1060 design. This should enhance mining performance, as most crypto currency mining operations benefit greatly from increased memory bandwidth.

As the names suggest, both models will also feature only three gigabytes of GDDR5 memory, an interesting decision considering that many miners shy away from GPUs with less than four gigabytes of memory due to concerns that some currencies' DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) size will reach over three gigabytes some time in the near future. The cards feature a TDP of just 75 Watts, much lower than the GP106-100 cards. Theoretically this would allow them to be powered exclusively by the PCI Express slot, though that would be hitting the peak power draw for PCI Express. Most miners will be using riser cables or boards anyway, making the external 6-pin power connector a necessity. This is still a relatively low power draw for such a card, especially compared to the P106-100 mining cards which command a TDP of 120 Watts, and should aid in mining efficiency. A 1354 MHz base clock with a boost clock of 1531 MHz, with a memory clock of 8000 MHz round out the specs for both cards.

Web Mining, Part Two: Adblock Plus Now Blocks Web Mining Efforts a la TPB

We here at TPU wrote an extensive editorial on the issue of web mining possibly becoming the revenue model of the future. The Pirate Bay may not have been the first site to adopt Coinhive's javascript code for mining purposes when users access its pages, but it was the highest-profile one to be caught, since the performance hogging was enough that users started seeing diminished responsiveness on their systems when visiting the torrent site. On that editorial piece, we talked about the issues of web mining, and compared it to the advent of ad-based revenue models for websites. A piece of our argument revolved around human nature and the pursuit of higher and higher revenue, in a system that would typically reward abuse with higher amounts of mining-generated money - and how users, browsers, and ad-blocking would evolve to also block these mining efforts.

Well, Adblock Plus has gone and done it, adding a filter for Coinhive-based web mining, filtering the mining script. This will likely ignite a cat and mouse game between web mining providers, users, and the browsers and extensions we use to protect ourselves, but it isn't something we hadn't mentioned before. The Adblock Plus extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Android. Look after the break for instructions on how to add these filters to your Adblock Plus-enabled browser of choice.

Newegg, Rosewill Partner in Bringing Miners the PSUs They Deserve

Mining is a billion unit business by any metric you use: be it in hardware components sold, dollars generated for miners, and energy consumption, mining is one of the most florescent businesses in recent years. Mining around the globe consumes more power than many countries by themselves would; moves huge amounts of hardware through both sea and air; and is one of the more divisive technological developments of the decade, with proponents claiming it's the reinvention of the economic wheel, and others defining it as a hoax, a purposeless, virtual fallacy with no added value other than that which can be attributed to a pyramid scheme. However, no matter which side of the fence you stand in, there's one thing both miners and users usher in: enough PSU power to enable them to attain their particular use cases with both high-efficiency and peace of mind.

BIOSTAR Announces the H110M-BTC Micro-ATX Motherboard for Mining Builds

BIOSTAR releases the H110M-BTC, the first Intel H110 chipset micro ATX motherboard dedicated for crypto mining systems; a great choice for newbies. Even with a compact design, the engineers at BIOSTAR have managed to squeeze 6 x PCI-E native support (1 x PCI-E x16 3.0, 5 x PCI-E x1 2.0) onto the H110M-BTC, while most motherboards normally provide up to 3-4 PCI-E slots. The H110M-BTC also supports all the essentials in optimizing your mining rig: 7th generation Intel Core processors, 2-DIMM DDR4-2400/ 2133/ 1866 up to 32 GB, HDMI and USB 3.0.

The BIOSTAR H110M-BTC is built from the ground up for mining, be eliminating features that are not enhanced for mining performance. It focuses on providing a high return on investment in making sure there is native support for up to 6 X PCI-E. The 4-pin 12V AUX power connector ensures enough power to keep up to 6 graphics card running stable. And it has 100% solid capacitors making the motherboard extremely durable. The monitor output supports HDMI KVM for easy management of multi-mining setups or D-Sub KVM for more conventional multi-monitor setups. All these power packed features on a micro ATX design, makes this a great choice for compact mining rigs.

RX Vega Achieves 43 MH/s @ 130 W in Ethereum Mining

AMD's RX Vega is more along the lines of an original computing card that was moved over to the consumer segment for gaming workloads than the other way around. Raja Koduri himself has said something along those lines (extrapolating a little more than what he can actually say), and that much can be gleaned with at least a modicum of confidence through AMD's market positioning and overall computing push. In the argument between gamers and miners, Raja Koduri didn't have all that much to say, but for AMD, a sale is a sale, and it would seem that after some tweaking, RX Vega graphics cards can achieve much increased levels of mining efficiency than their Polaris counterparts, further showing how Vega handles compute workloads much better - and more efficiently - than traditional gaming ones.
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