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ASRock announces Bitcoin-mining motherboards

ASRock announces Bitcoin-mining motherboards

ASRock's H61 and H81 Pro BTC motherboards are designed specifically for Bitcoin mining with GPUs, but has the company released the boards too late?

ASRock has announced the world's first motherboard designed specifically for mining the crypto-currency Bitcoin - at a time when the peak benefit of GPU-based mining has long since passed.

Proposed by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto back in 2008, Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network-based currency which uses a one-way hashing function to validate transactions. Payment processing is carried out by volunteer systems, which expend computational power to create and validate the hashes that power the system - and, in doing so, unlock new Bitcoins, earning money and keeping the currency growing.

That growth has, in recent months, exploded. When first introduced, entrepreneurs soon saw a money-making opportunity in selling the generated Bitcoins for real-world currency - giving those whose computers aren't fast enough to unlock Bitcoins themselves the opportunity to give the system a try. While Bitcoins originally sold at around $0.02 each, today's exchange rate sees a single Bitcoin sit an at average of around $545 - down from its peak yesterday at $618.

While it's still possible for users to generate Bitcoins themselves by generating and validating the hashes, a process known as mining, it's not easy: as the computational power of the Bitcoin network increases, the difficulty of validating a block and receiving a Bitcoin reward also increases. Currently, that difficulty sits at a value of 609 million - meaning the days of individuals mining Bitcoins alone have long since vanished, with teams partnering up in mining pools and sharing the resultant payouts accordingly.

The growing increase in difficulty has another knock-on effect: the amount of computational power required to make any real money at Bitcoin mining is increasing exponentially. In its early days, the first Bitcoins miners used their computers processors to generate a few hundred thousand hashes a second. This was followed by GPU-based mining, giving access to performance of up to a few hundred million hashes; now, the profits go to designers of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) designed purely for Bitcoin mining, which can generate hundreds of billions of hashes every second at a fraction of the power draw required by a GPU.

It's in this market that ASRock has decided to launch a pair of motherboards designed specifically for GPU-based Bitcoin mining. Dubbed the H61 Pro BTC and H81 Pro BTC respectively, the two boards feature six PCI Express slots - one x16 and five x1 - and additional four-pin power connectors on the board to support up to six high-performance graphics cards.

On the surface, it's a smart move: Bitcoin's value has never been higher, despite its links to shady underground trading such as drugs-and-weapons den Silk Road, and the currency is gaining mainstream interest and even payment support from big-name brands. With ASICs offering a far higher performance at a far lower power draw, however, the days of GPU mining making a profit are long gone - with ASRock potentially missing the boat by around a year.

Details of the boards can be found on the H61 Pro BTC and H81 Pro BTC pages of ASRock's website. Pricing and availability have yet to be confirmed.

16 Comments

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Evolutionsic 18th November 2013, 10:26 Quote
what a load of crap
WarrenJ 18th November 2013, 10:57 Quote
I currency this going very far too be honest.
Gareth Halfacree 18th November 2013, 10:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WarrenJ
I currency this going very far too be honest.
Alone in my office, I actually voiced an audible, involuntary groan. Congratulations!
WarrenJ 18th November 2013, 11:19 Quote
Yeah. It wasn't one of my best. :)
rollo 18th November 2013, 11:29 Quote
GPU mining is dead what is this mobo good for exactly?

ASIC Miners are where bitcoin is at right this minute.
Gareth Halfacree 18th November 2013, 11:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
GPU mining is dead what is this mobo good for exactly? ASIC Miners are where bitcoin is at right this minute.
Yes, that's what the article says. (Although you'll never break even with any current or publicised next-generation ASIC, either, unless you started with one earlier this month. The difficulty is ramping too quickly.)

Seriously, though: the board could be a tempting device for GPGPU clusters; sure, Bitcoin mining on the GPU is roughly equivalent to standing next to a fan heater ripping up tenners, but there are plenty of other computational tasks a sextet of GPUs would chew through handily. Just a shame ASRock decided to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon instead of branding it more generally, really.
GeorgeStorm 18th November 2013, 11:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Yes, that's what the article says. (Although you'll never break even with any current or publicised next-generation ASIC, either, unless you started with one earlier this month. The difficulty is ramping too quickly.)

Seriously, though: the board could be a tempting device for GPGPU clusters; sure, Bitcoin mining on the GPU is roughly equivalent to standing next to a fan heater ripping up tenners, but there are plenty of other computational tasks a sextet of GPUs would chew through handily. Just a shame ASRock decided to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon instead of branding it more generally, really.

I would have thought this wouuld be good for F@H, BIONIC etc?

As you said, from what I have gathered, even ASICs aren't worth it, let alone gpus. From a quick look the temptation to buy a couple and see where they go is rather high :P (also annoying I sold a couple I had to test the system a while back for £40 each before I lost the rest :( )
Gareth Halfacree 18th November 2013, 12:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeStorm
As you said, from what I have gathered, even ASICs aren't worth it, let alone gpus.
Abso-piggin'-lutely. This calculator is handy: pick an ASIC maker, model and number of units from the drop-down box and it'll tell you when or if you'll hit break even, and your overall profit or loss over a year, based on hardware cost, electricity cost, and the ever-increasing hash difficulty. Sure, there are some nice powerful ASICs in the list which will double your money in a month - if you received the units at the start of this month or earlier. Sadly, start sticking in more realistic dates - the new ButterflyLabs 600GH/s ASIC, for example, won't be reaching anyone until February at the earliest - and you'll see a pattern: "No break-even in first year," which is an interesting way of phrasing "no break-even at all, ever."

Basically, the days of making money from mining Bitcoins are over, ASICs or no ASICs. You want to make money? Instead of buying £15,000 worth of ASIC hardware, buy £15,000 worth of Bitcoins directly - and just hope you can sell 'em before the bubble inevitably bursts, as it surely will.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeStorm
From a quick look the temptation to buy a couple and see where they go is rather high :P (also annoying I sold a couple I had to test the system a while back for £40 each before I lost the rest :( )
I've got an ASICMiner Block Erupter hanging off my Pi: 335MH/s at 2.5W. Paid £20 for it on eBay, and I will *never* see that £20 again. It's a toy, and getting it running was fun - but I'm under no illusion that I'm spending, not earning, money with it. Even the new RedFury and BluFury ASICs - around 2.7GH/s at the same 2.5W - aren't enough to pay themselves off, regardless of the number of people who believe otherwise splashing £145 a chuck on eBay for 'em.
ChaosDefinesOrder 18th November 2013, 12:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WarrenJ
I currency this going very far too be honest.

that was a bit(coin) of a stretch...
WarrenJ 18th November 2013, 12:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosDefinesOrder
that was a bit(coin) of a stretch...

Hi ho
John_T 18th November 2013, 14:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Basically, the days of making money from mining Bitcoins are over, ASICs or no ASICs. You want to make money? Instead of buying £15,000 worth of ASIC hardware, buy £15,000 worth of Bitcoins directly - and just hope you can sell 'em before the bubble inevitably bursts, as it surely will.

Yep, one huge great giant pyramid rising out of the sand - built on getting in early and having mugs come in below you and lift you up. Like all pyramids, as soon as the mugs below realise they're being mugs they'll abandon the thing and it'll all come crashing down.

Getting on early was clearly a good financial decision (if a morally dubious one) but getting on now in the hope you'll know when to jump off in time? No thanks - when this falls, it'll fall fast...
schmidtbag 18th November 2013, 14:37 Quote
I think it would've made more sense for them to have released an AMD board, considering the shorter pipelines at a higher frequency give better results in the bitcoin world (meaning, an AMD CPU would at least be able to contribute to the mining). I'd say they could do socket FM2 but if a user wanted nvidia in the PCIe slots, it would be a pain, at least for Windows users. On the other hand, I don't see why you couldn't just get a generic motherboard with only PCIe slots (1x or 16x) and slap a bunch of cheap overclocked GPUs in each slot. I don't see how this ASrock board has any advantage to mining. Also, in a bitcoin perspective, I'd rather have 4 pairs of USB 2.0 ports for every pair of USB 3.0 ports, for the ASIC miners.


But anyway, this board really did come too late.
theshadow2001 18th November 2013, 15:16 Quote
Seems weird to me that they went with x1 one pcie slots. Surely it would be easier to have x16 slots even if they were only wired as x1 slots. They don't even seem to provide the adapters or riser cables shown in the pic.

Maybe theres suitable pciex1 hardware I'm not aware of
schmidtbag 18th November 2013, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
Seems weird to me that they went with x1 one pcie slots. Surely it would be easier to have x16 slots even if they were only wired as x1 slots. They don't even seem to provide the adapters or riser cables shown in the pic.

Maybe theres suitable pciex1 hardware I'm not aware of

You don't need anything high-end to do bitcoin mining. There are a few PCIe 1x cards out there, but, many 16x GPUs will run fine on a 1x slot. You have to cut a slit in the slot to let a bigger card fit. I have a PCIe 1x riser cable that I cut with a rotary tool and tested a few GPUs on it. You actually get pretty good performance out of just 1 lane. I wrote an article on this several years ago, though I guess it could use some better proofreading.
r3loaded 18th November 2013, 18:44 Quote
Pointless for Bitcoin, but very useful for Litecoin which has just shot up today! :D
Gareth Halfacree 19th November 2013, 08:28 Quote
Fun fact: if anybody here actually bought £15,000 in Bitcoins when I advised, then sold it during the half-hour the value of a Bitcoin peaked at $900 last night, they would now have £24,771. Not bad for one day of earnings!
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