Bitfury has released a mining chip called the Bitfury Clarke, which it claims is the most powerful and efficient Bitcoin mining chip ever released. This is quite surprising since the Bitfury Clarke is 14 nm, while some Bitcoin mining chips are being produced with 7 nm transistors, which should be more efficient, all other things being equal.
However, the Bitfury Clarke proves there’s more to Bitcoin mining chip performance and efficiency than transistor size. Bitfury CEO Valery Vavilov, says, “Bitfury is looking at all factors, including silicon packaging, chip efficiency, optimal power distribution, cooling designs and speed of development when designing our mining hardware. We think that this will lead to solutions that deliver the best ROI to our customers — regardless of ASIC size.”
Each Bitfury Clarke chip produces 120 GH/s of hash rate while requiring 0.055 Watts of electricity per GH/s. This is actually a slightly higher energy consumption than 7 nm Bitcoin mining chips being developed by Triple-1, which require 0.05 Watts per GH/s. Bitmain’s industry standard 16 nm chips require about 0.1 Watts per GH/s, meaning 16 nm chips from Bitmain consume 82% more energy per GH/s than the Bitfury Clarke. The fact that the new chip has such efficiency despite using 14 nm chips suggests 7 nm chips have a long way to go until optimization, leaving plenty of room for mining chips to get even more efficient than Bitfury’s latest offering.
Energy consumption, total network hash rate and difficulty, and the price of Bitcoin are the three main factors which impact mining profitability. Bitcoin’s price has declined from a high of USD 20,000 in December 2017 to USD 6,400 as of this writing on 20 September 2018. Its mining difficulty has increased from 1.87 trillion to 7.02 trillion during the same time.
These two factors have caused many mining rigs to fall below a critical threshold where it costs more electricity than Bitcoin mined, forcing rig owners to shut down their rigs. The Bitfury Clarke is exactly what the Bitcoin mining industry needs to be re-invigorated since the reduction in energy consumption is so extreme that it makes Bitcoin mining profitable at these levels.
A calculation from CoinWarz, with an electricity cost of USD 0.10 per KWh, shows that the Bitfury Clarke would be profitable even if Bitcoin’s price dropped to USD 3,700. Considering Bitcoin has a solid support level at USD 5,800 and is unlikely to drop below that, Bitcoin miners can count on making long-term profits with the Bitfury Clarke, versus Bitmain Antminers which are in a very precarious position even at current price levels above USD 6,000. At the support level price of USD 5,800, the Bitfury Clarke would still be profitable even at a mining difficulty of 11 trillion, which would require a 57% increase in Bitcoin’s mining hash rate.
However, Bitcoin’s mining hash rate can increase 57% in less than a year based on current trends, so the Bitfury Clarke, despite its incredible efficiency versus industry standard 16 nm chips, could become obsolete if Bitcoin’s price doesn’t go up. That being said, many crypto experts expect Bitcoin’s price to rise drastically long term.
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