With the bitcoin halving looming overhead and now just over a month away, the question many are asking is what are mining companies and hobbyists going to do?
The core challenge once the halving takes place are the already slim margins for those without access to inexpensive power. Surviving the halving with current mining equipment is going to be improbable long term.
Bitmain has made it first-to-market with a solution. The AntMiner S9.
The bitcoin halving takes place by design to moderate inflation but rather than a sliding scale, its halve immediately after a specified block. This happens roughly every 4 years and will continue until year 2140 when all 21 million bitcoins have been mined (and we'll all be gone).
The last halving occurred in 2012 when the reward went from 50 bitcoin to 25 and at the time, there just wasn't enough of a market or mining taking place for much of a difference to be noticed. Fast forward 4 years. Mining is big business that requires custom ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) machines called "miners" to keep pace in the industry.
Naturally with half the amount of bitcoins being rewarded, half of the revenue from mining is going to be available. That is unless you can mine more coins faster and the ASIC chip to make this happen (16nm) is already in existence.
Bitmain arrives first-to-market with the 16nm's on board its new AntMiner S9, shipping the first batch this month on the 12th. It is important to note the 16nm chips themselves have been available and many successful mining operations to not use commercially available miners, but for the smaller mining companies, enthusiasts, and others who mine to support the Blockchain or just as a hobby the S9 is a likely choice to get a jump on the halving.
Just in the nick of time.
If the AntMiner S9 were in production today, it would do some damage. It's 3 times faster than it's S7 predecessor and more power efficient than any other miner commercially available on the market today.
The breakdown on the specs:
|1375W + 7% (at the wall, with APW3 ,93% efficiency, 25C ambient temp)|
|0.098 J/GH + 7%(at the wall, with APW3 93% efficiency, 25°C ambient temp)|
|2x 12038 fan|
|0 °C to 40 °C|
Bitmain also delivers the unit with a 90 day warranty and the cost is $2,100 USD, roughly 3.934 bitcoins. The shipping time depends on where you are located on the planet. United States buyers are likely looking at a 2 week delivery time leaving them little more than a couple weeks of operation prior to the halving.
The power efficiency is over 2.5 times better than its predecessor (AntMiner S7) and delivers close to 3 times the hash power at 14TH. In comparison the power consumption is slightly more than the S7 but that is more than made up for with the triple speed. If the AntMiner S7 was replaced today in an S7 mining rig, there would be significant production increase with little increase in cost. With the exception of the price tag of course.
At the current difficulty level and reward payout, you could theoretically pay for the unit in a matter of weeks. However, after the halving (early July), the ROI is likely going to take closer to 4 months depending on power costs. Lower rates in that relm will obviously see ROI faster.
As far as commercially available miners, there really is no Solution B yet. This it pretty much it. However that won't last long and you can indeed order the ASIC chips and engineer your own gear like the pros, but short of that skill set, the AntMiner S9 is currently the one and only miner at the moment to buy in preparation for the halving in July.
If anyone hears of a new offering in this space, please let us know by commenting below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can learn more about Bitmain's AntMiner S9 on Bitmains website.