Butterfly Labs ASIC review - Little Single 30GH/s
We have finally got our hands on a Butterfly Labs ASIC miner. As most of you know, production release dates have been a enormous problem for BFL. The miner we are testing was ordered in March 2013, it was received October 31st 2013. As you can imagine, the wait time essentially nullified any chance of making a quick return on investment. With ASICs flooding the market, the mining difficulty is pacing with the production numbers. Want to make a good return on your mining investment? Get "fast hashing" hardware quickly.
The first thing that was noticeable about the BFL was the way it was packaged. It came in a USPS flat rate box, with a cardboard cutout serving as the BFL logo. The rest of the packaging was bubble wrap, and foam inserts. This surprised me a bit, as I'm used to high-end electronics being shipped in their own box, then double boxed for shipping. We can only hope that the mail carriers treat their packaging with care.
Unboxing the unit was also an ear opening experience, as I could hear screws rattling & sliding around inside the case. Loose metal objects floating around powered electronics can be an expensive mistake. Fearing it may fry the electronic inside, I removed the offending screws, and proceeded to put the unit back together. I then remembered that BFL had to change their original design of the Single & Little Single ASIC units. They had to double the case size, to accommodate the 30 & 60GH/s boards. The resulting internal case design & assembly appeared to be rushed into production.
The case from the outside looks sleek, and streamlined. They can be stacked side-by-side in a row, with proper ventilation. On one side of the unit, has a fan to pull hot air out of the case. The other side has ventilation holes for the intake.
The power connector was a poor fit, and I was nervous that I was placing too much pressure just to get the unit plugged in. The USB connector seemed to be fine, and is located next to the power connector.
Once I configured Cgminer, the unit fired up immediately. It was near silent at first, as the hash rate crept upwards towards 30GH/s, the fan switched to high; although, it provides good airflow, it is extremely noisy. 65dB at 1 meter.
One of the nice things about having a BFL ASIC miner, is the ability to plug the USB into your PC, and go. Gone are the days of opening your computer case, installing GPU cards, then spending hours trying to figure out why your card is so temperamental. I literally plugged the BFL ASIC into my PC, started Cgminer, and I was mining at 30 Gh/s in very little time. It is quite convenient.
The Cgminer configuration was all default. Meaning I input my pool information, and let it start mining. There are some specific Cgminer switches you can read about, they are located in the Cgminer documentation: ASIC-README.txt.
Butterfly labs has produced a decent performing bitcoin miner in the Little Single. However, it is a little late to the game for the mining environment we are currently in. BFL realizes this, as they have removed the BFL Little Single from their website, and can no longer purchase it. It's difficult to sell a miner for $1,200, at the same time, "new" units are selling on ebay for $700. This is particularly devastating for early purchasers of BFL products.
I truly hope that Butterfly labs can hit it's target release dates for future products. The potential for this company is immense, although from an outside perspective they may need some management restructuring. Missing target dates, coupled with BFL employees engaging in flame wars on the internet, was not the best strategy. Although, these can be normal mistakes from a young company in a revolutionary bitcoin world.
Butterfly Labs has some great new products announced, and have a scheduled release date for the end of 2013. The card-based 600GH/s looks like a great concept, and product. I'm looking forward to reviewing it.