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Race To Mine Bitcoins Drives Enthusiasts Into the Chip Making Business

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the build-your-own-chips-to-build-your-own-currency dept.

Bitcoin 320

holy_calamity writes "MIT Technology Review looks at the small companies attempting to build dedicated chips for mining Bitcoins. Several are claiming they will start selling hardware based on their chips early in 2013, with the technology expected to force many small time miners to give up. However, as happened in the CPU industry, miners may soon be caught in an expensive arms race that pushes development of faster and faster chips."

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Great (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198427)

An unregulated currency plagued by theft and controlled by an elite cabal of basement-dwelling enthusiasts who can afford the thousands of dollars worth of hardware to drive smaller players out of the market. I'm sure nothing will go wrong.

Re:Great (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198545)

Bitccoin is partly regulated. Inflation is regulated by the laws of math. Better than the government printing money at the whim of bad political agendas.

Re:Great (4, Insightful)

Squiddie (1942230) | about 2 years ago | (#42199251)

Well, that shows how much you know about money.

Actually money is debt (sorry to sound crackpot) (4, Interesting)

isopropanol (1936936) | about 2 years ago | (#42199639)

Actually nearly all money in circulation is created as debt, which must be repaid with interest (that was created as debt that must be repaid with interest). Governments printing a little money (say enough to pay for their entire non-capital, non-military budget AND eliminate poverty) would probably help the economy so long as it was done quietly. In countries with a high currency due to a single resource being exported the effect could be even bigger. Of course this only works in countries that have their own currency (so not most of the eurozone) and the central bank is not a privately held cartel (so not the USA)

Re:Great (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198553)

The official Bitcoin protocol is voted upon by everyone participating in the network, either accepting or not accepting changes. The official client implementation, as well as a few other implementations in other languages, are open source.

If that's "control by an elite cabal" I'm not sure Slashdot is the site for you.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198605)

An unregulated currency plagued by theft and controlled by an elite cabal of basement-dwelling enthusiasts

Maybe the fed chairmen should come out of their bunkers.

Yes but (4, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#42198685)

if you can buy the hardware on credit,

1. use the hardware to mine new BitCoins
2. pay back the hardware vendor with your BitCoins
3. ???

Re:Yes but (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#42199267)

you mean like just before the great depression when people started to by stocks on credit and pay them off with the returns? yeah that worked out well for everyone involved.

Re:Yes but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199317)

You can buy a Jalapeno or a Mini with a credit card or with Bitcoins. Butterfly Labs and the competing vendors all accept Bitcoins for payment. If the new ASICs perform as promised, they should show a return on investment within months. I pre-ordered mine in September, and can't wait to get it up and running. My GPU miners are still hashing away, but generating only half the payouts I enjoyed before November 28.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198875)

Why tf is a 100% accurate fp rated at -1?

Um? (5, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#42198441)

If mining Bitcoins was so profitable why would they want to sell the chips? Wouldn't they be better off keeping these chips and mining the Bitcoins for themselves?

Re:Um? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198503)

Because the companies themselves don't believe in the Bitcoin. They're basically in the divining rod business. The only reason they wouldn't just use the rods themselves to find gold is because...

Re:Um? (3, Insightful)

hawks5999 (588198) | about 2 years ago | (#42198509)

Re:Um? (4, Insightful)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#42199105)

So what are you trying to say? Changing the owner of the equipment won't make it make more/less money. So it either produces enough money to pay for itself or it doesn't. And if the companies are selling it, the answer is probably that it doesn't or they'd just keep it and mint for themselves.

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198535)

If mining Bitcoins were so profitable...

Re:Um? (5, Insightful)

korgitser (1809018) | about 2 years ago | (#42198597)

By that logic, you would want to do everything by yourself. Well, if you are a fisherman, you probably will not start a bank yourself even if being a bank looks profitable. Unless you are from Iceland, that is.
There is a thing called the division of labour which says that if each of us specialize, we will get more stuff done as a whole. This is what built the civilization.
Also, if you are looking into investing, you can choose between a high-risk high-profit endeavour, like building chips for your own mining operation, or a low-risk low-profit endeavour, like building chips for other's mining businesses. By going the second route, you can hedge yourself against the uncertain final success of bitcoin, while pulling your profit from the general public's current and certain interest in bitcoin.

Re:Um? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#42198647)

You could summarize what you said with a quote from Mark Twain: "When everyone is looking for gold, it's a good time to be in the pick and shovel business."

To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

Re:Um? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#42198859)

"people are a problem."

True enough. But also, People are the solution.

Simple version is, SOME people are the problem, and SOME people are the solution. Some of the people that are the problem were previously the solution to a previous people problem. People are the problem, and the solution.

Re:Um? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199039)

You're a VB programmer, am I right?

Re:Um? (2)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#42198619)

May be, because, sealing chips is a faster way to make money? If I were given two options one is quick but less money, other takes time and makes more money, I would choose the quick.

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199049)

I would ask to quantify 'more', 'less' and 'takes time'.

Re:Um? (1)

stms (1132653) | about 2 years ago | (#42198659)

Perhaps to get the cost of manufacturing the chips down.

Re:Um? (5, Insightful)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | about 2 years ago | (#42198735)

Most of the money made during the gold rush was made by merchants selling mining and panning equipment.

Re:Um? (4, Insightful)

NitroWolf (72977) | about 2 years ago | (#42198745)

If mining Bitcoins was so profitable why would they want to sell the chips? Wouldn't they be better off keeping these chips and mining the Bitcoins for themselves?

If BFL were to mine instead of selling the chips, they would quickly have more than 51% of the network hashrate and the confidence in the bitcoin network would erode and the value would drop. It doesn't make any sense for one entity to mine all the bitcoin and devalue the currency... then it's worth nothing and it was for naught. No, it's far better to distribute the hardware far and wide, making it impossible for any single entity to gain a controlling portion of the network.

No, it doesn't make any sense for BFL to mine with their own hardware, it makes much more sense to grow the bitcoin network and for BFL to supply the hardware to do so.

Re:Um? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199241)

What you're saying amounts to this: BFL is selling hardware rather than mining bitcoins because that way they get US dollars (or other conventional currency) instead of bitcoins, and they believe that it is preferable to have US dollars.

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199615)

I think you accidentally replied to the wrong post. Summary:

GP: Bitcoin is more valuable if the chips are distributed.
P: I see, so BFL prefer USD to bitcoins.

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198901)

Their stated answer is basically that centralization would compromise Bitcoin's value, so it's more profitable for them in the long term to keep control over the network spread out.

Also, it offloads much of the risk onto the customers.

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198963)

In the gold rush of '49, guess who got rich? It wasn't the jackass panhandling. It was the genius that said "I'm gonna sell a shitload of shovels."

Re:Um? (2)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42198973)

If mining Bitcoins was so profitable why would they want to sell the chips? Wouldn't they be better off keeping these chips and mining the Bitcoins for themselves?

Unless the chips had backdoors in them...

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198975)

"If mining Bitcoins was so profitable why would they want to sell the chips? Wouldn't they be better off keeping these chips and mining the Bitcoins for themselves?"

They ARE mining bitcoin for themselves. The biggest player in the space - Butterfly Labs - is only accepting payment for their ASICs in bitcoin, last I heard. So their production line is just another bitcoin mining operation: and likely somewhat more profitable than outright mining over time.

Re:Um? (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | about 2 years ago | (#42199215)

"If mining Bitcoins was so profitable why would they want to sell the chips? Wouldn't they be better off keeping these chips and mining the Bitcoins for themselves?"

They ARE mining bitcoin for themselves. The biggest player in the space - Butterfly Labs - is only accepting payment for their ASICs in bitcoin, last I heard. So their production line is just another bitcoin mining operation: and likely somewhat more profitable than outright mining over time.

This is, of course, false. BFL accepts payment via Paypal and bankwire as well.

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199305)

Like I said - "...last I heard." When they first started taking pre-orders, it was bitcoin only. I'm buying bitcoin outright these days, so I haven't followed the saga.

mmmph. Recaptcha: "outright"

Re:Um? (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 2 years ago | (#42199245)

Perhaps mass production of the chips is necessary to bring the cost down to a profitable level.

It's like producing a drug. The first pill might cost $1 billion, while the second pill costs $1. Making one chip costs $1 billion, but make 1,000 and they're $1 million each.

I'd imagine chip production is somewhat similar. Of course, having more chips will result in some devaluation of the currency since more can be produced, but as long as the devaluation is less than the amount saved by mass-producing the chips then it's still worthwhile.

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199699)

More chips will not produce more currency in the long term (there will likely be a few weeks of increased supply while the network adjusts). Not only is there a hard limit to the monetary base (just under 21`000`000 BTC) but global bitcoin generation is currently less than half what it has been for over 3 years thanks to the first block reward halving (Slashdot story a few days ago).

Re:Um? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199723)

How can that be? There's a limited number of bitcoins that can be produced, by design. Surely everybody wants as many bitcoins as they can get their hands on, which will drive the value of each and every individual bitcoin up and up and up?

Unlimited demand, very limited supply.

Re:Um? (4, Informative)

Lagmo (972467) | about 2 years ago | (#42199637)

Actually one of the more serious projects(ASICMINER) DO plan to use the first batches of chips to compensate the IPO investors by using them for mining and later to possibly help fund more R&D and production runs. Additional and future income will be based on sales of the hardware

And since this is /. Preliminary chip info:
Built on 130nm node process (approximately comparable to the Pentium III generation)
It'll use a 15 x 15mm BGA package.
It's expected to run at around 200-300Mhz
It'll be a couple orders of magnitude more power efficient than GPUs and serveral times more than current FPGAs at hashing the SHA256 algorithm.
More info here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=99497.980 [bitcointalk.org] and older (but more geek bait): https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=91173.0 [bitcointalk.org]

Project is only about 2/3rds of the way through the foundry process, so atleast a month left till these chips could be active on the BTC network.

Chip to make first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198443)

I have a chip that guarantees FIRST POST!!!!

Bitcoins are junk... (-1, Troll)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 2 years ago | (#42198447)

The problem with Bitcoins is the same problem with any fiat currency. Essentially, they have no value other than the notional one which mindshare attaches to them. This makes them unattractive in the long run. Additionally, we have little assurance about their integrity, and you can bet that various world governments and private entities are working hard to break the whole system.

I'll keep converting my carnival tickets into precious metals, and leave the bitcoins alone.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198495)

Given that ALL of our current currencies are fiat currency, I guess we still have to wait for your prediction of "unattractive in the long run".

Or maybe you just don't have any clue.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198969)

Given that ALL of our current currencies are fiat currency, I guess we still have to wait for your prediction of "unattractive in the long run".

Bitcoin has no guns or government treasury to back up its value.

Maybe you forgot that.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

Squiddie (1942230) | about 2 years ago | (#42199297)

Guns and government don't uphold the value of a currency. Trust does.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198571)

The problem with Bitcoins is the same problem with any fiat currency. Essentially, they have no value other than the notional one which mindshare attaches to them. This makes them unattractive in the long run. Additionally, we have little assurance about their integrity, and you can bet that various world governments and private entities are working hard to break the whole system.

I'll keep converting my carnival tickets into precious metals, and leave the bitcoins alone.

What makes you think gold should be worth as much as it is? It's just been a valuation bubble on a very long time scale.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198577)

> you can bet that various world governments and private entities are working hard to break the whole system

I doubt it. They know they are junk too.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198591)

Precious metals (like Gold and Silver) have no value other than the notional one which mindshare attaches to them.

E.g. If people suddenly decided en-masse that Gold made crap jewellery then there would be no reason to buy it (it's not the best conductor, and there are cheap ways to make good conductors not corrode).

They are no different from money. ANYTHING at all only has value because people assign value to it.

Food has more value than anything else, because it is necessary to survive. Gold is no more necessary than Pokemon cards.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198679)

Notional value is THE only value.

Metals have intrinsic properties. How those properties are valued are entirely subjective, and carries no other value than the notional one which mindshare attaches to them. They're only given meaning because at this day and age those properties are sought after. And I can agree with you that we'll probably need good conductors for a good amount of time. But parallel to this, the Bitcoin protocol also has intrinsic properties, some of which are valued higher and higher in a world where privacy diminishes.

In a post-apocalyptic world I would have no primary need for either gold, nor Bitcoins.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 2 years ago | (#42198815)

Except of course for the fact that most precious metals have very limited inherent value beyond the psychological "ooooh shiny" which essentially makes gold not a whole lot different than a fiat currency. In the event of the total breakdown of civilization you could at least burn the money for warmth.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199059)

Gold has plenty of intrinsic value. It's a great electrical conductor, and it's non-reactive to practically everything.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#42199499)

copper jacketed lead is much more valuable in a SHTF situation

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 2 years ago | (#42199579)

How about protecting your worth over a long time scale, no SHTF scenarios included?

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 2 years ago | (#42199551)

Precious metal prices are set based mainly upon industrial demand these days. Silver is unbeatable in many medical applications, and both gold and silver have wide application in radio and electronics. Additionally, they have both provided very effective insulation against inflation, which has been running rampant in the USA for decades.

Paper is cheaper by the ream down at Office Depot if you merely want to burn it.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (3, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | about 2 years ago | (#42198933)

Precious metals are just as worthless as fiat currencies in most scenarios where a collapse occurs. Unless there's another fiat currency to exchange your lump of gold for, it won't do you any more good than paper money. No one will want it and you won't be able to easily exchange it for anything that's actually useful. Any currency is just a proxy for the idea of wealth. If shit hits the fan hard enough that the several local currencies become heavily devalued, it will probably happen on a global scale as everything is so intertwined at this point.

Precious medals will eventually become valuable again over a long enough period of time, but they won't guarantee that you'll see that time. Depending on the severity of the collapse, means of protecting yourself, food, and other basics to ensure survival are far more valuable, but knowledge is probably the most valuable currency available. What good is a mound of money if you're dying and don't know how to stop it?

Precious metals suffer from the same problem as any other form of currency: it's only as valuable as everything considers it to be or as someone will pay to use it to produce something else.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (0)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 2 years ago | (#42199535)

Are you joking? Tell this to the people in Argentina, India, Brazil, etc etc. The folks who had precious metals were much better off than the losers holding carnival tickets.

Precious metals may have been simply magically valuable in the olden days, but their modern prices are based upon their uses in industry. Regardless of how the value is set, you can't argue with their being the sole known good unit of exchange, worldwide, for thousands of years.

Your argument collapses totally when you consider that you haven't provided alternatives for precious metals. You say "knowledge" is better than gold and silver? Sure, it is useful, but it's hardly an effective, known good, convenient unit of exchange.

Obviously only fools advocate precious metals to the exclusion of food, firearms, etc. but they are an essential component of both a societal collapse scenario, as well as the more mundane currency erosion that we have seen in the US dollar over the last few decades.

Re:Bitcoins are junk... (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 2 years ago | (#42199749)

Precious metals may have been simply magically valuable in the olden days, but their modern prices are based upon their uses in industry.

Are you joking? Yes, gold and silver and such are useful in industry, but do you seriously claim that the massive spike in precious metal prices in the past few years is the result of increasing industrial demand???

Obviously only fools advocate precious metals to the exclusion of food, firearms, etc. but they are an essential component of both a societal collapse scenario,

It really depends on how far the collapse goes. In the true survivalist scenario that most precious metals fanatics champion, "shiny rocks" aren't likely to be any more valuable than "green pieces of paper." A collapse big enough to destabilize all the global currency markets will likely drive technological production into the toilet, meaning any of your inherent industrial value for precious metals will go down down to nil too.

On a small scale, barter will rule. In larger communities, the only reason why gold (or some other metal) would emerge as a de facto currency in that scenario is if the people who had the guns or food or whatever happen to like it. If those people were rational, they wouldn't be taken into the mystical "shiny rock" theories of the ancients...

But... who are we kidding? The people who will have the guns and food and stuff will be the same wackos who are stockpiling gold, so you guys are trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. You want to corner the new fiat currency, which just happens to have a long history... if I were in charge of one of your survivalist camps, I'd advocate choosing some other useless and less expensive random "commodity" to stockpile along with your guns and food. Why the heck would you spend the money to buy precious metals at today's prices if you plan to force everyone to accept your new fiat currency in the event of a collapse? Choose something random that's rare but cheap... and just buy up all of it. WHEEE... instant currency!!

as well as the more mundane currency erosion that we have seen in the US dollar over the last few decades.

Bah... where the heck were you in the early 1980s, when all those gold prices plummeted? Sure, right now the "shiny rock" strategy seems to be edging out the "green pieces of paper" strategy, but I would bet a substantial amount of my life savings that people will stop liking those "shiny rocks" AGAIN at some point in the next couple decades, and all that "inherent value" of a non-fiat currency will go down the drain.

Even if your survivalist scenario were true, I think the chances are far greater that we'll see more cycles of precious metal prices to come before we get that collapse... making investment in those shiny rocks not very great as a long-term strategy.

Nerd gold (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198453)

Bitcoins is nothing but pyramid scheme that rewards the initial "inventor". The activity is nothing but nerd-gold mining, and unlike gold, it is actually even less useful.

then they laugh at you (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 2 years ago | (#42199299)

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Bitcoin is halfway there!

Re:then they laugh at you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199453)

Bitcoin is still being ignored by more than 99.9% of the population. You haven't even gotten past the first step.

I see absolutely no downside to this. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198493)

Market pushes for people to make better and better products, what could possibly be wrong with an arms race in processors?

Re:I see absolutely no downside to this. (1)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#42198511)

With bitcoin, you would end up with one entity have the super-fastest superscalar distributed parallel processing system, and you are back to having a centralised currency system just like the big banks.

Re:I see absolutely no downside to this. (1)

greg1104 (461138) | about 2 years ago | (#42198677)

This would be true if they were building general purpose computing devices. Since the work has moved onto ASIC production with the sole purpose of mining Bitcoins, it's no longer relevant unless you think that is a profitable exercise.

The sad thing about Bitcoin mining is its futility. If it ever does become something that's worth real money, it will get taken over by rich people and companies, same as every other currency in history. The relative ease of taking over the market with simple ASIC technology shows how easily the whole exercise can be devalued by a single entity with money to spend on R&D.

Interesting but why? (1)

colin_faber (1083673) | about 2 years ago | (#42198499)

Walking about SC12 this, like many years there are literally hundreds of FPGA vendors that build some what custom hardware that would mine bit coins extremely efficiently. I can understand some hobbyist chip designer looking to do something interesting for the heck of it, but really, there's already a huge cache of available products on the market that have been through the ringer and are well tested to perform this exact type of work load.

Re:Interesting but why? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198531)

These are ASICs. The Bitcoin mining scene has already gone through its FPGA phase.

... and now they have value. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198521)

Anything that results in research and production of faster and more efficient hardware is always a good thing, even if it came from this.

Re:... and now they have value. (1)

greg1104 (461138) | about 2 years ago | (#42198747)

This is not doing anything useful from a research perspective. To quote the article, "even [chip] technology 10 years old is much better than current mining devices". That's being generous. Look at the first semiconductor roadmap [wikipedia.org] chart from 1993 for a minute. These Bitcoin ASICs are being built at 65 to 90nm; that wasn't even state of the art then. This is advancing absolutely nothing except Bitcoin mining; there's no benefit for anyone else.

Re:... and now they have value. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199093)

"This is advancing absolutely nothing except Bitcoin mining; there's no benefit for anyone else."

You're quite right - and that is a good thing for bitcoin.

The more skin miners have to put in the game, the better for bitcoin. Nobody is going to walk away from a $30k investment in mining hardware - if bitcoin didn't work out when GPUs were being used for mining, one could always give up and play games... The earliest adopters of bitcoin have already done a tremendous amount of work to see to it that the thing survives and grows. They saw immediately that there was only profit to be made if 'somebody' created the infrastructure to make bitcoin work.

But for all the (very impressive, if amateurish) work of the earliest adopters, what will be coming next should blow that away. There's serious people and serious money in it now - and those kind of folks won't be screwing around.

Re:... and now they have value. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199345)

In other words the illusory value of coins will continue to be propped up by emotional investment and the sunk cost fallacy.

It's funny because even assuming that these chips will ever arrive, and that they actually work properly (not looking too good on that front), there's a real possibility that the buyers will never recoup the purchase price. But even so they'll probably try to make back what they can, destroying the profitability of previous-gen "miners" in the process.

Re:... and now they have value. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199531)

There's no sunk cost fallacy in paying zero (or very close to it) for bitcoin payment processing, versus paying PayPal/VISA/GoogleBucks/WoWGold/etc. anywhere from 2.5 to 10%.

I don't think it really matters how effective the ASICs are - mining isn't really the point. The point is removing the banks from our pockets.

And even if the ASICs work as advertised, ROI isn't really going to change much. The bitcoin network adapts very quickly to things like that.

Re:... and now they have value. (1)

erice (13380) | about 2 years ago | (#42199347)

This is not doing anything useful from a research perspective. To quote the article, "even [chip] technology 10 years old is much better than current mining devices". That's being generous. Look at the first semiconductor roadmap [wikipedia.org] chart from 1993 for a minute. These Bitcoin ASICs are being built at 65 to 90nm; that wasn't even state of the art then. This is advancing absolutely nothing except Bitcoin mining; there's no benefit for anyone else.

I think you are mis-reading the chart. 90nm was well past sate of the art in 1993. That's more like 2003. In 1993, state of the art was 500nm, better known as 0.5 micron.

65nm isn't state of the art, but it's not bad for a low volume ASIC. High volume, performance sensitive ASIC are at 28nm. 45nm is more common. Only Intel is shipping 22nm.

Slashdot, official bitcoin mouthpiece (0, Redundant)

Holammer (1217422) | about 2 years ago | (#42198561)

I never see bitcoin news in any other media and it gets far too much coverage here than it actually deserves.

Re:Slashdot, official bitcoin mouthpiece (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198653)

leave

Re:Slashdot, official bitcoin mouthpiece (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#42198689)

Slashdot. Raspberry Pi for nerds, Bitcoins that matters.

Re:Slashdot, official bitcoin mouthpiece (2)

Troed (102527) | about 2 years ago | (#42198723)

Re:Slashdot, official bitcoin mouthpiece (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198917)

I never really see Linux news in any other media either...

Re:Slashdot, official bitcoin mouthpiece (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199423)

Let's just say each Bitcoin submission is accompanied by a... Bitcoin submission if you know what I mean.

Remember the Gold Rush lesson (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#42198609)

During the Gold Rush, it was the tool and equipment suppliers that made out filthy rich, not the miners (except for a lucky few).

Re:Remember the Gold Rush lesson (5, Interesting)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#42198697)

What you just said is a quote from Mark Twain: "When everyone is looking for gold, it's a good time to be in the pick and shovel business."

Re:Remember the Gold Rush lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199045)

No, what my GP wrote was a paraphrase of the Twain quotation.

Re:Remember the Gold Rush lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199329)

Actually, it's a historical fact that Mark Twain also remarked (in wittier language, of course).

Re:Remember the Gold Rush lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198893)

actually casino owners and prostitutes

What's a fucking bitcoin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198651)

Is bitcoin that virtual currency where users lost heaps of cash a few years ago when its value crashed big time? I don't mean to be trolling (well, I actually do), but are there really people who still actually believe in this thing with built-in deflation?

Re:What's a fucking bitcoin? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#42198923)

Is bitcoin that virtual currency where users lost heaps of cash a few years ago when its value crashed big time?

No, that was the US dollar. Bitcoin is the one that is with exchanges built out of ex-magic the gathering trading portals, whose users lost heaps of cash due to the exchanges' laughable security.

and here i was (-1, Troll)

gangien (151940) | about 2 years ago | (#42198655)

thinking all the stupid articles about bitcoin have stopped.

You want a real currency? they're called gold and silver. They have lasted thousands of years, and will last thousands of years more, short of us figuring out a way to create them in the lab.

Re:and here i was (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#42198751)

every utopia and cult has enthusiasts who drive everything forward by force of their will

eventually the bubble pops

give it time

myself, i think there is something interesting going on in this niche, but i don't think any one has figured out what that useful thing will be yet

mining bit coins is definitely not what is interesting, profitable, or useful

Re:and here i was (2)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | about 2 years ago | (#42198753)

thinking all the stupid articles about bitcoin have stopped.

You want a real currency? they're called gold and silver. They have lasted thousands of years, and will last thousands of years more, short of us figuring out a way to create them in the lab.

Not a stable currency for long.
http://www.planetaryresources.com/ [planetaryresources.com]

Re:and here i was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199025)

Not a stable currency for long.

http://www.planetaryresources.com/ [planetaryresources.com]

Meh.

Asteroid miners hunt for platinum, leave all common sense in glovebox [theregister.co.uk]

Re:and here i was (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#42199263)

their business model seems sound if they can keep their expenses low enough.

after all- who makes more money, [small expensive microbrew] or Anheuser Busch

Re:and here i was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198763)

Except that gold and silver have been hoarded by a select few individuals for the sole purpose of flooding the markets and devaluing other's gold/silver so they can acquire more of it.

With Bitcoins, this not as easy.

Re:and here i was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199109)

Except that gold and silver have been hoarded by a select few individuals for the sole purpose of flooding the markets and devaluing other's gold/silver so they can acquire more of it.

With Bitcoins, this not as easy.

Really then why does it have the same features you talk about here then.

http://www.technollama.co.uk/a-look-at-the-bitcoin-network-transaction-history

Re:and here i was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199219)

How does selling off large amounts of something to lower the price lead to you getting more of it. Buying back your stake that you sold off will bring the price back up.

Not really worth it with current technology (5, Insightful)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | about 2 years ago | (#42198769)

I was mining bitcoins with two AMD Radeon 9790 cards and was barely turning a profit. The problem is that the electricity cost to run the computer and the video cards is very expensive. It tripled my electricity bill. Then the difficulty was doubled, now I'm making negative profit. There is very little chance that if I continued to mine, the bitcoins I have in my wallet would ever become worth enough to make the money back. The same is true for everyone else: The more GPU's you add the more electricity costs and so you need so much hardware to break even that you'll never go into profit. The only hope is that you're one of the lucky few first people to receive one of the ASIC units from the two companies that claim to be close to shipping. Of course neither of those companies has actually shown a working unit even though they've taken thousands of orders (including two orders from me, one to each company).

Re:Not really worth it with current technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198935)

Exactly. That's the problem. I'm not one that wants to risk the obscene amount of money that they're charging for their "miracle chips". Albeit they are a nice little bit of tech. Once I read their disclaimer that "these would/will be useless for anything other than bitcoin mining... useless for rainbowtables etc." I was completely turned off. Though hacking their hardware to do something else will be something I'd like to see... and see if they benchmark faster than current mid-high range GPUs for bitcoin-esque mining possibilities.

Re:Not really worth it with current technology (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199147)

So? Your lack of scope is impressive...

I started mining in April of '11. Did pretty good. But I stopped at breakeven - and switched to buying outright. Why didn't you? Sell your GPUs on eBay, or contribute to Folding/SETI@Home. Play high-end games with your massive GPU performance.

You didn't have to be one of the early guys to have a bunch - they were down around two bucks for quite a little while just this year. And I'm still buying. They're still a good deal, and nowhere near what they will be...

Re:Not really worth it with current technology (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199273)

If you have fun joining pyramid schemes and trying to be at the tip of the pyramid, go ahead.

But it's irresponsible for you to encourage others to engage in that kind of gambling, especially without emphasizing the risk.

difficulty race (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#42198965)

Seeing as how computing power devoted by miners ramps up difficulty levels, won't this just create a self suppressing feedback loop?

Re:difficulty race (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199277)

Yes.
The mining protocol / algorithms pretty much ensure that the BTC in circulation will not inflate too dramatically. That's why its "BTC mining" and not "BTC print as much as you want" like what is happening with the USD via QE.

History will repeat itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199389)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

Re:History will repeat itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199729)

"Race To Farm Tulips Drives Enthusiasts Into the Hoe Making Business"

This hardware could be a problem (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#42199591)

Pretty soon we won't be able to tell the counterfeit bitcoins from the real ones!

Bitcoin is designed to resist this (1)

brillow (917507) | about 2 years ago | (#42199671)

Bitcoin has a built in limit and a built in "profitability scale" for its mining. The faster you mine the less profitable it is. Unless you could jump WAAAY ahead of the curve (as some early adopters did) you won't be able to make money mining.

Bitcoin needs people to spend it, not mine it, and thats a difficult problem which can't be solved without top-down (gov't) influence. People have to psychologically learn to accept bitcoins, and that wont happen unless they are made to.

There are a lot of benefits to bitcoins, but I think they will remain an, at-most, black-market currency.

The Processing Arms Race Again? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42199691)

When it comes to digital currency, Timekoin already solved the issue of needing powerful hardware just to use it or prevent someone with a ton of processing power from owning the currency. I'm really surprised bitcoin is able to maintain the pace that it does since it requires faster and faster machines just to process transactions. Seems like an awful waste of power and resources for something that is already done better elsewhere in other open source projects.
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