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One of the least discussed mining opportunities is Avalon’s ASIC chip bulk sales. ASIC chips are the customized component that performs hashes in bitcoin mining. These are the same ASICs they used to build their first three batches of ASIC miners. Avalon is moving away from the direct to consumer business model, and instead selling their chips directly to distributors. Distributors are buying 282 MH/s ASIC in lots of 10,000’s – 2.82 TH/s per lot – for 780 btc. The large-scale sale of these chips will enable other companies to mass-produce bitcoin miners without having to design the actual ASIC chips themselves. They must then develop and manufacture boards to set the chips in, before shipping them to consumers.
Avalon’s timeline should put these chips in end-user’s hands by the end of July. This timeline takes into account their announced batch pre-orders in mid April. Allowing for their 9-10 week projected lead time, and time for setting the chips in boards and shipping. There are over 10 lots of group buys on bitcointalk.org, as well as several companies that are selling either the chips individually, or completely assembled boards. It would not be surprising if there were 30+ lots already pre-ordered – or over 84 TH/s.
Last week, Avalon released open source board designs for running their ASIC chips. The ASIC chip itself is only one component of ASIC miners. These systems also require developers to create boards to set the chips in, controllers to operate the chips, and an interface to a power source. Test chips were forecast to ship 4 weeks after pre-orders, which would indicate they will start shipping soon. Once designers have the chips in hand, they will be able to test their board designs and begin production. After a short period to manufacture and ship the assembled cards, retail purchasers should expect miners in late July.
Klondike is an alternative open source board to Avalon’s, and and may turn out to be a cheaper option to manufacture. Their primary design uses 16 ASICs, running at 4.5 GH/s, and announced plans to create a 64 ASIC board, which would run at over 18 GH/s. These are the same designs that companies like Terrahash are using. Additionally, there are designs for a K1 usb-powered device which will run only a single ASIC. This should add some interesting competition to ASICMiner’s 300 MH/s device announce on May 4th, and may force him to reduce the cost of his wholesale bulk pricing.