$1200 ASIC vs $4000 FPGA - Which is the best?


ANTMINER Z9 MINI was launched in June 2018. It has 3 boards that support Equihash algorithm. As soon as Bitmain announced Z9, many developers forked their crypto to new algorithm fearing the centralization. It's been 2 months since its launch and now you can see there is no equihash supported coin ranked [Within 10] in the profitability chart. It is obvious that the network difficulty has increased considerably.  Z9 mini produces a whooping 10K+ sols or even 16K sols when overclocked to the maximum. That can yield a profit of around $9 per day at the time of writing. Considering the cost of the miner, around $1200 [Customs duty + Shipping], it is really good investment right now.

But there are some hiccups you need to know. The most powerful ANTMINER Z9 is about to launch during the first week of september which can produce a humongous 40.8K sols. If the 2 month old Z9 MINI has the capability to increase the difficulty, keeping in mind some 2000-3000 units sold already, then think about the mighty Z9 which has 40.8K sols on stock settings. On my research, the profitability of Z9 MINI tend to decrease about 50% when the first batch of Z9 is delivered. Hence the ROI will be doubled. Think twice before you buy. Power consumption is much better, around 300W. That's a good thing.

XILINX VCU1525 is an FPGA based board which can be programmed to mine any algorithm. The Cost is $4000 plus Customs duty and shipping. At the moment, SHA3 algorithm bitstream is available as an open source. Using that bitstream, a maximum of 17 GHs can be achieved. It can fetch a profit of $6 per day. The profit was usually $8-9, 0xbitcoin price dropped a lot and hence minimum. Cooling could be tricky in FPGA. Even with the active cooling fans, it would never be sufficient. You will be required, your own cooling solutions. If you are techy, I'm sure you will love this. Programming bitstreams is a slow process, there are lot of work under development for more algorithms which is believed to be more profitable than as of now. 

One report claimed a hashrate of 24 Khs for CryptonightV7 but the bitstream for that has not yet available for public use. Power consumption is remarkably low, a maximum of 300W per card, that makes it the most efficient mining hardware in the market. Xilinx powered FPGA boards/cards are produced few 1000s a year and hence network difficulty will not increase much so if the price of the coin is stable, profit will be stable too.


My suggestion is that, sit tight and wait for more profitable bitstreams. Even though the ROI for FPGA is much higher than ASIC, there is a bright future for FPGA, more players could come in for development. It will be more profitable in the future without increasing the network difficulty. So go for it.

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