The cryptocurrency hype led to the creation of new types of computing clusters – special farms for mining. While your neighbor throws rubbish from the balcony and stores it on the new GTX, the guys from New Mining attract investors and collect 40-foot containers stuffed with specialized equipment for round-the-clock bitcoins mining. Through the roar of the fans, we reached out to these enterprising enthusiasts and went to see what and how.
In the data center for industrial mining at once you will not come in. Here, as in a spaceship, a lock compartment is provided. If you connect the stairs and the engine room with one door, then the airflow will blow everything that lies badly.
Before the trip, we thought that we would see all the equipment right in the container, ready to be transported to anywhere in the world. But for now the farm is working indoors. Therefore, we’ll start with a story about the infrastructure in its current form, and then – about how New Mining can create the same in a clean field.
Equipment New Mining is located in a small hall. At first glance it seems that this chaos from the wires does not give in to any logic, but in reality the scheme here is not complicated. In the cabinets there are a lot of miners – devices based on integrated circuits of special purpose (ASIC). In fact, these circuits are close to conventional processors, but they are able to perform only certain calculations – in this case, required for mining of cryptocurrency. In these calculations, ASICs achieve efficiency in the region of 98% – this is 2-3 times higher than for video cards, not to mention conventional processors.
New Mining uses three ASIC models: Canaan AvalonMiner 741, 821 and Bitmain Antminer S9.
Canaan AvalonMiner 741 and 821 are black monolithic blocks, serially connected in a row. They do not have an additional stuffing, there is only what is needed for the calculations. The chain of “Avalons” through the converter on a conventional microUSB-cable is connected to the controller and transfers the results of calculations to it – hashes.
The second type of ASICs is Bitmain Antminer S9, more powerful and expensive models compared to the Avalon. AvalonMiner 741 and 821 give 7.3 and 11 TX / s (terahashes per second), and Antminer S9 – 14 terahashes per second.
The terminal has all the information on the devices, as well as data on the total income. So far, only BTC (bitcoins) are mined in the mines of New Mining – the most popular and widespread cryptocurrency.
Farms constantly transmit the results of their calculations to the Internet. Given the number of devices, you might think that this requires a broad channel of communication. In fact, the New Mining farm requires a total of no more than 50 Mbit / s in the hottest hours. This speed can be ensured without any wires.
The complexity of infrastructure maintenance directly depends on the complexity of the infrastructure itself. ASIC-farm is much simpler than the usual data center – with it we would be buried on the description of the racks. Data centers are two to three times reserved for all components: they have several communication providers, electricity and fuel suppliers for emergency generators, security systems, video surveillance and much more have been doubled.
For ASIC-farms nothing like this is needed. A third category of power supply reliability is sufficient – both for residential buildings. In case of fluctuations and interference in the network, there is a voltage relay. It fixes instability in the power supply and instantly de-energizes all equipment until the normal voltage returns. Then New Mining engineers inspect all systems, check if everything is all right, and turn on the power manually.
Nightmare about the accident at the data center is not the place – on ASIC-farms no data is stored, all results of calculations are immediately sent to the network. During the entire period of work, the New Mining farm was idle for only a few minutes because of electricity – there was a jump from the substation. Then the voltage relay worked as expected, the responsible engineer restarted the power and no problems occurred.
On the one hand, ASIC heat more than conventional processors. On the other hand, their area is also larger, so that the heat dissipates better. After experiments with different types of cooling in industrial mining, they came to the conclusion that it is most effective to dispense with ordinary air.
The entire hall of the New Mining farm is a large ventilation chamber. Air comes through the window openings. They are tightly sealed with filtering material.
Leaking through the equipment racks, warm air comes out from the other side of the room, where a pair of large fans help it.
In conditions when the equipment is sharply heated in relation to the environment, there is a risk of condensation on electronic components – the “dew point” problem. To avoid this, in New Mining, before starting the miners, the room is sealed and heated with heat guns. In this case, the condensate is not exactly formed.
If natural cooling is not enough, ASICs increase the speed of the fans. Constant and predictable load of crystals makes it easy to predict the change in their temperature and avoid problems.
The only alternative to natural air blowing, which was seriously considered in New Mining, is to place the miners in tanks with transformer oil. In it, a short circuit does not occur, since oil is a dielectric. The heat dissipates more efficiently than with air cooling. But new problems are emerging. You need to cool the oil, buy pumps, chillers and a mountain of equipment. In the end, this idea was abandoned.
Other standard systems
Of the remaining servicing systems for industrial mining, the most critical is the fire department. The principle is the same as for electricity: it is better not to take risks at all. When the alarm is triggered, the entire power supply is cut off, the room is sealed and the gas that displaces oxygen-halocarbon enters.
For protection from ill-wishers, the farms are installed in a fenced perimeter, with security, video surveillance, high fences and an access control system. Preferably away from roads and residential facilities – somewhere in the industrial zone.
Original container system
All that we showed above, fit here in such a 40-foot box. The length is about 12 meters, the width and height are about 2.5 m. At first glance, we have a standard sea container, but New Mining made something more interesting from it.
The container from New Mining will allow placing the equipment in any suitable climatic zone. In industrial mining such zones are determined by several factors. The prices for electricity and its available volumes are taken into account – here the appetites of ASIC-farms are not limited. And also safety is important – for example, in cities the potential of power supply systems is large, but close neighborhood with people can lead to unpleasant incidents. So far, the New Mining farm has been deployed in one of the Moscow industrial zones, but in the future all equipment along with the container will move away from big cities.
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