A major technology company in Japan has just announced their new 7 nm bitcoin ASIC miner. The device has a higher price point than the competition, but according to reports, has a significantly higher hash rate. Called the GMO Miner B2, the device is expected to ship in October 2018.
Introducing the GMO Miner B2
In an announcement made through a press release, the Japanese company GMO Internet Group announced their intentions to become a major player in the bitcoin mining industry by releasing what is slated to be a technologically superior device to the Bitmain S9.
The CEO Masatoshi Kumagai said that he respects Bitmain, but “we will top them”.
What makes this more than just a product release is the fact that this device could potentially disrupt the current near-monopoly that Bitmain holds over ASIC mining. According to a recent blog post written by the team behind the Obelisk, an ASIC miner for Siacoin, Bitmain is notorious for “playing dirty”. Specifically, when they tried to find companies to manufacture their parts, they would find their orders mysteriously canceled and with no explanation as to why. The implication given in the blog post was that Bitmain pressures computer parts manufacturers in China to only produce ASIC hardware for them and no one else.
In response, Bitmain released a blog post in which they declared this accusation a “conspiracy theory”. Neither side of the argument has produced concrete evidence.
It is, however, somewhat unsurprising that GMO’s new miner was not manufactured in mainland China, but was instead made in Taiwan.
The first major innovation with the B2 is that it uses a 7 nanometer manufacturing process. This means the device’s individual processors are grouped even more closely, and are thus faster and more efficient.
At the unveiling event on June 5, Bloomberg reporter Yuji Nakamura revealed the specifics of the device. According to him, the device will retail for just under $2000, have a mining speed of 24TH/s, is manufactured in Taiwan, and uses 1950W of power.
GMO unveils Japan's first-ever Bitcoin mining chip B2:
????$1,999 (vs $837 for Bitmain's S9)
⚡️24TH/s (vs 14TH/s for S9)
????????Designed in JP, produced in TW
????1,950w per unit
????Reservations start June 6, ships by Oct end
????????CEO: "I respect Bitmain, but we will top them" pic.twitter.com/m04WGBX1jf
— Yuji Nakamura (@ynakamura56) June 5, 2018
Let’s take a moment to run those numbers in a mining calculator.
According to coinwarz.com, this amount of mining power at today’s difficulty and block reward rate would produce just under $10 a day, or 0.44 BTC per year. This means that the device would most likely hit a return on investment in just over a year.
Compared to the Bitmain S9, the B2 consumes more power but produces a much higher hash rate. Putting the numbers into the calculator for Bitmain’s hardware reveals that the S9 will produce a bit over five dollars per day or 0.27 BTC per year, but will consume about $600 less electricity using the default electricity price of $0.10 per kilowatt hour.
Worth the Price Difference?
While the Bitmain device may produce less bitcoin per day, it also costs about half the price of the B2 when you include essential add-ons like power supply and international shipping. Once you run the numbers, the profitability of the two devices is very close with each one able to break even in a bit over a year (but with the Bitmain device breaking even slightly sooner).
So you may ask yourself, why not buy two of the Bitmain devices instead of one of the GMO devices? The answer comes down not just to pure profitability, but the disruption of a monopoly. Now that Bitmain has some real competition, ASIC buyers have a choice and can choose between two different devices that are highly competitive with each other. Not only that, but since one company no longer controls the entire global supply (effectively), the two companies will be forced to try to outdo the other in an attempt to win customers. This kind of competition is always good for consumers since it forces manufacturers to always innovate and outdo their competition.
Is the Bitmain Monopoly Over?
What remains to be seen is how soon will the Bitmain monopoly collapse. Most likely what will be the largest deciding factor here is simply how many of the devices can GMO produce. Bitmain has an established supply line and products already on the market. GMO may have a smaller production line and so it’s possible that not many of the devices will hit the market initially. This means that while some lucky buyers will get a chance to use the GMO B2, others who want to buy in large volume will probably still stick with S9 until the circumstances evolve and production rates for the B2 increase. What we don’t know is to what degree will the devices be available initially, and how well their supply levels will evolve over time.
Today, not even Bitmain is able to keep up with the demand, so it’s almost a guarantee that the B2 devices will sell out nearly instantly.