Butterfly Labs – Jalapeno 7 gH/s – Hands on
You might ask yourself the question: Why would they do a review in 2014 on a 5 GH/s miner
Well, here is the answer! We just had the product delivered to us. To be more precise, a friend of ours ordered one and gave it a try back on 4.5.2013.
Costs: 5 GH/s Bitcoin Miner – $274.00
Shipping & Handling – 88$ (all the way to Budapest, Hungary)
Upgrade to 7 GH/S – 100$
He was aware of the bad reviews and forum threads, which all suggested that BFL ships late or actually never does, but he wanted to try and get into mining anyways. More than a month after the purchase on 14.6.2013, he received ”great” news from BFL. :
“All customers who ordered 5GH/s (OR 4.5GH/s) products now have the opportunity to upgrade to 7GH/s.”
He thought “Since it has not been shipped yet, I could get my hands on a better performing machine.” and he went for the 100$ upgrade.
However this was also mentioned in the e-mail:
“Upgrades are added to your order before it enters production, resulting in a customized product. If you choose to upgrade your unit, your order cannot be refunded.”
Ok so now way back from this point. Another important info was:
“These upgrades will not affect the shipping time of your unit or your placement in the order queue.”
Thank you for your order, patience, and understanding.
THE WAITING CONTINUED, WITHOUT ANY APPARENT PROGRESS. HE RECEIVED NEITHER AN EMAIL CONFIRMATION OF THE SHIPPING, NOR AN UPDATE ON LATE DELIVERY.
After 5 month on 7.11.2013, he decided to contact them! He wrote an e-mail in which he literally threatened them that he would sue the company both in the EU and in the US, as well as informing them that they were breaking various laws. It was a long and disappointed letter from a “Valued Customer”
Two days later he received an e-mail:
“Thank you for your order from Butterfly Labs! Your order (#100051872) was shipped via USPS Priority Mail Int’l on 11.8.2013. You can track your package at any time using the link below.”
So basically it took 6 months and an e-mail with the threat of a lawsuit for BFL to ship the miner!
Finally it was there…
The packaging was neither too fancy nor complicated. However it did the job, as the product was intact. Rumor had it that BFL does not ship on time because they mine with the products. To be honest, we could not tell if the product was previously used or not. There was no significant sign of usage. Even if you could see something, they could always say it had been tested and that explains it all.
Why buy it?
It seems like nowadays, due to the current difficulties and Bitcoins price, it is not profitable anymore. It is a good device, but these days buying 2 or 3 antminers would be a better choice, both for home and hobby miners. It was a compact and efficient solution, but the lengthy delay on orders made it unprofitable.
It is a really well designed cube with rounded corners, with dimensions of 4″ x 4″ x 3″. The quality of the metal work is far from high class, but the design is really nice. I am quite sure this is one of the best looking devices. The miner itself is a little bit loud, owing to a large 12V cooler fan inside of it. (You could not sleep in the same room for sure)
While it was easy to install with the stock miner, I had some difficulties with the USB driver when I wanted to use cgminer or bfgminer. However, it was still easy on the map. If you go for straight profit, try some of the alternative coins. One important rule about mining is: if you are counting with the price raise of bitcoins, don’t buy a miner, buy the bitcoins and wait. Of course, these little pals are not the ultimate money making machines, but great devices to be part of the community and mine your own bit coins.
During long term testing, it seemed the device stopped working every 4 to 6 hours unexpectedly. Restarting the miner always solved the problem. We ran it on cgminer and bfgminer, as well on Windows 7 64bit. Overheating was another problem. It has an operating temperature of around 62-68 Centigrade Celsius in a normal office environment, so it seemed necessary to remove the case.
Let’s see the pure details
- Technology: Global Foundries advanced 65nm technology (IBM core)
- Die size: 7.5 x 7.5 mm
- Substrate package: 10 x 10 mm
- Package type: Standard BGA 144
- Design type: 100% Hand routed for performance density
- Power consumption: 3.2 Watt per GH/s
- Performance: 4 GH/s
- Performance design: 16 engines @ 250mhz nominal (294mhz max)
Advantages of Butterfly Labs chips:
- 1/2 the power usage per GH as the closest competitor ????
- 1/10th the silicon area per GH as the closest competitor (very high performance density)
- Proven design currently operating in the field and ready to go
- Unlike some QFN packages which require underside heat sinks, you can use off the shelf heat sinks due to the FCBGA package. No need to design and manufacture heat sinks!
- Chip grades: Chips come in four grades of performance. Chips are sold in mixed grade lots. A grade has 16 engines, B grade has 15 engines, C grade has 14 engines and D grade has no less than 12 engines. All chips run at a minimum of 250 mhz. Higher grade chips will run up to 294mhz. The percentage distribution in each lot is 60% Grade A, 20% Grade B, 15% Grade C and 5% Grade D.
- Reference documentation: Butterfly Labs has released it’s PCB schematics & MCU code to open source.