Compass Mining, a Bitcoin mining company, has flagged potential issues with the latest Antminer S19 mining equipment produced by Bitmain. According to a post by Compass Mining, the design of the Antminer S19 units, which are primarily used to mine Bitcoin, has been altered, which could cause the machines to overheat and in some cases, completely break down. The mining company has identified three flaws in the design that could contribute to these problems, including the lack of a peripheral interface controller (PIC) on units, the implementation of aluminum plating instead of laminate material, and the bunching up of components onto one side of the board.
Compass Mining explains that peripheral interface controllers are used to control and monitor a range of devices and systems across all sorts of electronics. In ASICs, they’re used to interface with hashboards individually, rather than addressing them as one unit. This, however, has been removed in the most recent design, which means that should one hashboard fail, the entire unit will fail completely. The mining company also said that the aluminum plating on the hashboard may overheat and therefore lead to a higher “failure rate” than those built on printed circuit boards, which is what the old S19s were built on.
The company said they first realized the drop in performance when they deployed the S19 XP at its Texas partner facility. As for the third issue, the firm noted that by implementing the aluminum plating without changing the chassis, the base frame of the ASIC, would also contribute to the higher failure rates. Because aluminum is very heat emissive, the metal will cause “convective heating” inside the chassis.
Compass Mining suggests a number of possible solutions to the issues, including finding third-party firmware that allows the frequency and voltage of the machine to maintain reasonable temperature and humidity levels in order to get more longevity out of the mining machines. The company also suggests increasing the mass air flow sufficiently to dissipate the heat stored within the miner, which may involve a different design or stronger fans.
While Compass Mining acknowledged that they may have just received a “bad batch” from Bitmain, the company notes that it’s “common knowledge” in Bitcoin mining not to buy the first batch of Bitcoin ASICs. It’s possible that unknown errors are only revealed over time, so it’s best to have others find them out first, the company said. Bitmain Antminers have been used to mine proof-of-work cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Litecoin.
In conclusion, Compass Mining’s findings highlight the importance of rigorous testing and quality control in the production of mining equipment. While Bitmain is yet to respond to the claims, the company may need to revisit the design of its latest Antminer S19 units to avoid potential overheating and failure issues.