Biostar has announced an impending product aimed at Bitcoin enthusiasts, but unlike previously announced boards this one comes with a very tempting feature: the presence of 64 on-board application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) offering 24GH/s throughput.
The Bitcoin cryptocurrency operates on a proof-of-work basis, whereby client machines generate mathematical hashes. A small proportion of the generated hashes are valid, earning the user a share of a Bitcoin payout, and the effort put into their generation also serves to validate transactions that pass through the network. In the early days of the cryptocurrency, simply running hashing software on your CPU was enough to earn you large payouts; over time, the highly parallel nature of graphics processors were leveraged to perform the calculations significantly faster and make CPU-based mining uneconomical.
Now, following an explosion of press interest both positive and negative, even GPU-based hashing is no longer enough. Despite the formation of mining pools - groups who share the hashing effort in order to maximise the chance of a payout, equivalent to a lottery syndicate pooling their resources to buy multiple tickets - the creation of ultra-fast ASICs dedicated to the hashing function used in Bitcoin mining has resulted in an arms race whereby any other method of hashing is unlikely to cover its own cost in electricity.
It's in this hostile environment that Biostar is hoping to make a splash with its new product, the BTC-24GH motherboard. Unlike a similarly-targeted board from ASRock, which simply had support for a high number of GPUs
, the BTC-24GH is a true Bitcoin specialist. The board includes 64 dedicated hashing ASICs which offer a combined total of 25 gigahashes per second (25GH/s) - equivalent to mining across 30 AMD Radeon 7970 graphics cards, yet at a fraction of the power draw with each individual board drawing 130W.
Despite Biostar's protestations to the contrary, however, the BTC-24GH is not a motherboard but rather a daughterboard designed to operate as a slave from a more traditional PC motherboard. A 20-pin ATX power connector and four-pin 12V connector provide the board with its power, and a pass-through connector allows a low-power central motherboard - or additional BTC-24GH boards, up to a maximum of 50 per host system - to be powered from a shared PSU. A USB connector provides communications with the host motherboard.
Thus far, Biostar has not offered pricing or availability for the BTC-24GH, but claims it is ready to ship with a launch due imminently. More details are available on the official website