One year ago, with ASICs introduced for Bitcoin mining, GPU miners for SHA-256 algorithm are dead, with a high end Radeon card cranking out a fraction of a Bitcoin each day. The shift for Bitcoin mining to ASICs mirrors the shift from CPU mining to GPU mining. But for alternative coins which doesn’t hash with the SHA-256 algorithm, Scrypt based coins are designed to be more resistant to ASICs. ASICs, application-specific integrated circuits, are designed for much higher hashrates with much lower power consumption.
Eventhough Scrypt is designed to be more resistant to ASICs, there are companies that has ASICs in the works for Scrypt mining. UK-based Alpha Technology has announced the first Scrypt miner designed specifically with Litecoin in mind. The company is in the works to develop not one but two models of the Viper miner which comes with a hashing speed of 5Mh/s and 25Mh/s respectively. The basic 5Mh/s Viper miner consumes less than 100 watts of energy. Compare this to the most energy efficient GPU Radeon 7950 which is hashing at 700Kh/s, consuming 300 watts of energy, the Viper miner is 7 times faster while only consume one third of the energy. Alpha Technology has started accepting a 30 percent deposit for the Viper miner from the beginning of this month but it’s already out of stock at the moment. Both the 5Mh/s and 25Mh/s models are priced at £1350 ($2208) and £5450 ($8914) respectively. The increase in hashrate in Scrypt ASICs is not as dramatic as Bitcoin ASICs. Nonetheless, there would be noticeable increase in performance with a lower power consumption. An advantage, but not so much that GPU mining would become obsolete.
Other companies are emerging to develop ASICs for Scrypt mining, like Fibonacci and Flower Technology. Scrypt ASICs are not due for delivery until mid of 2014. So GPU Scrypt mining is still profitable for much of 2014. Looking back at how Butterfly Labs handled shipments for their Bitcoin ASICs with long delays and difficulty kept climbing for Bitcoin mining, making it almost impossible for those invested in ASICs to see any profitability.
Will these companies even deliver the products as promised, or is it all just a big hoax. Thus, before there’s any real proof of Scrypt ASICs, be wary of any monetary dealings.