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Today, Cointerra announced the TerraMiner IV: a 2 TH/s ASIC bitcoin miner retailing for $15,750, with a forecast shipping date in December. Cointerra is lead by Ravi Iyengar, who previously worked as lead CPU architect for Samsung, according to Cointerra’s website. The 2 TH/s miner will be powered by 4x28nm ASIC chips running at 500 GH/s each. Application specific integrated circuits (ASIC) are specialized chips that perform bitcoin mining calculations. ASIC nodes are measured in nanometers (nm) and smaller nodes allow for faster and more power efficient designs. Mining devices currently on the market have been using 110nm or 65nm nodes. The 2 TH/s Cointerra miner will be at the high end of their initial product line, with the rest expected to be announced in detail at the end of August.
The 2 TH/s miner will be targeted towards retail customers and housed in a 2U air-cooled container. Early estimates of power efficiency indicate 0.6 Watts/GHs, 1,200 Watts total, though Cointerra wants to remain conservative with power estimates until manufactured chips can be measured. The miner will be self contained with a power supply and controlled through an ethernet port. Later announcements over the next few weeks should see products focused more towards data-center operators.
The pre-order predicament
Pre-ordering bitcoin miners has seen mixed success and faces declining sentiment in the bitcoin community. Butterfly Labs (BFL) angered countless customers by taking more than a year to ship initial pre-orders, and Avalon is over a month late delivering ASIC chips, with little word on updated estimated delivery date. While BFL and Avalon needed to take money early in order to fund production, many of the manufacturers now seem well funded and are taking pre-orders out of preference rather than necessity. Cointerra may be able to mitigate schedule risk somewhat by drawing on their team’s seemingly deep industry connections, particularly from Dr. Naveed Sherwani, CEO of Open-Silicon who is listed as the head of Cointerra’s advisory board. Open-Silicon has significant ASIC experience and has been working with 28nm ASIC designs for over two years.
There is however an interesting competitive situation being played out by the current pre-order environment: customers are allocating capital to products with 3+ month lead times, meaning that if companies wait until they have mining devices in stock, customers may be looking at purchasing the next generation of product rather than those currently available. In order to capture a decent market share, companies appear to be forced into this pre-order cycle. Most likely the headache caused by customer complaints from product delays will not outweigh the several months of extra capital.
In the event that pre-orders arrive after their forecasted delivery date, Cointerra will compensate customers with additional hashing power, according to Iyengar, who sees the market moving away from pre-orders in the next few months and towards sale out of existing stock. ASICMiner has been able to sell their hardware at a premium since they are the only company with any ASIC mining products readily available. As 28nm products come online later this year from Cointerra, BFL, KNC and HashFast, among others, the market should mature towards an in-stock model.
Conterra’s current strategy is to only operate as a hardware manufacturer and will not provide hosting solutions like BFL and KNC have offered. Iyengar indicated that they have received interest for hosting options and are working on narrowing down a preferred partner for a data center. With companies like Cointerra expecting to ship powerful devices within the next couple months, it does not appear that the exponentially rising network speed will slow down anytime soon.