An inside look at an ASIC Bitcoin mining operation in Hong Kong

In the early days of Bitcoin mining, people used their own personal computers to mine. In the beginning, the mathematical equations weren’t as difficult, requiring less work and output machines needed to solve the problems to mine bitcoins. As time went on, the mathematical equations became more difficult, and there are now more miners, creating competition. This makes mining harder, and there is more demand on CPU’s to solve the equations, which in the end frees up blocks of bitcoins.

Understanding the technical side of Bitcoin mining isn’t an easy task in-and-of-itself. At a very high level, computers are used to solve very complex math problems. Here’s an example, and even this is high level. Once solved, blocks of bitcoins are released to the world. Miners are compensated for their problem solving and energy use with bitcoins.

The problem is, as time goes on, the math problems are getting more and more complex, making mining extremely resource heavy on CPU’s, servers, and other hardware. Miners are pooling together to share resources. In some cases, miners are creating entire Bitcoin ‘farms’ to mine bitcoins together. In addition, miners are using specific equipment to get the job done. This equipment is called ASIC, which just means Application-Specific Integrated Circuit.

And it’s not often that the public gets to see a large ASIC operation. And in a Chinese blog, Bitell, they posted about a new ASIC mining operation in Hong Kong, with details and pictures that shows just how much is going into Bitcoin mining, which is fascinating.

In the Bitell post, Xiaogang Cao, was able to visit an Immersion Cooling Mining Facility. He describes the facility as:

I saw some one meter high transparent glass tanks, with 1/3 the depth of the liquid inside, soaking the numerous green PCB board, silent boiling and bubbling. Each glass tank have its own copper pipes, and connect to a small cooling machine. Steam condensed liquid in the above, occasionally, a drop down. LED lights are in the flashing constantly, which bring a lively active feeling.

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The ASIC mining facility, according to Cao, has the best cooling machines and pumps from China. The mining facility is located within an industry area, and is composed of dozens of standard racks you can find in every common data center. Each rack contains 3 sealed liquid glass tank, blades are all operating quietly in the liquid, while switchers hanging above.

The immersion cooling technology has been developed for years, very mature. He also showed me a prototype liquid tank, it was build for ASIC MINER for test purposes. The first version of Block Erupter Blade had many external interfaces, equipped with a heat sink, with a large size, designed for air cooling. Now the new Blade PCB have been greatly improved in order to optimize liquid cooling results, PCB is reduced in height, this can use less liquid.

In fact, this cooling technique is of the planet most advanced. Same technique are applied for super computer systems.Through the usage of immersion cooling, calculating density can reach far beyond air cooling system. At present, each liquid tank can accommodate 92 blades, in future, could be more. Each 200cc liquid, can afford up to 4kw mining power. Each cooling pipe can afford the power consumption of the 25kw, a liquid tank can be installed 4 sets of cooling pipes.

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mining farm

Cao also said that the system is  ”practical, simplified, low cost high performance, and all this is designed for fast and large scaled deployment.” Since time is of the essence in mining bitcoins, getting the equipment up and running, efficiently, is a must. All of the facility can be monitored using an iPhone app, which displays room temperature, liquid conduit entrance temperature, and the outlet temperature.

Cao says the facility has yet to go live, and they are waiting for a few more racks and next gen chips, but it’s built for large-scale deployment.