Hello Miners, FPGA.guide is excited to welcome a shiny new entrant into the FPGA mining space.  Monad Technologies, based in Taiwan, has just released their Imperium Miners to the community.  

Currently the Imperium V2 has an ROI of 4.1 months mining KDA.  

Key Points

The Imperium V2 is an FPGA hash-board miner very similar to the Blackminer and a typical ASIC Miner.  The manufacturer MONAD is considered a late comer to the mining hardware space, over 1 year after TUL, Bittware, SQRL, and HashAltcoin.

The Imperium V2 may look similar to existing Blackminers on the surface, but under the hood it aims to address some of the short-comings in the Gen-1 FPGA miners we've seen thus far.  

Nervos (CKB) Kadena (KDA)
Hashrare 23.4 - 27 GH/s 13 - 27 GH/s
Power 750-900W 650-1400W
Revenue / Day $10.47 - $11.2 USD $19.22 - $39.92 USD

Note: above performance numbers are based on 1st and 3rd party bitstreams from MONAD, whitefire990🔥, and stark0224🐺.  

Being late means less customer validation and brand value, but it also gave MONAD a unique opportunity to observe Gen-1 hardware limitations. We've seen almost every combination out there now, from new big chips like the VU13P and the VU9P, to little recycled chips like the Blackminer's K325T.  

Cooling ranges from custom water cooling on the CVP-13, to basic aluminum heatsinks and even CPU fans on the Blackminer.  It's been a wild west, but without a doubt there are lessons to be learned.  Here's an overview of key differences under the hood.



$200 off V2 3XBMCBR5EEK1
$100 off V1 ZNGF8CR8A5Y6

Open vs Closed Platform

Most major mining hardware companies have been closed off from 3rd party developers, and have forcibly bound customers to use 1st party bitstreams, and even limited customers access to secret bitstreams.

CKB bitstreams were widely available in the community, but Blackminer customers were restricted to older, unprofitable bitstreams during the best mining period.  This incentivizes the company against sharing with their customer base, as it gives them an opportunity to amass a profitable token before the network difficulty increases.

MONAD's Imperium V2 may look like a typical Blackminer, but from day 1 the company has partnered with the community in pushing and innovating the hardware.  On the bitstream side, whitefire990 🔥 at Zetheron Technology and stark0224 🐺 are integrating 3rd party bitstreams for the Imperium much like the BCU / BTU / CVP-13 styled boards that have seen tremendous success in developer adoption.  MONAD also welcomes Water Cooling and Immersion Cooling specialists to hack the Imperium.  

From experience, the community already knows 3rd party bitstreams are almost always faster and higher efficiency than Blackminer's 1st party bitstreams, and water cooling and immersion cooling were instrumental to amplifying BCU / BTU / CVP-13 performance.  

CKB Hashrate Comparison FPGA Hashrate Power MHs / Watt
stark0224🐺 CKB 16nm VU9P 11.7 GH/s 350W ~33.42
Imperium CKB 20nm KU040 23.4 GH/s 750W ~31.2
Blackminer F1+ 28nm K325T 22 GH/s 940W ~23.4

The Imperium miners are designed to be hacked and pushed, with capabilities that far eclipse the 1st party bitstreams bundled with the miner.

Thermal Limitations 🔥

Ever since whitefire990 first released the VCU1525 bitstreams, we saw that the performance and profitability immediately hit a thermal barrier.  Miners run FPGAs at high speeds, how do we dump out all the heat  that the chip, and the supporting components, produce?

The BCU / BTU / CVP-13 all use $400+ water cooling solutions to keep chip temperatures in check.  This is necessary because the VU9P and VU13P chips are large and produce between 250-350W's of heat.  Water cooling systems are expensive, difficult to maintain, and at risk of leaks and pump failures.

Water cooling systems are both expensive, difficult to manage, and at risk of leaks and pump failures.
Expensive and Risky Water Cooling Systems

The Blackminers use $0.40 aluminum heatsinks that are quick and dirty, but ineffective at cooling.  Having such a weak heatsink means that even if 3rd party bitstreams capable of reaching 700+ MHz, miners can only push them to 400 or 500 MHz due to thermal limitations.  Losing nearly 45% of potential profits.

Blackminer F1+ Aluminum Extrusion Heatsinks

MONAD's Imperium Miners solve both of these problems using a multi-chip design that distributes the heat combined with a custom data-center grade zipper-fin heatsinks with copper heat-plate for maximum air and immersion cooling. These allow the Imperium Miners to push frequencies of 700-750MHz on only air cooling, and even more with Immersion cooling setups.

MONAD Imperium Zipper Fin + Copper Heat Spreaders

Power Limitations 🔋

The second most common bottleneck that Gen-1 FPGA miners face is Power.  

Mining is a power intensive application, yet the Blackminers and even BCU / BTU boards do not deliver enough power to match the capabilities of the FPGA. Bitstreams are then limited to the amount of power they can draw from the Power Modules without risking damage or overheating.  

The BCU1525 and BTU9P are limited to ~250W, while some highly profitable bitstreams such as stark0224🐺 CKB can consume up to 360W.  Even boards such as the BTU9P Pro and CVP-13 that have been modified to supply 300W to the chip run into challenges.  The unexpected strain on the Power Regulators has caused risky VCC hacking, overheating, crashing, and even permanent hardware damage.

MONAD's Imperium V2 uses 12x 2-Phase LTC3884 power regulators.  The LTC3884 is a high-end power module that cost almost $9 USD a piece, and capable of delivering up to 100A per chip at high efficiencies meaning each Imperium V2 can push 1200A.

LTC3884 Power Module from Imperium V2, BCU, and CVP-13

In comparison, Blackminer uses a low-end Power Module called the TPS548D22 which is limited to only 40A and costs less than $2 USD.  This is why Blackminers cannot push bitstreams to over 550 Mhz, since the power draw would risk overheating and hardware damage.

TPS548D22 Power Module from Blackminers

Brand New FPGAs

Crypto-mining is a long-term investment, meaning reliability and longevity of the machine is critical for miners.  If your break-even-time fluctuates between 6-12 months, reliability could mean the difference between making or losing money.  

Currently MONAD, Bittware, TUL, and SQRL are confirmed to use brand new FPGA chips purchased directly from AVNet / Xilinx.  With that comes guaranteed reliability of the hardware.  MONAD currently provides a 12 month warranty on Imperium Miners, far longer than any other manufacturer.

Blackminer uses recycled electronics in China as a way of reducing the cost of production.  Recycled FPGAs are usually old switch or data-center boards that have been discarded, exported to Asia, cut up and re-balled.  While the chips may function at the time of purchase, there is no guarantee about their performance, reliability, origin, nor longevity.

Bitstreams and Performance

Imperium V2 is an open platform, with a mixture of 3rd party and 1st party bitstreams available.  Below is a short summary of the bitstreams available at launch, and those currently on the roadmap.

Algorithm Coins Hashrate Power Author Date
Eaglesong Nervos 23.4 GH/s 750W MONAD Ready
Blake2s-Kadena KDA 13 GH/s 750W MONAD Ready
0xToken 0xBTC 30 GH/s 1100W MONAD Ready
vBlake VBK 16.2 GH/s 720W MONAD Ready
Blake2s-Kadena KDA 27 GH/s 1400W whitefire990🔥 12/28
Eaglesong Nervos 27 GH/s 900W stark0224🐺 1/15
K12 AEON 79 GH/s 750W MONAD 1/31
Odocrypt DGB 7.8 GH/s 800W MONAD 2/15

FPGA.guide tested MONAD's 1st party CKB and KDA bitstreams and monitored the speed, temperature, and power consumption to confirm the stated performance numbers.  We're eagerly awaiting whitefire990🔥 and stark0224🐺 to release their bitstreams.  

Nervos (CKB) Kadena (KDA)
Frequency 650MHz 550 MHz
Hashrare 23.1GH/s 12.8 GH/s
Power ~750W ~650 W
Temperature 58 C (max) 55 C (max)
Revenue $10.47/day* $18.8/day*
Data from Dec 18, 2019 CKB minerstat.com KDA minerstat.com & OTC prices

Pros

  • 👨‍💻 3rd Party Developer Support.  whitefire990🔥 and stark0224🐺 currently both support the Imperium miner, and is open to all future 3rd party developers.  MONAD will also continue to build 1st party bitstreams for the Imperium line.
  • 💰 Shortest ROI Time.  Mining over $18/day with a launch promo price, the Imperium V2 currently has an ROI of only 4.1 months.
  • ❄️ Best-in-class Cooling.  Copper Heat Spreader + Zipper Fin heat-sinks and two high-power Delta Fans allow bitstreams to run at over 750 MHz on the Imperium with only active air cooling.  
  • 🍟 Brand New Xilinx Chips. Imperium Miners only use brand new Xilinx FPGAs and not recycled FPGAs on the grey market.  Long-term reliability is guaranteed.
  • ✅ Easy to Use. No PC setup or water cooling needed.  Just plug and play like any ASIC or Blackminer.  
  • ⚡️ 40% More Power Efficient.  Imperium boast a 20nm Ultrascale FPGA, which is up to 40% more power efficient than the 28nm K325T inside Blackminers.
  • 🔧 1 Year Warranty.  Worry less, MONAD offers a 1-year warranty with all Imperium miners.  Contact MONAD for detailed TOC.

Cons

  • 4️⃣ Only 4 Algorithm Currently Available. Imperium V2 is launching with only 2 of the top-grossing bitstreams (CKB and KDA).  Future bitstream releases are in progress.
  • ❓New Manufacturer.  Less community validation compared to Gen-1 providers such as TUL, Bittware, SQRL, and HashAltcoin.  

Hardware Specs

Imperium V2 Specs

FPGAs: 12x 20nm Xilinx KU040
Power consumption: 700 - 1200W
Cooling: Air Cooling with Zipper Fin + Copper Heat Spreader
Power slot: 10 x ATX 6-pin Power Connectors
Dimension: 16” long, 5” wide, and 7” tall.
Weight: 7 kg