ELI5 What is an Antminer?

ELI5 What is an Antminer?
on January 7, 2020

Antminers are dedicated cryptocurrency mining machines developed and produced in mainland China by Bitmain.

The original Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin client used to mine Bitcoins using regular computer CPU’s. As Bitcoin gained monetary value in the early 2010’s, cryptography experts developed faster mining methods using video card GPU’s.

ASIC Mining

In 2013, a Chinese scientist and entrepreneur named Jihan Wu developed a mining system that was much faster than video card mining. It employed specially designed chips, programmed by him and his team, which produced SHA256 hashes orders of magnitude faster than any other technology at the time.

Mr Wu founded Bitmain and named his machines Antminers.

At the time of this writing, Bitmain continues to be the world leader in cryptocurrency mining machines.

Antminer Models

For SHA256 mining (Bitcoin Core and clones), Bitmain offers the S17 and T17 models which yield 70 and 40 terahashes/second respectively.

(Click here to browse the Bitmain shop.)

A S17+ Antminer will consume 2800 watts, or 2.8 kw-h of electrical energy.

At U$ 0.15 / kwh it would cost U$ 0.42 per hour to operate an S17 Antminer.

This equates to U$ 312.50 per month in electrical energy at the average electrical cost of the United States at the time of this writing.

(See our detailed article for details on large scale Bitcoin mining operations)

A S17 contains 195 dedicated ASIC chips pumping out SHA256 hashes for Bitcoin blocks. The main system contains 3 system boards with 65 mining chips on each.

A new model S17 is twice as tall as former S Antminer models and weighs approximately 10 kg.

Antminers work both with 50 and 60hz frequency energy as the Bitmain power supply will rectify and filter the provided AC mains power before feeding it into the Antminer.

Antminer Power Supplies

Although you can provide your own power supply for Antminers, it is recommended you purchase an official Bitmain PS such as the one below:

Ordering

Ordering Antminers is a big challenge for Bitcoin miners.

The batches often get sold out within hours of being released and long pre-order queues form for each new release.

Seeing how Bitcoin mining power has crossed the 120 exahashes/s in 2020, the demand for Antminers continues to grow and keeping up with the latest Antminers is essential to be competitive in the mining arena.

Bitcoin began 2019 with less than 50% of the hashrate achieved at year’s end. Most of this global hashrate is provided by Bitmain Antminer machines.

Some professional 2nd hand dealers join purchase queues and are able to buy Antminers before amateur miners do. They often resell these Antminers at eBay and other online marketplaces at a large premium, sometimes twice the original price or more.

References

Bitmain Website

Bitmain Shop