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John O | February 2018

Engineer describes design for oil-cooled crypto-currency miner

by josh perry, editor


engineer neil birtles recently detailed his design for an oil-cooled crypto-currency miner for verium, one of many new crypto-currency companies that has been developed in the wake of the success of bitcoin, in an article for electronics weekly.


an oil-cooled design was used for a cryptocurrency mining setup. (wikimedia commons)


while crypto-currency is still a mystery to some, its valuations continue to grow and there are many companies that are riding the wave of bitcoin to create new currencies and to invest in crypto-currency mining operations, which requires high-powered computers to solve the mathematical problems called hashes. according to a benzinga article from last year, each block was worth 12.5 bitcoins.


birtles wrote, “bitcoin is now pretty much pointless to mine without custom miners containing application specific integrated circuits (asics) designed just for the job.”


the miner that he designed for verium was based on odroid xu4 single board computers and had an eight-core arm processor. he explained, “four are a15 cores clocked at 2ghz and the other four are a7 cores clocked at 1.4ghz. it also has 2gb of ram. for verium each thread requires a minimum of 128mb ram, taking up 1gb of ram for eight threads.”


as birtles noted, the thermal issues with computers running at high power for long periods of time could not be solved with standard cooling solutions.


“mining is generally about getting the fastest possible return on investment,” he said, “so a solution that provides individual cooling to each xu4, such as with water cooling, becomes very expensive. just blowing fans over them did not deliver consistent cooling and to be anywhere near effective it proved to be noisy too.”


he turned instead to a bulk, oil-cooled solution. he used samacsys as a design tool for the pcb and loaded the symbols into autodesk eagle. this included sensors on the top and bottom of each pcb to measure the oil inlet and outlet temperatures. the complete miner uses a raspberry pi as the controller.


birtles added, “cooling of the oil is achieved via an ek-coolstream xe 480 radiator, four of their ek-vardar f3-120 fans and an ek-d5 pump and pump-top, along with various fittings and pipework to connect it all up.”


read more about the design process at https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/cool-runnings-heat-dissipation-crypto-currency-miner-2018-01.

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