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What is better for Bitcoin miners, Overclocking or Autotuning?

Let’s skip the usual slow intro and get right to the topic at hand: How Bitcoin Miners Can Increase Their Income. Generally speaking, there are 2 ways for a Bitcoin mining operation to rise to the next level:

Buy new hardware Improve the performance of your current hardware.

Buying new hardware is the riskier option of the two, as it generally involves a large initial capital investment that will likely take many months or even years to earn a positive ROI, subject to Bitcoin price performance, of course.

By comparison, getting more out of existing hardware is a no-brainer for most miners. What is less obvious or known is that the overclocking is not the only way to increase the hashrate of an ASIC. In this article, we will explain how self-tuning firmware can increase miners’ revenue and how it differs from the more well-known practice of overclocking.

Overclocking = More Hashrate, Less Efficiency (Max W / TH)

At some point in early 2018, miners began experimenting with overclocking their ASICs to increase revenue. Overclocking simply means that the ASICs consume more power, hash at higher frequencies, and produce more valid proof-of-work than at factory settings. For example, an Antminer S9 that normally produces 13.5 TH / s at a consumption of 1200 W could be overclocked to produce 16 TH / s at a consumption of 1600 W.

With Bitcoin’s difficulty adjusting upward steadily as more and more ASICs get plugged in, the revenue produced by a single machine generally declines substantially over time.

Graph of bitcoin hashrate versus its price

Graph of bitcoin hashrate versus its price

The price of the hash (US $ / TH of hashrate) has steadily fallen over time as the difficulty increases.

Therefore, miners want to get the most out of their machines, as quickly as possible, before their profit margins shrink due to increasing difficulty. And they are willing to make their machines less efficient (i.e. higher W / TH) with overclocking in order to rack up more satellites in the short term.

However, potential firmware upgrades don’t stop at overclocking.

Autotuning = More Hashrate, More Efficiency (Max TH / W)

Miner shows performance rates on Telegram with self-adjusting Firmware

Miner shows performance rates on Telegram with self-adjusting Firmware

Testimony of a miner from the Braiins OS Telegram Group obtaining approximately 17.5 TH / s from 2 Antminer S9

A lesser known performance upgrade for ASICs that is similar to overclocking is known as autotuning. Both overclocking and autotuning involve adjusting the frequencies on the hash cards to alter the performance of the ASIC. The difference between overclocking and autotuning is in the intelligence and sophistication of those frequency settings.

You see, overclocking is a pretty brutal setting. Simply increase the frequency on the hash cards to increase the hash rate of the machine. Autotuning, on the other hand, is much more sophisticated. Instead of increasing the frequencies of the entire hash cards, self-tuning firmware can calibrate frequency per chip. In other words, the firmware finds an optimal frequency for each individual chip, sending higher frequencies to higher-quality chips or lower frequencies to lower-quality chips.

The end result of autotuning is better W / TH efficiency at whatever power setting the miner chooses. When combined with overclocking, autotuning can enable even higher hash rates or it can maintain the same hash rate increase while reducing power consumption.

For example, the same Antminer S9 that normally produces 16 TH / s at 1600 W consumption when overclocked, could produce 17.5 TH / s at 1600 W consumption with per-chip auto-tuning firmware.

Miner comments on Telegram performance with self-adjusting Firmware

Miner comments on Telegram performance with self-adjusting Firmware

Braiins OS + Self-Adjusting Firmware Testimonial at Braiins OS Telegram Group

The self-tuning firmware market

Everyone who has been in mining for a few years understands how quickly the mining industry is evolving. While autotuning is still relatively rare today, it is likely to become standard practice among miners within 1-2 years.

Recognizing the value that autotuning can provide, particularly to miners outside of China who have to wait longer and pay higher prices for next-gen mining hardware, we at Braiins have dedicated ourselves to developing high-performance autotuning firmware for mining operations of all sizes.

As explained our Director of Business Development, Edward Evenson, in a recent podcast appearance, Braiins OS + is competitive in cost and performance, but also unique in other key aspects such as the open source base, GPL compliance, and the solid reputation we have built over 7+ years of experience in Bitcoin mining.

For more information on autotuning and the other benefits of Braiins OS +, visit braiins-os.com.

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