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Butterfly Labs

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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar

Aurich Lawson

This is the first in a two-part series exploring Butterfly Labs and its lineup of dedicated Bitcoin-mining hardware. In part one, we look at the company and the experiences customers have had with it. In part two, to be published on June 29, we share our experiences running a Bitcoin miner for a couple weeks. Spoiler alert: we made money.

The more I dig into Bitcoin, the stranger it gets. There’s gray-market online gambling and Russian-operated futures markets—to say nothing of the virtual currency’s wild ride over the last several months. It’s full of characters with names like “artforz” and “Tycho,” supposedly two of the largest Bitcoin holders out there. Of course, like most things Bitcoin, it’s nearly impossible to know for sure.

While reporting on a Bitcoin-based gambling story earlier this year, I interviewed Bryan Micon, who works with a Bitcoin-based poker site called Seals With Clubs. (To continue the lack of information, Micon won’t say who owns the site.) Micon has taken it upon himself to investigate what he believes are Bitcoin-related scams—such as the ill-fated Bitcoin Savings and Trust online bank—and he makes public pronouncements about them.

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Yifu Guo Avalon V1

There's an entire industry of Bitcoin miners out there, people that set up specialized computer rigs to run 24 hours a day to mine the digital currency. Thanks to a 23-year-old kid from Brooklyn, this cottage industry is about to change. Yifu Guo, a digital media student on hiatus from NYU-Poly, has released the first batch of ASICs, which are chips custom-built to do one thing: mine Bitcoins.

These ASICs are capable of mining Bitcoins at a far higher rate than is possible with common computer equipment — Guo's design, called the Avalon V1, can mine Bitcoins about 50 times faster than a high-end rig, and offers a much more attractive price-to-performance ratio. ASICs also consume much less power than GPU-based machines, but they don't...

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