Anyone try an ASIC USB stick for SETI crunching?

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Message 1922878 - Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 8:23:53 UTC

Hello,

I have searched the forums/Google for performance information regarding ASIC chips with SETI@home/BOINC application without much luck. I was thinking of using an $80 ASIC USB to help with the search, (no noise, small size, 5W of power for 15GH/s on SHA256, low cost) but can't find any information on them or if BONIC supports them at all. Has anyone had luck using these? The I see that SHA256 ASIC miners are supported by BONIC, but does that include the USB sticks too or only larger Antminer S5-S9 miners etc.?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/GekkoScience-2PAC-BM1384-USB-Bitcoin-SHA256-15GH-Miner/352294523805?hash=item520663d39d:g:NyUAAOSw9OFZIDXt

Above is a link to the ASIC I was considering using for $80 on average via EBAY as it is about 20 times more powerful than my GPU using the following math: (I think)

As I understand it from Google:
1 HASH = 12,600FLOPS approx.
Said USB stick is capable of 15GH/s
15billion x 12,600 = 1.89x10^14FLOPS -or - (189,000,000,000,000)
Divide that by One Billion to get GFLOPS = 189,000GFLOPS -Seriously!?!?! Is this right or am I dumb?

According to SETISpirit my PC does 5,733GFLOPS. So if my math is correct (it probably isn't, please let me know why) this little $80 USB ASIC stick is 32 times more powerful than my $700 AMD R9 295x2 GPU that uses 500+ watts to operate vs. 5W?!?! A 100 times efficiency improvement per work unit done?

I am eager to give this little USB ASIC a try, but would like to know if BONIC supports it before I spend $80, and if my assumptions of the general performance of ASIC chips are anywhere close to accurate.

Thanks!

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Message 1922882 - Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 8:46:20 UTC

Someone would have to code and verify the ASIC. While the raw performance looks great the amount of work required to get an ASIC application developed and into production is probably not worth the effort.
Bob Smith
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Message 1922884 - Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 9:41:30 UTC - in response to Message 1922882.  

Thanks for the reply.


According to the release notes for BONIC Changes in 7.4.26/7.4.27 (11 November 2014) the BONIC application has had ASIC support for some time:
https://boinc.berkeley.edu/wiki/Release_Notes_for_BOINC_7.4

* Add support for ASIC Miners.

ASIC Miners
BOINC now has support for ASIC Miners. An ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) is a device that is specialized to perform a single task very quickly, and a miner is a device that mines cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in order to generate value.
To configure an ASIC Miner coprocessor type in BOINC, you will need to add a "coproc" XML element to your cc_config.xml configuration file, including child elements for type and count. Type should be miner_asic, and count should be the number of such devices that you plan on using in BOINC. Additionally, depending on the project and the application, you may need to specify certain application command line parameters in an app_config.xml file, in order to properly run multiple ASIC Miners or to overclock them. See BOINC Configuration for general information on configuring those files.

Bitcoin Utopia is a BOINC project that has developed applications designed to utilize this new resource type. Please see their website and forums, for details and support.




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I believe I'm in the clear on that as the application seems to be coded already as of 4 years ago for ASIC, but finding information on Google as to the details is not turning up much. My thoughts are: it is hard to convince someone with a $2000 antminer or Multi GPU setup to spend massive $ on electric bills for SETI crunching without any financial return. A $70, 5 watt USB stick that could outperform the entire PC and GPU by 20 times is an easier sell.

Also, I would respectfully disagree with the cost being prohibitive if we had to develop a software application or BONIC update to utilize it, considering the performance gains are a 100 times reduction in electrical costs, with a 20-30 fold increase in crunching power..... (thus it was done 4 years ago upon realizing this) a few pizzas and beers goes a long way with some grad students. The savings on electricity alone is enough to warrant the expense IMHO assuming the math is correct.
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Message 1922887 - Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 10:13:29 UTC - in response to Message 1922884.  
Last modified: 5 Mar 2018, 10:18:48 UTC

I believe I'm in the clear on that as the application seems to be coded already as of 4 years ago for ASIC,

BOINC can manage an ASIC, but you still need an application that will run on /interface/ control a particular ASIC that has been made for the project you wish to crunch for. And in the case of Seti there are presently 2 different Applications (MB v8 & AP v7) with another 1 (or more) in the pipeline for processing more data from new sources. Eventually, the current applications will be depreciated, so any ASIC doing that work will become paper weights & new ones will be required to support the new applications.
The advantage of a ASIC is it can do one particular thing very, very quickly. The advantage of a computer is it can do lots of different things very quickly, and do other things once the software has been developed.

The ASIC you are looking at is for mining Bitcoin. That's all it's good for, and you've got to do a huge amount of mining to get anything of value. The more processing power thrown at it, the more processing required to get any Bitcoin.
Grant
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Message 1922893 - Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 11:20:40 UTC
Last modified: 5 Mar 2018, 11:21:56 UTC

As Grant pointed out BOINC is a management client used for scheduling and running tasks that are sent to the client. Each task has a specified application that it can run. Please see: https://setiathome.berkeley.edu/apps.php for default applications.

There is a difference between "Can compute(support)" and "run". In BOINC client terms support means that it can see the device whether it can be used to run tasks is another issue. Run means that a project has available tasks for the device and compatible applications for said task, whether these run optimally and efficiently is another question for another person.

Now on to ASICs, as grant and you pointed out, is a device designed for 1 specific use that cannot be used for another purpose. So in this case someone will have to design a ASIC chip to do Multibeam or Astropulse in either Verilog or VHDL. If you wanted an ASIC to compute say Einstein@Home units someone will have to use either of those languages to describe the functionality of said ASIC. And as the acronym describes itself "Application Specific Integrated Circuit" should make it clear what the purpose of that miner is
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Message 1922952 - Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 17:35:18 UTC - in response to Message 1922893.  

Sweet,

Thanks everyone for your time with my question.

Makes a little more sense now, because articles like this one below you see on Google, stating that hooking up an ASIC to SETI@home is a simple plug and play procedure confused me or may be incorrect/incomplete and not telling the whole situation?

https://www.newsbtc.com/2017/01/16/setihome-project-enables-bitcoin-asic-miner-hardware-support/

So, BONIC may be able to see the device, but that does not mean SETI@Home or Einstein@home etc. can make use of it correct? Wrong algorithm being executed. Thus is why Kiska stated "An ASIC designed for Multibeam or Astropulse in either Verilog or VHDL is needed."

Reading the article left me under the assumption that getting a Bitcoin based ASIC (SHA256) would almost be as plug-and-play friendly as my home PC was. That would be great! Thus I got excited given the potential of ASIC vs my GPU.

Thanks!
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Message 1922958 - Posted: 5 Mar 2018, 17:51:37 UTC

Reading that article I can see how you reached your conclusion. A very poorly written article as it is actually talking about the fund raising side of bitcoins not the actual crunching of work for SETI@Home, which is still the domain of GPU and CPU technologies. I wonder how many folks have been caught and are now in full head scratch mode as to why they aren't seeing any SETI work being processed.. Folks, unlike you, haven't asked the questions. I'll give you full marks for asking the question before "splashing the cash".
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Message 1923060 - Posted: 6 Mar 2018, 1:31:01 UTC

Getting the USB miners to work for Bitcoin Utopia wasn't what one might call "plug-and-play".
A GPU is really plugging the device in and installing a driver.
The miners required manual configuration of BOINC so they would be detected and function correctly.
Which wasn't overly complicated but did have a learning curve to it.
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Message boards : Number crunching : Anyone try an ASIC USB stick for SETI crunching?


 
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