Cryptocurrency Mines Consume More Power Than Argentina—But PSUs Can Help

While the automotive industry has been struggling for several months in light of ongoing chip shortages, different industries are taking the hit as nicely—notably, the crypto mining market

One of the first issues within the cryptocurrency market is the massive electricity consumption involved in mining operations. Because of the exorbitant price of vitality, {many professional} miners try and discover a appropriate geographical location for his or her mining farm the place the price of electrical energy is comparatively decrease.


Crypto mining farm. Image used courtesy of Transphorm

Why precisely does cryptocurrency mining burn a lot energy? And accounting for this excessive consumption, how may energy provide items (PSUs) employed in mining functions be completely different from general-purpose PSUs?


Mining Involves Computation-intensive Operations

Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency. It makes use of a distributed ledger expertise to make sure the safety of the system. When a transaction is made by individuals who ship or obtain bitcoins, the accountability of validating the transaction is unfold amongst many customers everywhere in the world.

To securely confirm these transactions, powerful CPUs, GPUs, or ASICs are employed to solve increasingly difficult cryptographic equations. Mining servers contribute their computational energy to the bitcoin community to resolve these equations and validate the transactions. As a reward, the bitcoin community pays miners for his or her time and tools.


ASICs have been proven to be more efficient than CPUs, CPUs, or FPGAs in crypto mining applications

ASICs have been confirmed to be extra environment friendly than CPUs, CPUs, or FPGAs in crypto mining functions. Image used courtesy of Bitcoin

The higher the computational energy of a miner, the higher the obtained compensation. Consequently, people and firms construct megawatt bitcoin mining servers, also called mining knowledge facilities, to extend their probabilities of incomes extra bitcoins.


How Much Energy Is Consumed?

The highly effective processors employed within the mining servers are power-hungry and work for lengthy durations of time, resulting in a major quantity of energy consumption. Hence, mining farms have an especially excessive, ongoing vitality price that needs to be minimized to maximise return on funding. 

According to Cambridge analysis, the worldwide vitality consumed throughout bitcoin mining operations is about 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh) a yr and exceeds the annual energy consumption of Argentina


Power consumption of countries compared to bitcoin

Power consumption of nations in comparison with bitcoin. Image used courtesy of the BBC

The PSU Efficiency Rating Is a Key Factor

Without decreasing the fee related to electrical energy consumption, mining can truly trigger miners to lose cash. That’s why miners need to employ power supply units (PSUs) with high conversion efficiency.

The effectivity ranking can be utilized to find out how a lot of the facility drawn from the wall socket is delivered to digital tools. For instance, a PSU with 80% effectivity that delivers 800 W to the load will truly draw 1000 W of energy from the wall socket. In this instance, 200 W of energy shall be wasted as warmth within the conversion course of.

With a PC system, upgrading to a extra environment friendly PSU won’t yield exceptional annual financial savings. However, this isn’t the case when coping with power-hungry mining rigs that function 24/7. Usually, PSUs with an effectivity ranking of 80 Plus Gold or above are advisable for mining functions.

As proven under, an 80 Plus Gold PSU has at the least 87% effectivity at 20% load, 90% effectivity at 50% load, and 87% effectivity at 100% load.


Efficiency of different PSU ratings

Efficiency of various PSU rankings. Image used courtesy of Nicehash

Mining PSUs Usually Operate in Harsh Environments 

Many mining farms are constructed close to power plants with harsh environmental conditions. Humidity is increased close to a hydroelectric energy plant, and the excessive humidity together with a excessive working temperature can cut back a PSU’s lifespan.

Besides, within the areas near energy vegetation, the PSU’s enter voltage experiences a better variation, and lightning strikes are additionally extra frequent. That’s why mining farms have to make use of highly-efficient energy provide items that may reliably carry out in harsh environments. Preventing downtime is essential as a result of time carries a major greenback worth in crypto mining.


System Reliability Takes a Hit From Inefficient Thermal Design

Power-hungry processors in mining amenities can generate extreme quantities of warmth. Although strategies reminiscent of heavy-duty cooling followers, HVAC methods, or water chillers can be utilized to deal with the warmth, these methods will not be normally employed in mining farms as a consequence of their excessive prices and vitality consumption.

As an alternate, these at crypto mining farms may as a substitute flip to different thermal administration strategies. The TI doc “Using DC/DC Controllers to Improve Bitcoin Miner Designs” presents two such choices. In it, the corporate compares the thermal efficiency of two completely different energy designs: 1) a board based mostly on a highly-efficient buck controller, the LM27402, which makes use of exterior FETs and a couple of) a board that makes use of a buck converter, the TPS548B22, with built-in MOSFETs.

In basic, built-in options are higher choices as a result of they require fewer exterior elements and are normally extra dependable. However, TI does word that in mining functions, a discrete energy design can obtain increased thermal efficiency. This is as a result of a discrete answer retains the facility MOSFETs and the warmth generated by them additional away from the controller. 


Thermal performance of a board based on LM27402 and TPS548B22

Thermal efficiency of a board based mostly on LM27402 (left) and TPS548B22 (proper). Image used courtesy of Texas Instruments

The board using the built-in answer based mostly on the TPS548B22 has a most temperature of 55.6°C; nonetheless, the board that makes use of exterior energy MOSFETs has a most temperature of 43°C. Since the latter design locations energy MOSFETs farther from the controller, it achieves a decrease most temperature and consequently, increased reliability.  


GaN: a Promising Power Element for Mining Applications

Although GaN devices have some limitations, they could be the facility transistor of alternative in future mining servers. These units swap at a lot quicker speeds in comparison with silicon super-junction MOSFETs. A better switching frequency can shrink the dimensions of the magnetics and result in a smaller board in comparison with typical silicon options. Additionally, GaN units function decrease on-resistance and nil reverse recovery, leading to extra energy-efficient options which, as mentioned above, is a key think about mining functions.

Transphorm Inc., a semiconductor firm centered on GaN units for switched-mode energy provides, lately introduced that its GaN devices are optimized for high-performance PSUs used in cryptocurrency mining applications.


Comparison of Transphorm's GaN cascode to other conventional e-modes

Comparison of Transphorm’s GaN cascode to different typical e-modes. Image used courtesy of Transphorm

The firm claims that its units are extremely dependable and have yielded a FIT price of < 1—that means lower than 1 half per billion hours fails in area functions. These units are pushed similar to widespread silicon super-junction MOSFETs with off-the-shelf gate drivers.


The Future of PSUs in Crypto Mining

Power provide items, and significantly GaN-based PSUs, might play a pivotal function in mining knowledge facilities ought to cryptocurrency stay on its present trajectory.

Just as NVIDIA recently announced a new GPU line dedicated to crypto mining, so too has Transphorm tapped into GaN PSUs expressly designed for this power-intensive software. It’s doable that extra producers will hop on board with mining-specific elements to preserve choices for much less demanding computing functions.



Have you ever dabbled in {hardware} design for cryptocurrency mining? What challenges did you face with the large vitality consumption? Share your ideas within the feedback under.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Daniel