News

Date added: 26 Mar 2014 Bitcoin Miners progress update – 26 March 2014

1.We progressed to The Minion’s 3rd substrate which has been approved and sent to manufacturing

2.The package house has received the minion probe cart wafer.

3.Global Foundries has confirmed the wafer out date. The date is currently 5 days later than their prediction however they are seeking to catch up by optimising the rest of the process.

4.The final version of the X3 hashboard and X1 backplane has been sent to the PCB factory for prototyping

5.The final version of X1 hashboard will arrive this week on Friday.

6.The development team are still optimising the control board. The initial testing is positive: (booting sequence for Linux, network protocols and WiFi connections are ok). The team will focus now debugging the LCD. Testing for the touchscreen should start soon.

7.The modifications to the current setup is dictated by the testing and the quality controls reporting by our teams and suppliers. We concluded the last update to X3 backplane and the case design due to moving the X3 PSU on the left hand side for better heat dissipation.

8.We have received 2 types of PSUs for X3 from 2 vendors, we are testing them.

9.We have started mass production of the heatsinks and X1 power supplies

10.We have received the mounting screw with springs for the heatsinks. After a thorough review the spring technical specifications are not satisfactory. We continue to upgrade the design accordingly and we expect the samples to be ready in 10 days.

11.We approved the design for X3 case and we are in process of negotiating the time frame with our short-listed suppliers.

12.We should complete the final specifications for the fans by the end of this week.

13.We had a demanding schedule in visiting all our suppliers for quality checks and for tracking the agreed aggressive deadlines

14.We are in the final negotiations with our manufacturing partner for power chips. We are seeking a reliable supply of the power chips.

15.We finalised the search for the new facility which will help increasing the power for Rent-A-Minion service. We’re planning to start setting it up as early as next week.

16.The team working on the Scrypt chip continue their busy schedule. They had some new addition to the team to help with the increasing workload.

17.We received a lot of enquiries regarding the LTC chip. The Management decided to focus on delivering the Bitcoin miners currently scheduled and postpone the LTC pre-orders until they have time available to deal with customer support issues that usually arise upon launch of a new complex product.

Date added: 20 Mar 2014 Bitcoin Miners progress update – 21 March 2014

1. Global Foundries have finished the test wafers which were subsequently shipped to Amkor.

2. Amkor and VeriSilicon decided to redesign the substrate. This should be finished by tomorrow but there is no confirmation at the moment if a slight delay of few days will incur. As it stands we might still be able to keep on track for the tight schedule.
3. 5 case factories fitted our strict criteria and succeeded in making our shortlist. We will decide shortly which one(s) will be able to meet our high quality demands and meeting our aggressive deadlines. Payment was already made to cover the required samples.
4. We produced a prototype case for X1 which was made of steel. We are not planning to replace the original design but we came up with this as plan B in case in case the plastic mould won’t be finished on time for Batch1.
5. We have received the 1600 Watt PSU from Power-One, will test this week.
6. We have tested the hashboard sample and other PCBs we've produces so far in a laboratory environment. Despite the lab samples are not meeting all our design requirements to 100% we are happy to report that all perform properly. We are currently negotiating with our suppliers to increase the quality checks for producing much better quality boards.
7. We have tested the (under-spec) X1 hashboard PCBs and it can deliver 130Amperes. We were targeting 140Amperes but the problem appears to be in the coil not in the PCB. We’re getting new coils tomorrow for further testing. As a reference, VeriSilicon’s projected consumption is 100 Amperes in worst case scenario (high leakage) but we want to make sure that we can overclock the chip.
8. Finishing the boards takes longer than we’ve expected. For this reason we’re not sure if we have time to finish the 200Amperes board.
9. We have corrected several schematics and layout issues in the X1 hashboard and X1 backplane and started manufacturing the new samples
10. Following case review we have added a fan connector to the X3 hashboard. We haven't taped out the X3 hashboard yet as we will have to be sure that the X1 hashboard performs properly.
11. The control board boots Linux partially. There are some drivers missing or misconfigured and we need to fix some bugs in schematics. We're now reworking it to change the main connector and fix schematics bugs.
12. X3 backplane has not yet been finished due to modification of the control board.
13. We’ve started work on our Bitcoin/Litecoin pool.
14. We got the BTC refund document back from our solicitors. We are updating few legal and we should be able to release this as early as tomorrow.
15. BTC/LTC and PPC payment processor is now online, ready to process orders. Still making some cosmetic adjustments. It took longer than we’ve anticipated but we’re happy how it works.
16. Front End for the LTC chip is now stable. We’re starting the back end as soon as possible and we’re going to start pre-orders soon.
17. We’re looking into providing schematics as reference design for our ASIC in order to gather more interest from 3rd party manufacturers.

Date added: 13 Mar 2014 Bitcoin Miners progress update – 13 March 2014

1.We have approved the 2nd review of the Minion substrate and it has been taped out. Chip packaging is on schedule.

2.We have encountered roadblocks in the X1 and X3 case design due to not all parts being in hand, we are working with 2 factories to solve them.

3.We have received and partially assembled the control board and X1 backplane board. We have received today the X1 hashboard and we will start assembling it.

4.Based on reviews we have made some schematics changes to the current boards therefore new boards are on pipeline.

5.We have visited the heatsink factory. We have paid and started manufacturing the heatsinks for all current orders.

6.We have received the PSU for X1, visited the PSU factory and have paid today the X1 PSUs. X3 PSU sample is scheduled to be delivered after 1 week. X1 PSU: Image1, Image 2, Image 3

7.Automatic BTC payment system is still under review. We are taking extra time to review the code to ensure that we’re not losing coins.

8.Customer support:

a.We are still lagging behind and have a queue of 700 tickets. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience please bear with us until we get this sorted. Our most experienced agent (Julia) is in maternal leave, the next experienced one (Alexey) is working on the case half time and the 3rd one (Sylvia) is in training. We have one other agent (Matt) working part time, remotely, but his limited time does not allow him to make much progress.

b.Customers must understand that our headquarters from China do not have access to Facebook. This account is maintained from abroad and they are unable to access any customer support issues.

c.Few customers have requested refunds. Please rest assured that we will refund the USD in May and we are trying to refund BTCs sooner but we are waiting for a legal document which was not returned yet. Please note that customers opening more tickets will just get you back to the end of the queue as we reply the tickets in the reverse order of activity.

Gallery

Date added: 05 Mar 2014 Bitcoin Miners progress update – 05 March 2014

05 March 2014 - Bitcoin Miners Production Update

    1.Global Foundries has informed us that Minion wafer manufacture is starting tomorrow. This is 1 week ahead of schedule, therefore we’ve recovered the 3 days delay in tapeout and we’re 4 days ahead of schedule.

    2.We have completed the minion substrate package design

    3.Received confirmation that probe card wafers will be completed next week and sent to packaging house

    4.X1 backplane size was corrected and re-sent to the factory

    5.Completed re-design of the X3 hash board, pending review

    6.We have visited the heatsink factory, approved the X1 & X3 heatsink design and have started the moulds.

    7.We have met with power supply factory representatives and have signed the final documents to start the manufacturing

    8.X3 case review came back from the case factory, we still need to address some minor details for improved performance

    9.Completed thermal simulations for X3 case, now running thermal simulations for X1 case

    10.Completed CS-CART payment processor for LTC, BTC and PPC, pending final review to get it online

Date added: 26 Feb 2014 Bitcoin Miners progress update – 27 February 2014

27/02/2014 - Production Update

1. Minion tapeout was completed. The final power consumption for the whole chip is 0.75W/Ghash @ TT corner. When using at SS corner (lower voltage) it should use 20% less (0.6W/Ghash)

2. X1 Hashboard and Control Board have been sent to the factory on Monday.

3. X3 Hashboard design is complete. Will not send to factory until X1 hashboard test is complete.

4. X1 Backplane design is almost ready. We expect to send it to the factory next Monday.

5. Completed the X3 case preliminary design; It was sent for review.

6. We are running thermal simulation to determine the best airflow for X1 and X3.

7. Meetings with Verisilicon and Amkor.

8. Expanded our office and we are actively looking to grow our designer teams.

9. Progress has been made towards USD refunds. We hope to be able to provide the refunds within the next week or so.

Pending:

- Waiting for heatsink factory to provide us with the final samples.

- Waiting for the PSU factory to provide the samples.

- Document for BTC withdrawals still not ready due to lack of time.

Date added: 23 Feb 2014 Minion ASIC - Tapeout complete

23/02/2014: We are happy to report that VeriSilicon has completed our Minion ASIC yesterday and taped out to Global Foundries today.

Black Arrow is working hard to improve the existing designs of our miners and ensure that the pre-ordered miners will be assembled and dispatched immediately after the chips arrive from the factory.

Date added: 20 Feb 2014 Bitcoin Miners progress update – 20 February 2014

20 February 2014

    1.Following Verisilicon’s tapeout final review meeting it was decided that they need to update the IO and metal according to Analog IO team requirement. VeriSilicon needs additional 36 hours to extract the final specification of GDS and run STA. At the same time FE needs to run POSTSim based on the final Netlist. As this is a 100 million gate design it requires intensive CPU support. VeriSilicon agreed to work over the weekend to maintain our working schedule and are confident that the files will be sent to the factory in 36 hours.

    2.We finished the hash board for X1. We will review and send to the factory tomorrow. The board was designed for a maximum of 160A (exceeding the 88A @ 0.85V required).

    3.Each X3 module will use 5 hashboards and will have 2 Minion ASICs. This solution was chosen to support the high current (up to 33 Amperes @ 12V) required by the power chips. Another issue which we had to overcome was the fact that the smaller connectors already available on the market were either too big or had too few pins to support a single ASIC hash board 35mm wide. We are in the process of designing 2 different boards for the X3 hashboard: 2 x 160A and 2 x 200A to support extreme overclocking. The final decision of which PCB we will use will be taken after we’ve tested the real silicon.

    4.We have finished the control board for X1 & X3 and will send it tomorrow to the factory. 3 months ago we decided against using Raspberry PI or Beagle Bone. RPI proved too unreliable during extensive usage and none of them would satisfy our requirements. We’ve opted instead to design our own board based on ARM chip. This task was equivalent of designing a whole new Raspberry PI and was major design work. We are convinced that our customer will benefit the extra features.

    5.We have entrusted AMKOR for packaging the Minion. We had several meetings last week in order to choose the best package and have decided to go with Stiffener FCBGA instead of Lidded FCBGA as previously announced; this package provides better cooling performance and will have extra capacitors on the substrate.

    6.We’ve maintained a very busy meetings schedule with VeriSilicon to clarify the PO and packaging.

    7.Following the feedback of our case designers we have hold a meeting with the PSU factory and agreed:

    a.To shorten the PSU for the X1 with 10mm in order to get closer to our 200x200x70mm case target.

    b.To reduce the height of the X3 PSU by 20mm in order to be able put the Ethernet connector in the back of the case.

    8.We have increased the heatsink fins thickness to 0.5mm, asked the factory to produce 2 samples (1.8mm spacing and 2mm spacing).

    9.We have met with potential resellers but this cannot go on. We receive so many meetings requests and unfortunately we will have no option but to decline them as our management team has more pressing issues to deal with currently; our commitment is with our existing customers and ensuring the sold products are delivered. We will review this process at later stage.

    10.Two months ago we have decided to add up extra features for Prospero products and we’re developing them. The project is on schedule and we aim to have a beta version by 1st of May.

    11.We have synthesised our FPGA LTC code and it is mining correctly with 4 cores.

    12.Our 1st line customer support team are struggling with the volume of messages posted by our customers. We have sent a representative to Philippines for few days for further training. The initial feedback is encouraging, the current procedures are currently under review and we expect improvements soon.

    13.The number of the messages on the forum is overwhelming and we are not in the position to address all of it. Despite all of our efforts we’ll only be able to answer only a proportion

    14.We have completed the design and manufacture of the banners for the Texax Bitcoin Conference. http://texasbitcoinconference.com/ . This announcement confirms that we will be present there; Minersource, Our reseller from USA, will represent us.

Published pictures

Date added: 18 Feb 2014 New reseller in Russian Federation

18 Feb 2014, Shenzhen, China: Black Arrow announces their 4th reseller and 1st reseller from Russian Federation:

XBtec has signed an agreement with Black Arrow to resell their products worldwide with the main target in Russian Federation and EurAzEs trade zone.

Date added: 12 Feb 2014 Bitcoin Miners progress update – 12 February 2014

Following customer feedback we will be posting regularly updates.

12 February 2014

1. Chip pinout complete. Received for review. We have confirmed to be ok.

2. Based on Verisilicon’s feedback we are upgrading the heatsink to the new specs

3. Improved X3 case to optimize functionality

4. Reduced the number of PCBs in X1 from 6 to 3 to improve reliability.

5. X1 hashboard has been reworked to support higher power consumption. We are now at version 3. Layout completed, starting rerouting tomorrow.

6. X3 hashboard has been redesigned due to case improvements. Completed schematics of the 3rd version of the board. Starting layout after routing of X1 board

7. Control board has been redesigned to use PCI connector instead of flat cable for improved reliability. Layout complete, rerouting tomorrow.

8. Aquired bespoke 3D printer. Initiated prototyping of new parts for improved functionality in X3.

9. Meeting with VeriSilicon

10. Tapeout reconfirmed on 20 Feb 2014

11. Package confirmed

12. Delivered all final details regarding case, heatsinks and fans, running final thermal simulation, due to be received at the end of this week

Date added: 01 Feb 2014 New reseller in Australia

01 Feb 2014, Shenzhen, China: Black Arrow announces their 3rd reseller and 1st reseller from Australia:

Rival Networks has signed an agreement with Black Arrow to resell their products worldwide with the main target in Australia and New Zealand