20.10.2019

A look at the living legacy of the Antminer S9 SE & S9k

The Antminer S9 launch coincided with the starting gun for the great bitcoin bull run of 2017, which led to never-before-seen highs of $19,783. Much like Bitcoin, it has remained a strong part of the cryptocurrency industry ever since. 

During the spike in mining activity leading up to 2017, hardware was struggling to keep pace with the difficulty of the algorithm, as many miners joined the industry.

The launch of the Antminer S9 in May 2016 offered improvements of up to three times on existing models, which marked a change in delivering a higher hash rate without decreasing energy efficiency.

Able to mine under the SHA256 algorithm at a rate of 14 TH/s, the S9 quickly came to dominate the cryptocurrency mining industry, with each batch selling out within a few hours. It offered a significant increase in ROI – one that was unparalleled by other miners at the time.

Ever since, the Antminer S9 has remained in high-demand, as seen with ongoing requests about the next batch.

In fact, the Antminer S9 remains one of the most used miners ever up to this very day. It was the world’s first Bitcoin miner to make use of 16nm chips, a powerful chip that continues to power the world’s most power-efficient bitcoin miner.

Launching a new generation of Antminer S9 models marks the perfect opportunity to review the progress made since the first S9 hit the market.

Evolution: The next steps

Antminer Series Evolution

Launched at the height of the bull run, Bitmain engineers worked tirelessly to improve the Antminer S9’s performance.

The team managed to release the Antminer S9i just a year later, on May 2018, followed by the improved Antminer S9j, mere months later in August 2018. Each model offered an improved hashing rate of 14.5Th/s, whilst achieving a reduction in energy consumption.

In that same August, Bitmain started to experiment with more ecologically minded means of running and cooling down miners with the Antminer S9 Hydro and its water-cooling system. It was able to operate with a hashrate of 18 TH/s, whilst maintaining a lower noise level and running an improved cooling mechanism.

In this period of intense growth, it was important for the mining community to be supplied with the best technology there was, without diverting too much from industry-wide long-term goals and developments.

Entering a new chapter

With no sign of demand for the S9 models slowing, Bitmain has continued to work on making this model more efficient and more affordable than ever.

A new design structure was introduced for the S9 Special Edition (SE) and the S9k, achieving an enhanced performance whilst limiting power consumption. The S9k hashes at a rate of 13.5 TH/s, with a remarkable power-efficiency rating of 85 J/TH.

The S9 SE takes it one step further – delivering a hashrate of 16 TH/s whilst achieving an even better power-efficiency rating of 80 J/TH, and only weighing in at a modest 4.5kg, making it the most energy efficient of the Antminer S9 series.

The original Antminer S9 was revolutionary at the time with its 14 TH/s hash rate, but demanded 100 J/TH; an additional 15-20% more energy, which eats into mining profits.

The Antminer S9 SE breaks even a bit over 3 months – based on the price of Bitcoin at the time of this writing. That said, miners with access to cheaper electricity or renewable energies can be seeing pure profits even earlier. This is a marked improvement on the standard set by the S9, and one that will be continually improved on.

In such a rapidly-evolving space as cryptocurrency mining, engineers never know where exploratory developments will take them, so it’s always an exciting day to unveil an improved product.

As new means of mining continue to be developed, it is important to uphold the legacy of the models that paved the way.

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