Some people purchase their crypto and some work to earn them. Then there are the other; the one who make the cryptosphere work; the miners.
Mining is done on small scale through faucets and micromining software; and, on a much larger scale through vast hardware mining operations. While most of us cannot afford a multi million dollar investment to start a mining operation, there are more affordable options; like the Antminer A3. At around $1,000 you can purchase the A3 at any number of places online. This gives you one of the most powerful pieces of mining hardware in that price range. But, before you drop a grand on this miraculous little piece of hardware there are some things you must think about first.
When people hear the words "crypto mining", most immediately think of bitcoin mining; which uses the SHA-256 hashing algorithm. The Antminer A3 uses the Blake(2b) hashing algorithm to mine Siacoin. Siacoin? For those of you who have never heard of this crypto, it is esentially a blockchain-based data storage system. Think Ethereum meets DropBox. If you have never owned Siacoin before, never fear. A quick check of my favorite instant exchanges shows fast, easy conversion to BTC, ETH, or any of your favorite cryptos via ShapeShift. So, if you are comfortable using a new crypto and/or having one strictly for conversion; the Antminer A3 could be the answer to your mining needs.
Bitmain, the company who brought us the Antminer S9, released their new ASIC miner, the Antminer A3 in January of 2018. Thusfar it is gaining a relatively impressive following; possibly due to the popularity of their S9 bitcoin mining hardware.
Let's get straight to the point by exploring the question everyone has on their mind at this point - is the Antminer A3 a profitable piece of hardware?
While the Antminer A3 is significantly more powerful than existing mining hardware running the Blake(2b) algorithm, this initial burst of profitability won't last. The problem here is increasing difficulty. When you mine a crypto successfully, you mine a block. As each block is mined, the difficulty of the next block is higher because the previous block must be included in the mining process to create the new block; and so on and so forth. What does this mean for the A3? Well, as fast and powerful as this hardware is, as these machines are put into use around the globe, more Siacoin will be mined, faster than it has been before. More blocks are created in a short amount of time; increasing the difficulty in the mining algorithm at a relatively fast pace. So, while the Antminer A3 may pay for its $1,000 price tag, it may soon become obsolete as the Siacoin blockchain grows. We saw this happen with the Dash mining boom in the summer of 2017. And, I expect to see it here as well; it is the mining trap of all cryptos.
However, as of today, the 26th of April 2018, if you mine Siacoin with the Antminer A3 you can produce around $12,000 per year (before paying the cost of the equipment and electricity). But, this profitability could drop over the coming weeks/months as more people purchase, and begin to use, their own A3's. That decrease could be 60-90% over the coming 6-12 months. This will lower the Antminer A3's profitability to the level of the D3, which currently produces around $350-$400 per year before costs.
The Siacoin team itself has taken notice of the release of the Antminer A3. In fact, they have considered creating a fork to nullify the A3 by changing the underlying algorithm. At last report that idea has been shelved. But, the fact that the Siacoin team is concerned with the possibility of a negative impact on the coin and blockchain leads me away from recommending or using this hardware.
Then there are the competitors to the Antminer A3.
At the moment the Antminer A3 looks to be the only Blake(2b) ASIC miner on the market. However, Halong Mining has announced its intention to release one soon that is purportedly about 3 1/2 times more efficient than the A3. This would cause Siacoin mining difficulty to increase even faster, driving the A3's profitability down even further.
So, while the Antminer A3 seems to be an amazing opportunity for profitable mining, I cannot recommend this equipment for a long term investment as the outlook seems bleak in my assessment. IF the A3 holds its $1k/month production level it will take 2 months to pay off the equipment and electricity and begin to show a profit. And, that's a big IF when considering increased difficulty and the possibility of competition coming soon.
All in all my assessment of the Antminer A3 being the most powerful crypto mining equipment; my vote is NOT. After all, having power means nothing if the power destroys the machine it runs and the potential for damage to the Siacoin blockchain through use of this hardware is simply too great to ignore.
Even discounting those concerns, the mere fact that the massive resources wielded by the Antminer A3, and the equally massive drop in profitability as these machines begin driving up the mining difficulty, means that the chances of making money with this hardware is almost certainly limited to the team at Bitmain, its creator. This adds nothing to the cryptosphere. And, if you're not helping the cryptosphere grow in a positive way, you are hurting it. Cryptos are about creating our own stable, decentralized financial world; not about quick, instant profits for companies to the detriment of individuals, the coins/tokens, the blockchains and the cryptosphere itself.
For these reasons, I'm giving the Antminer A3 a thumbs down for long term, positive, profitable use. Whether you take my recommendation or not; good luck with your mining, and your crypto adventures.
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