In recent months, USB bitcoin miners have seemed increasingly like curiosities from a more innocent age. With the massive growth in mining difficulty (10,455,720,138 at the time of writing, and rising fast), a 1 or 2 GH/s USB stick simply can’t compete with a dedicated ASIC mining rig running in the TH/s range.
If they’re profitable at all after the retail price and the cost of electricity, it’s usually a matter of pennies per day. While this can be a fun, low-cost way for hobbyists to play around with bitcoin mining, the era of commercially produced USB miners appears to be drawing to a close.
If HexFury has its way, however, low-cost USB miners might just be making a comeback. Powered by six current-generation BitFury ASIC chips, the HexFury runs at a respectable 11 GH/s. TechCrunch’s John Biggs got his hands on one, and reported that it consistently hit about 12 GH/s.
He also noted:
“It looks like an overgrown thumb drive with exposed innards, which should give owners of inquisitive cats pause.”
The HexFury is theoretically hashing fast enough to generate about 0.018 BTC per month at current difficulty. That’s about $10 at current prices, meaning you’d need a little over a year and a half (at stable difficulty) to break even on the $200 miner.
While that’s a hard sell to an experienced bitcoin miner, it might be just the thing for a hobbyist. As Biggs noted:
Home mining, at this point, is more about the experience of mining than any real money making. … As these things catch up with higher-powered units, it’s only a matter of time before we can all make a few BTC a month with something the size of a stick of gum.
Written on 28 May 2014.