Bitcoin mining machines are hugely power inefficient. They burn hot and they need high cooling from large, fast inbuilt fan units. We recently had a customer asking to deploy 2 x BitCoin machines in our Data Centre with an expected power draw of “about 2 Amps per unit”. As a test, we set up just one machine in one of our test bays and connected our smart power monitoring equipment. One unit drew 11.5 Amps! On power consumption alone, we’d need to be charging over £1000 per month to host two small boxes.
It’s Not a Business
ChunkyChips has always prided itself on being a business-only ISP. Unfortunately the vast majority of BC miners are speculators at best, rather than legitimate companies. Worse, many prospects we talk to have very little technical knowledge of how the equipment works, so we would be expected to support the equipment once deployed. As BC Mining is still considered a fad at best, a bubble at worst, by most sound financial organisations, we can’t possibly accept the business risk of what happens if/when this bubble bursts and our customers lose interest in BitCoin colocation.
Let’s face it, Data Centre are noisy places. Servers work hard to process data and fans work hard to keep them cool, plus the added noise of the Air Conditioning units creates a general hum that you need to raise your voice to be heard over. Bitcoin units, on the other hand, sound like Jets taking off, right next to you. This is primarily down to the structure of the units and the huge fans used to try and keep them cool. Way too noisy for a small Data Centre like ourselves, and certainly to the detriment of our other visiting Clients.
We don’t trust the equipment
In our (admittedly limited) experience with BC machines, it seems the vast majority of actual equipment – let’s not go there with the amount of sites that purport to supply BitCoin mining equipment but never do – is mass-manufactured overseas, untested to any UK standards and shipped over via the greyest of grey markets to subsequently be installed in high end Data Centres such as ours. In short, we believe the equipment to be unreliable, bordering on dangerous. If this equipment should overheat in our data centre, 1000’s of pounds of safeguard equipment (Fire suppression, alarms etc), automatically triggers to protect everyone’s equipment. Are our speculators insured to cover the costs of this? Are they insured if their overheating equipment damages another customers equipment before the Fire Suppression kicks in?
What’s in it for us?
With the added risk to our business of volatile equipment, a decibel level to rival Black Sabbath in their prime and our potential support time in maintaining the kit, the best we’d ever get from hosting Bicoin equipment is the monthly recurring rate for our troubles. Admittedly, due to the nature of the equipment descibed above, this rate would be far higher than standard colocation, however the majority of this increase would be to just cover our costs, not recognise increased profit. Profit that could possibly dip once our Business customers realised they couldn’t even hear themselves think in the DC, or were aware of the safety risks to their own kit of hosting BC machines nearby.
There are some Data Centres that have built out specific units purely to host BitCoin mining, and have gone so far as to offer a “profitshare” plan to host at a reasonable price point, but with the caveat that they take a cut of any profits the BC machines might collect. This sounds like the ideal business model for speculative BitCoin miners. If you’re looking for a host for BC mining, this sounds like an excellent route to investigate.
Unfortunately, at the moment, it’s not for us.