Butterfly labs (BFL) forum user Lab_Rat has made a trip to the BFL factory last week. Please read below for his summary of the trip. There are quite a few interesting tidbits of information and some great photos from his trip.
Last week I decided to plan out a trip to visit Butterfly Labs as I had a week off. Sunday night I drove 12 hours, stopped to visit family, then Tuesday 6/11/2013 headed out ~5AM and made the 6 hour drive to KC getting there just after 11AM. Josh seems to always be working later in the day had not gotten there yet, so I met some of the other BFL employees including the hard working CS team. I had asked if I would be able to take pictures with an answer of "Wait til Josh gets here, we don't know."
They showed me around the place and I saw the pick and place machine which was in the room they had racks for burning in units. They had 3 racks in that room which appeared to be able to handle a few hundred no problem with 8 hour burn in shifts allowing over 1k units a day to be burned in. I was walking back to the assembly and testing room which just after I walked in there, Josh came in. I spoke to him for a few and got to see a few Singles up and running. He then confirmed that "nothing is a secret anymore, it's all fair game" for pictures.
I only got a couple pictures before lunch, which was shortly after Josh got in.
When we got back it was all about the Bitcoin, I not only got pics of everything from every angle, but also met Gigavps and a few other people who are heavily invested in BFL. I had an interesting conversation with Giga about Litecoin FPGAs and a few projects he has going on to better the Bitcoin community and enhance miners experience.
I hung out at BFL until ~7:30 PM with Sonny and Josh and then proceeded to make the 6 hour drive back to where I was staying. Overall it was a very rewarding experience and an extremely long day.
All the technical and important information everyone has been craving as well as some clarifications and confirmations.
I think the best place to start is on their parts in stock...
They have everything they need in stock, the only holdup is them telling the assembly plant to go all out, which will start very soon (notice I didn't say should), I can not promise a date, because that depends on the date they get their final "test" long boards in which is supposed to be this week (I personally don't know and Josh is out of town today and tomorrow so I wouldn't expect an answer until at least Friday 6/14/13.
The only part that "could" be considered a hold-up but most people could do without would be the power brick for Singles and Little Singles. Yes I said power brick. It is a relatively large brick being custom made with a Y-cable ending with 2x6 pin plugs. The reason I said it is not really a hold-up is that the first Single went out without this brick... Most people that mine have at least one PSU around and almost all of those people have some 6 pin cables lying around. They said if it came to it and the bricks were delayed, they would give people the option to receive their units without a brick or wait until they get them in.
Next topic to cover should definitely be assembly.
They only had a couple people working while I was there, and they have confirmed they have a lot of people lined up to come in and work, but even with such a small crew assembling, they assembled and tested a couple hundred Jalapenos with ease. Those units probably shipped out today after being burned in or will be shipping out tomorrow. I don't see assembly being any sort of issue or bottleneck. A 3 year old with a torx set could put together these devices. They literally made them as efficient to put together as possible without making them snap together. The assembly on the Singles did take a little longer, but still nowhere near being a time issue. I probably could have put together over 50 Jalapenos in my spare time there.
Now on to shipping.
In the ~8 hours I was there I saw 2 people box up and ship out 2 large shipments with well over 100 orders... Notice orders, not Jalapenos, some of those orders had up to 4 Jally's each in them, and one of the 2 people who were working in the shipping dept was only on her second day working with BFL. Shipping by no means will be a bottleneck, they can box up thousands of orders a day with 6-10 people working a good day I would assume. I saw how MiniRigs are going to be boxed up. They have a machine which basically makes a hard foam pillow of which 4 will be placed surrounding a MR. This foam appeared to be able to form fit once put in place and it hardens. Once everything is boxed up and they have a full rack they can have USPS come pick up a load of boxes and continue packaging more.
Sonny and Josh both confirmed that within ~7 days after giving the order to go full steam ahead to the assembly plant they can receive thousands of units. So it is just a matter of time before we all have nice presents on our door steps. I see no problems with their entire process.
Now for a little bit about the specs on the gear and some pics of what you should expect in the coming weeks/months.
- The Little Singles and Singles are both long boards and will be contained in the "double wide" case. The only difference is the amount of chips. The firmware picks up empty spots on the board and just doesn't use those sockets. So how people have been asking whether or not they have tested Little Singles, them testing Singles tests both... They had about 8-10 Singles with unbinned chips (for those people who don't know what binning is, it's separating chips by quality) and they were all hashing above 60 gh/s except 1 which only hit 58, which is amazing by my standards. Imagine what one "could" do if it contained all grade A chips. The reason I say could is that the devices will be tuned down to 60, then 50gh/s +- 10% to reduce power costs of the devices and prolong their life.
- The only long boards that will see a great benefit are those going into the MiniRig. The most reasonable estimates right now show that 8 boards will have no problem hitting 500gh/s @ 2250W + ~50W for the fans if they're running full speed totaling 2300W for the new MR. The specs may be better, that is just the best numbers available.
- The Single SC will likely be pulling 270W @ 60gh/s which will then be lowered to 50gh/s once it hits that spec change. The power usage may not be quite linear, but it can be estimated it will pull ~225W maybe a little less.
- To any of the techies out there, you give the firmware a target clock speed for which it tries to find the best available speed close to that target, so some worse chips can't hit it, and some better chips go higher, but chips that aren't as good will shut down the bad engines to turn up the good ones, this process will be less noticeable once chips are binned as all chips on a board will be close to the same quality.