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Obelisk DCR1 Review – Everything You Need to Know

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Decred, the coin that was stably hovering around the $27 USD/DCR mark for about half year now is finally getting an ASIC, $100+ now.

This Blake-256 based coin is a popular choice for GPU mining. Some GPUs do great when dual mining Ethereum and Decred. Apparently, this won’t last for long.

Obelisk, a subsidiary of Nebulous, Inc – the same team who created Sia – is working on the first Decred ASIC.

Obelisk has already announced an ASIC for SIA coin, which is yet another GPU-minable crypto. Their SC1 ASIC in theory should hash at about 300 GH/s. However, according to latest news from the devs, the SC1 hashrate is expected to be at least 600 GH/s.

This should bring a definitive end to GPU SIA coin mining. Now, Decred apparently will experience the same changes. Let’s take a closer look at the upcoming DCR1:

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Obelisk DCR1 Specs

According to Obelisk, the DCR1 is being designed by CSS Custom Silicon Solutions® and TechEn Electronics®. CSS is a US-based company with more than 20 years of expertise in the field of ASIC design. The company already got several prototypes of the miner and they are working its final version.

The exact specs of the DCR1 are yet to be confirmed, though here is what we know so far:

  • DCR1 Hashrate: 475 GH/s*
  • Power Draw: < 500 W

(*) There is more to it; we will get back to it in a bit.

The power supply, as well as the power cable is included.

The miner is designed to operate at room temperature, which means that no additional cooling is required. It features a dual-fan air push-pull system and can operate while either standing up like an obelisk or lying down like a classic ASIC.

The dimensions are expected to be around 8x8x14 inches, though the exact size still got to be confirmed.

A Bit More on DCR1 Hashrate

According to a recent update, developers have concluded that the DCR1 will output at least 1 TH/s. This is way more than they’ve announced in the beginning. Now, will the new hashrate be reflected in the amount of money you will make with the ASIC?

Not really. Difficulty adjustments will more likely compensate this leap in global hashrate, leaving the share size the same no matter the hashrate of each individual unit. According to certain calculations, you will make the same money no matter whether your ASIC hashes 1 TH/s or 10 TH/s, as long as other ASICs hash the same amount as yours.

What this does mean is that the more each DCR1 unit hashes, the less room there will be left for GPUs.

The initial batch of DCR1 will be composed of 4000 units. That’s a total hashing power of 4000 TH/s, given the condition (a) all of them will be manufactured and sold, and (b) they will hash at 1 TH/s each.

This sole batch will probably raise DCR mining difficulty enough to make DCR GPU mining obsolete once and for all.

We should probably start considering switching BitcoinGold and other alternatives in the near future.

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DCR1 Pricing and Shipping

Each unit is priced $ 2500 USD and can be pre-ordered on the official Obelisk site. The presale is open ‘till November 24.

During that period, you get a $250 USD coupon for every unit you preorder. You can use the coupon later to buy more hardware from Obelisk.

Also, people who have bought the units during the presale will enjoy a 6-week (42 days) free mining period, during which no other ASICs will be added to the global mining pool. This will allow people to enjoy mining at relatively low difficulties, which will potentially result in more earnings during those first six weeks.

Orders are estimated to ship by June, 2018.

Pros

  • The team. The dev team is both a pro and a con. Here is why it is a pro – if the sources are true, the team behind Obelisk is the same one that created Sia. This might mean that they have all the motivation and expertise to create a working ASIC for their coin. Since Decred is architecturally really close to Sia Coin, it is now clear why Sia devs would also create an ASIC for Decred too.
  • Power Consumption. Developers promise to keep power consumption under the 500 W mark. The more they work on the ASIC, the more power efficiency they achieve.
  • Colocation (colo). Those of us who do not have the conditions to keep mining hardware at home will be able to rent a place where our DCR1 and SC1 ASICs will be kept and maintained by professionals. On their official page, Obelisk lists the already available companies with the respective rates and conditions. They promise to add more options soon.

Cons

  • The team. The main con is that we know little about the team behind Obelisk. Their ‘about’ page points out that the main developer is a 24-years old programmer who got little expertise on the field of ASIC creation. While everything can happen in the world of cryptocurrencies, there are reasons why many people do not trust Obelisk. Some people question the intentions of the team, while others are doubtful about its capabilities.
  • Centralization. While the team assures that the release of a DCR-oriented ASIC will actually enhance mining decentralization, there are reasons to think otherwise.
    • The main reason is that by hashing 1 TH/s, the batch of new ASICs will erase any GPU competency straight from the bat. This means that anyone who would preorder at least 2000 DCR1 units can have all the keys for a successful attack on the network.
    • The other reason is that by erasing all existing competency, DCR1 ASICs will be the only way of mining Decred for a while, until a third-party company decides to create their own DCR ASIC too. This will give Obelisk indirect control on DCR hashrate.
  • Important upfront investment. Another con is the amount of money we are supposed to invest into an ASIC that will be shipped in 7 months from now. 7 months is a lot of time for cryptocurrencies – hell, 7 months ago Decred was priced $ 9 USD/DCR for the first time after being below the $5 DCR/USD mark for one year and a half. At that point, no one knew the future of the coin. What will happen in 7 months from now on? Will Decred price go up three times once again as it did, or will it surge?

In Conclusion

The DCR1 is an ASIC with certain controversies. The way it is meant to remove Decred from the GPU-minable coins portfolio is indeed frustrating for the mining community, though we saw it coming. If it’s not Obelisk, then another company will eventually emerge to create the first Decred ASIC.

Now, is it a good idea to invest 2500 dollars into an ASIC that still got to see mass production? What if the team won’t be able to accomplish their goals?

Sadly enough, there is no definite answer to those questions. The DCR1 might be an interesting investment if 2500 dollars is a sum you can afford to lose. You can compare it to a 2500 dollar lottery ticket. After all, if the DCR1 will see the light of day, the 42 days free mining period might bring you quite a nice sum of money – especially if not a lot of people will buy the miner.

We all know that investing into an ASIC that will be shipped in 7 months is risky. The fact that the company is new makes things even riskier. However, in the world of cryptos, leaps of faith do pay off… sometimes.

Thank you for reading. As always, your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome.

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