Filecoin Mining: What are the advantages of 12Ships’s Hardware Solution?

5 min readNov 13, 2020

How to evaluate the performance of a Filecoin miner?

Filecoin miners are competing with their ability to store data, transfer data, and seal sectors, such as the total amount of storage, the speed of retrieval, the bandwidth of transmission, and latency. Filecoin miner components include CPU, GPU, RAM, SSDs, and HDDs, similar to a high-end server plus the optional storage units.

As Filecoin’s mining code is still updating. Therefore, if the miners haven’t done enough market research, they may encounter unreliable manufacturers and buy low-quality, high-priced miners. Even if the manufacturer is reliable, the brand-name miners are often accompanied by higher costs, such as sale costs, operating costs, and brand premiums.

In general, it is more cost-efficient and less risky to build mining hardware by yourself. Based on Vancores’ mature technical strength in IC R&D by profession, the 12Ships team has sufficient in-house technical capacity in both hardware and software solutions.

Besides, cost performance is usually taken as a reference standard. Most people think that performance refers to the average of every 1000 us dollars to get the HDD size of an assembly mining machine. But there actually exists some misunderstandings. In fact, the size of the HDDs of the mining machine does not matter. The core performance factor is the sealing speed, which is the speed at which the miners interact with the blockchain network and completes the Proof-of-Replication (PoRep) and Proofs-of-Spacetime (PoSt) in the mining process. Moreover, after the completion of sector sealing, the efficiency of block generation is another indicator to be considered.

According to the officially released Engineering Filecoinʼs Economy, which preliminarily determined the mining economic model of the main network. Above all, three key points are highlighted, namely the penalty mechanism, the number of mining rewards, and the miner collaterals. The economic models for miners are extremely strict, with a low mining amount, ultra-high collaterals, and extreme penalty for miners’ faults. It creates a sufficient economic deterrent for the manufacturers who hyped the exaggerated computing power and storage capacity, without considering the security and stability.

12Ships’s Filecoin Mining Hardware Solution

  • CPU:AMD EPYC 7542 32-Core
  • SSD:Intel P4510 8TB
  • HDD:36 x 14T
  • GPU:RTX 2080 Ti 11G
  • RAM:512 GB

12Ships has published to the community about its self-developed and assembled Filecoin mining hardware resolution. We will elaborate on the configuration logic and advantages of the hardware resolution.

(1) The Best CPU Selected With Reference to the Official Benchmark

Filecoin’s consensus algorithm has two mechanisms: Proof-of-Replication (PoRep) and Proof-of-Spacetime (PoSt). The goal of PoRep is to ensure that miners do indeed have a backup of certain data on their storage devices, and PoSt’s goal is to make storage miners demonstrate continued storage within the promised duration.

Sealing a sector through PoRep is a computation-intensive process that results in a unique encoding of the sector. PoRep mining is divided into three stages: Firstly encode the data, and then compute the hash of the encoded information, the final stage is to generate a zero-knowledge proof protocol for the encoded information in case of the verification for Proof-of-Spacetime algorithm.

As stage 1 is single-threaded work which takes a long time to compute, and stage 2 is dual-threaded work which means the CPU will be maxed out, it demands a high-performance CPU, which requires AMD chips and it must have SHA extensions for acceleration. The CPUs with SHA extensions can speed up the encoding process by 3–4 times.

There are a few CPUs that meet the requirements. Why 12Ships choose AMD EPYC 7542?

According to the latest updated official Benchmark, the best-proven model is AMD EPYC 7542 with the highest sealing speed among the 4 officially released hardware.

Furthermore, the 12Ships team is currently working on a way of making it practicable to use Intel CPUs to seal sectors by configuring the FPGA for acceleration. It will lower the hardware barrier to reduce the cost of mass production in the future.

(2) Adding GPU to improve hardware performance and testing the cluster mining

GPU’s current role is limited. CPU with multiple cores will not need to add GPU for now. Although it will definitely improve the performance more or less by adding GPU, the cost gets increased accordingly. Miners can choose to add GPUs based on algorithm adjustment in the future. But if the cluster size is large, the host computer should be equipped with GPU. 12Ships added the GPU and is currently testing the cluster mining.

(3) The networking structure is efficient and stable

Networking is also critical. Based on the R&D and test-mining, the 12Ships team found that the networking structure shown in the figure below can run efficiently and stably, which greatly improves the mining efficiency.

Note: The Hashrate of the Filecoin mining machine is calculated by effective storage, and effective storage requires a certain period of accumulation, so the Filecoin mining machine does not have a fixed Hashrate, only a certain period of Hashrate.

(4) Applicable to the newly upgraded algorithms

Filecoin officials said it would upgrade PoRep replication proof algorithms from Stacked Depth Robust (SDR) to Narrow Stacked Expander(NSE) to improve the issues of costs and retrieval delays. So is the current hardware solution compatible with the new algorithm?

Chase Wang, Chief Software Architect in the 12Ships team, said Filecoin’s requirements for high-frequency CPU would not change, and the CPU in the solution still has strong applicability for now. In fact, Filecoin mining requires high stability of the software system, and the differentiation of mining machine performance is more reflected in the software solution. 12Ships team will adjust and repair the software solution according to the official code of Filecoin in time, continuously upgrade the software solution and launch a complete distributed storage solution.




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