What Does HW Error Rate Means and Why Is It Not So Bad?
Bitcoin hardware purchases have gone up significantly. So much that terms such as "HW error rate" sound like a foreign language to most newbies who are excited but confused as they enter the Bitcoin mining space. We attribute it to the rise in interest of outsiders in Bitcoin and new entrants to the Bitcoin mining community.
Many newbies may understand (vaguely) the basic technical terminologies that abound in the Bitcoin space. But, for the everyday stuff, they become quite confused. This is especially true with Bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin mining, together with all other cryptocurrency activities, is largely a do-it-yourself activity. Thus, it has prevented many people from joining in.
What Is HW Error Rate?
In the simplest terms, HW error rate refers to the hardware error rate that occurs because of a Bitcoin miners' mining activity; that is, solving the computational equation required for transaction confirmation on the Bitcoin blockchain).
These very difficult calculations require huge amounts of computational power.
Miners are always in a race to determine a value that is less than or, most times, the same with a specific hexadecimal value of 64 characters or lower.
Because of this, and other issues such as latency of internet connection when updating the Bitcoin blockchain, problems with the mining GPU (Graphics processing unit) due to continuous usage, and other physical factors, miners may display variations in hardware errors.
As long as the variations are minimal, there should not be a problem.
GPU Activities Produce a Lot of Heat
Many pieces of hardware that have computational activities always produce higher amounts of heat than regular processors. Since Bitcoin mining requires an outrageous amount of computing power (also called hash rate in the Bitcoin mining space), this is especially true.
It has been proven consistently that Bitcoin mining GPUs produce a phenomenal amount of heat when actively working on solving the Bitcoin computational calculation.
Therefore, HW error rates are a regular occurrence.
GPUs Have Preset Values
On a regular day, GPUs running on the Bitcoin mining network have zero HW error rates. The main reason for this is that the chipsets within the GPUs are running below their threshold values.
The problems only begin when the GPUs are above their optimal limits. For example, we may set the default computational value for a miner at 180 GHS/s.
With a miner having a nominal GPU chipset value of 350 MHz/s, the hash rate (computational value) can be increased to 200GHS/s by increasing the default chipset value to over 400 MHz/s.
It is possible to achieve this by changing these values in the default settings of the miner itself. People do it all the time.
They do it because they want to earn higher values of Bitcoins, which are allocated by the mining algorithm on the blockchain as a reward. And with the recent upsurge in Bitcoin prices, it is relatively easy to see why anyone would want to even ever so slightly overclock a Bitcoin miner.
Things may work well for a while, and the miner will produce the required results. However, after some time, HW errors will start occurring. These errors begin by indicating themselves in discrete values.
Why HW Error Rates Shouldn’t Worry You
Most people may think HW error rates are a huge issue. The truth is, all forms of hardware, from the mechanical to the electronic, have some form of latency.
In the case of Bitcoin miners, this latency rate usually occurs with an HW error rate of less than 1%. Anything over that indicates a serious underlying problem with the chipset in the miner itself. Many mining operations have seen error rates of more than 5%, the cost of replacements is usually much higher than others.
Chipset Efficiency Has Improved
Since 2009, when hobbyists ruled the cryptocurrency space, industrial manufacturing has taken center stage as Bitcoin prices continue to skyrocket.
With the continuous increases in the computational speeds as prescribed by Moores' law, industrial manufacturers have been able to beat the mining difficulty.
Now, we have standalone miners that can do the required job without the unnecessary energy burn. As a result of this increase in efficiency, HW error rates have also dropped on a large scale.
As a result, miners can do what they do best - make a profit by overclocking their chipsets. However, when the HW error rate keeps rising, there could be issues with the chipset itself. That is when the Bitcoin mining rig owner should be concerned.
Rising HW Error Rates Can Be an Issue
The one time when HW error rates can be an issue is when the HW error rate consistently rises. An increase within a specific timeframe shows that there may be an underlying problem with the chipset.
Apart from overclocking, sometimes, chipsets have design flaws that have nothing to do with the miner and can only be dealt with by the original manufacturer.
Voltage Can Also be an Issue
Different countries have different voltages in terms of power supply. If we set the mining hardware for a lower voltage range and the miner is operating at a higher frequency range, HW errors are bound to occur.
Even with all the "step-up" equipment installed, the Bitcoin miners will still have issues. The reason for this is that the alternating current, though converted to direct current, may have a different frequency for which the Bitcoin miner is designed.
As a result of this, there will be discordance between the miner and the power supply source.
The chipsets will work but will have discrete errors. For example, the United States has a standard power supply voltage of 110 Volts at 60 Hz while most European countries have a standard frequency of 240 volts at 50 Hz.
If a miner that is manufactured in Europe is shipped to the United States and the voltage is stepped down, the miner will still have issues.
The reason is that they are designed for mining operations with voltages converted to direct current at 50 Hz. The reverse happens as well.
Consider Resetting Your Hardware if Things go South
Behaving like a hero and expecting your hardware functions to be rectified works in some cases. In other cases, however, consider a BIOS and firmware reset for your miner if things are going badly.
A reset brings back the default settings of the hardware, allowing the miner to function on factory settings rather than on the preferred settings of the operator. A reset can bring tremendous advantages to the Bitcoin mining operation.
And it may be one particular aspect of those settings that are generating the HW error rate.
Watch Where You Buy Your Hardware
Several Bitcoin mining hardware manufacturers have had internal issues. These internal issues have led to poor Bitcoin miner quality. Machines produced by such companies are of poor quality. Buyers across the internet make complaints about such manufacturers.
Stories of heat sink dropping, incomplete soldering of chipsets, and mining hardware that suddenly go off are some of the horror stories that pervade the space.
Great hardware manufacturers always have great prices, reviews, and a great return policy to boot. The lousy ones always have bad reviews, corporate drama, and poor hardware.
They also have zero return policies which can be terrible if the manufacturer is in another country. Getting your hardware from a reputable and legitimate company is the only way you’ll have a good experience.
Keep Tweaking Your Operations
Just like in any other business; you should have room for a little creativity when mining Bitcoin. The great thing is that the factors that lead to the successful mining of the cryptocurrency are limited.
Tweaking the operational conditions of your mining operations should be a simple affair. Try tweaking one or two conditions that aren’t critical and see what happens.
Things like lowering temperatures, overclocking, and slight voltage adjustments are just some of the experiments you can try to see if your miner will improve.
If it does, keep watching the statistics and the HW error rates (if any appear).
If none appear then, you can keep tweaking those conditions to see how the mining operations change over time.
By and large, having HW error rates doesn't mean it is the end of the road. You can dig up under the hood and find out if the error rates are too high and if they are too frequent. There’s usually an easy solution to the problem so stay calm and know that it’s probably nothing to worry about.
Join the Largest Mining Pool in Texas
If you would like any more information about starting or expanding your Bitcoin horizon; reach out to us at Mining Syndicate. Our mission is simple: Strengthen the Bitcoin network by enabling small-scale miners to affordably purchase and reliably host miners.
As a small miner, Chris became frustrated by the lack of hosting options available for miners with under 100 units. As luck would have it, he found a 2.5MW mining facility for sale right down the road, and thus, Mining Syndicate was born. Facilities #2 and #3 are already in the works.
Why is Mining Syndicate so successful? Because we have a team of people who are just like you, eager to be a part of the future of mining. If you would like more information about how you can be a part of Mining Syndicate, how our facility works, or the products we sell, you can reach out to us here.
We look forward to hearing from you - together we are stronger!