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I have been looking for a device that would allow me to mine Bitcoins without too much noise and heat. Something relatively small that I could keep in a shelf without worrying too much about it.

A rig with GPUs is too noisy so I looked into FPGAs, but I have no idea what these devices are. From what I understand, an FPGA is just a card (like a GPU) so I would still need to keep a computer on 24/7, right?

So do I need special hardware/software to connect an FPGA to my computer or does it work like a GPU?

  • ...perhaps interesting for speculators here, about analyzing things. I am not sure how to plug in bitcoin data there. – user893 Jan 11 '12 at 15:05
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You would need a computer to program the FPGA, obtain the work units, distribute them to the FPGAs, collect the shares, and submit them back. If you're not using a mining pool, you'll also need the computer to generate the work unit, assemble solved blocks, and submit them to the Bitcoin network.

The computer won't be doing that much work. So you can use a very low-end machine and optimize it for low power consumption and low noise.

Cablesaurus built the first commercially available FPGA Bitcoin miner. There is a lot of innovation going on and what's available is changing rapidly, but most of the current designs are very similar to this design.

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    Might also be worth linking to the Open Source FPGA Miner project over on GitHub. It's specifically designed around a Terasic DE2-115 but other chips/boards might be doable with minimal tweaking. They also have a full set of instructions in their Readme.md – David Perry Sep 20 '11 at 22:41
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It depends on the board. There is a board that uses USB for its connection to the computer.

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From what I understand a full-blown computer might not be required. You need two things to mine on an FPGA - power and connection to the internet. First one is pretty self-explanatory, but as for the second one I`m not entirely sure whether you need a computer to connect them to the internet, or some other, similar device would suffice. As an electronic tech I think it is pretty likely that you can get FPGAs mining your coins without a "normal" computer, but I don't know much about this field.

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