Bitmain’s Antminer S9 has been a ubiquitous machine for crypto miners since its release in 2016. In late 2019 into 2020, the prevalence of the S9 in mining is decreasing. The soaring hashrate & prevalence of more competitive hardware may be factors.
- The S9 changed crypto mining with its efficiency and hashpower
- Despite a strong presence in the market, the S9 is facing a steep decline in mining pools
- The soaring hashrate & newer hardware may be factors that are pushing miners to other, more powerful and efficient machines
Rise of the Antminer S9
Bitmain’s Antminer S9 has been one of the most prevalent crypto mining rigs in the market for both hobbyists and enthusiasts with a hash rate of 11.83 TH/s to 12.93 TH/s -+ 7% and a power efficiency of 0.1 J/GH. It is nearly 3 times as powerful as its predecessor, the S7, and was renown as the most cost-efficient miner in the market.
The S9 continued to rank among the top 6 mining hardwares up through mid 2019. In January, nonce patterns associated with the S9 miner were still prevalent in BTC mining charts. In the graph below provided by Tokenanalyst, the abnormal pattern that emerges just before block 400,00 correlates with the release of the Antminer S9 and continues into 2019, suggesting that the S9 was one of the most dominant pieces of hardware used for BTC mining in its time.
Rising hashpower & difficulty in BTC
The hash power & difficulty of BTC has been increasing exponentially, and between 2016 and 2019, much of this increase may be attributed to the S9. In June 2016, right after the release of the S9, the BTC mining difficulty was at .2T (T as in Trillion). Since then, the mining difficulty rose over 34 times to 7.4T at its peak in October of 2018. This may not be entirely attributed to the S9, but given the prevalence of the abnormal nonce patterns suggest that the S9 played a significant role in the increase of the current hashpower between 2016 and late 2018.
From 2019 to the present (February 2020), the btc mining industry has increased nearly trifold. 2019 started with a mining difficulty of around 5.6T and rose to above 13.7T in late December. In January, it has increased to above 15.1T in the past month.
Decrease of the S9 in an ever competitive environment
With the exponential growth of BTC’s hashpower & subsequent difficulty, miners are looking to add as much hashpower with as much efficiency as possible, which is likely one of the sources behind the S9’s apparent decline in prevalence in mining pools.
The fall of the S9 was inevitable with new technology boasting more efficient hashpower for miners. In January, 2019, Bitmain released the S17 line using Bitmain’s BM1397 7nm mining chips, with a hashpower ranging from 50 to 56TH/s and an efficiency rating ranging from 36 J/GH to 45 J/GH, providing miners who have electricity prices in mind with a significantly more efficient option.
Bitmain’s own S17 and other competitive offerings from OEMs such as Innosilicon’s T3-43T have surely been the source behind the tri fold increase in hashpower since early 2019. This suggests that the Antminer S9 has gone from comprising a significant portion of BTC’s hashpower to a small fraction.
2020 may continue the current exponential growth in hashpower which will increase the demand for more efficient mining machines, especially in the face of the upcoming reward halving.
Written by: Nate Christenson
Crypto mining journalist & eCommerce Program Manager