Reversing the USB Block Erupter – Closed

Well you can probably guess by now that this project has been abandoned as we move on to other things.  All in all, it looks like ASICMINER did something similar to Yifu and company, and started with the open source FPGA miner and built from there.  Cool stuff, but since the chip sends back winning hashes as they are generated, there’s no amount of PIC optimization that can speed up the hashing.  So we are off to new adventures, but we wanted to officially wrap this one up with the release of our schematics.

Really, this whole bitcoin ASIC explosion is a great story of some non-professional guys just getting together and taping out homemade SHA256 hash chips.  It’s incredible, and very inspiring.  What other applications could be absolutely commoditized if someone was willing to just sit down and synthesize an ASIC?  In the cases of Yifu (Avalon) and ASICMINER, they made shit tons of money, and when bitcoin exploded their customers made shit tons of money as well.  It’s likely that the manufacturers did way better than the miners, but the people with the 1st batch Avalons got ROI in weeks.  At whatever sub $100 value that bitcoin was at those days.  The amount of money they must have accrued by the $1200 Thanksgiving peak is simply astounding.  Go you!

Attached is our hand-traced schematic of the USB Block Erupter.  We don’t guarantee it’s accurate, but it’s probably pretty close.  Special thanks to all the collaborators that came out of the woodwork to help with this project.  We hope you guys also cashed out in the fall!

PDF Schematic of the USB Block Erupter

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Reversing the USB Block Erupter – Part II

So tracing and schematics are pretty much done.  It’s all very straightforward, and by the use of a few publicly-posted pictures (not ours, go searching for them) most of your questions on connectivity can be answered.

The next phase is snooping the buses while the device is hashing away, and seeing where and when we can match up bus activity with comms to the miner software.  So far, we have a lot of unknown lines doing a lot of unknown things.  But a little of it makes sense.

Here’s a glamor shot of some churning data, because we heard y’all love churning data.


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Reversing the USB Block Erupter – Part 1

With the help of an unnamed collaborator, reversing of the USB Block Erupter [sic] has begun.  Who knows if it will really go anywhere, but it will certainly be interesting to find out a bit more about this little number crunching maniac.


Phase I is tracing, II is snooping, and III is implementing possible improvements.  As you can see, we’re still in Phase I.  If you have a block erupter and are willing to take one for the team, email us through the contact page and we’ll figure out how you can help.

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