ASIC Virtual Currency Miners
Virtual currency is a subset of cryptocurrency, a digital asset that is used as a method for transferring and exchanging digital currencies. There are four main virtual currencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Peercoin and Namecoin.
Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, are special pieces of hardware built to mine virtual currencies, such as Bitcoins, faster. ASICs mine faster than CPUs, GPUs and FPGAs, giving them a clear advantage to users.
ASICs are currently the fastest of the hashing machines, producing up to 1500 gigahashes as opposed to the standard GPU producing 1 to 2 kilohashes, making them desirable to potential miners. ASICs are also the most energy efficient per unit of hashing with most professional mining operations using ASICs.
The main downside to ASICs is that they come with a much steeper price tag than their slower counterparts. Users must also keep in mind the cost of cooling the ASIC as well as electricity, due to the hardware being used for prolonged periods of time for optimal mining. To overcome this, it is best to use additional fans to cool the hardware, alongside removing dust frequently. By doing this, miners are able to retain the fast mining speed of the ASIC.
To use an ASIC miner, the hardware must be connected and configured to a computer, from which it is also controlled. Usually, an ASIC is connected to a computer through a USB, and, with the use of USB hubs, it allows multiple ASICs to be connected at once.
Some virtual currencies are ASIC-resistant, which means that it is harder to create specialised hardware to mine them as there is no significant difference in speed when using an any of the mining hardware devices. In particular, Litecoins are noted to do be ASIC-resistant, and they are considered to be easier to mine because of this.