According to data from Blockstream, the S17 series of BITMAIN Antminers are a big source of headaches for Bitcoin miners.
Samson Mow, the Chief Strategy Officer of Blockstream, announced that miners are reporting technical issues with these rigs that are leading to failure rates between 20-30%.
Since failure rates normally sit at about 5%, this is a massive disappointment for miners who have invested in these expensive products hoping for impressive ROI.
There are a few culprits, but a lot of the issues go back to problems with the way the heat sinks are mounted. The BITMAIN Antminer S17 heat sinks tend to loosen and fall off, causing chips to burn, hashboards to fail, and the rigs to short out. Unstable soldering and bad adhesive glue are to blame. See below, where a miner merely touches the heat sinks on an S17 unit, and they all cascade out of the machine.
Such weak bonds make the machines very difficult to ship safely, and they frequently arrive either broken or operating at reduced efficiency.
Another common issue is with the power supply fans on the S17. Fans are failing long before the end of their expected service life, exacerbating the heat mitigation problems that are already serious due to the heat sink issues. The high failure rates on S17 machines caused a rift between the co-founders of BITMAIN, Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan, which eventually resulted in Wu ousting Zhan from the company “to save this ship [from sinking].”.
A flurry of bad press on social media led BITMAIN to admit to the problems with the S17 series that generally require heat sink refits and in some cases have led to decommissioned machines. This was the first time the company had publicly acknowledged hardware challenges being faced by customers.
The issue even led to a partial refund program for some buyers — although at only up to $272 per unit, it was hardly enough to feel good about the initial $2,000-$3,000 price tag on the BITMAIN Antminer S17. Some individual customers reportedly even entered negotiations with BITMAIN over the difficulties with their hardware.
With up to a million S17/T17 miners manufactured (according to estimates based on TSMC purchase data), the issues with this model did significant financial and reputation damage to the company. With that said, later BITMAIN models have recovered from the unprecedented failure rates of 2019, and the company is still known as a global leader in cryptomining.
Specialists working with the S17 have uncovered some of the underlying issues with the soldering. BITMAIN used tin between heatsinks and chips in the Antminer S17 series, and high-temperature differentials led to crumbling in the tin. Small particles of tin would then get lodged in the legs of the unit’s chips, causing all manner of short-outs and permanent damage.
The adhesive glue in these models also has a tendency to dry out and no longer conduct heat properly away from the chips. It takes a BITMAIN-certified hash board specialist to properly retrofit heat sinks, rework the soldering, or reapply adhesive glue. Your service provider can also restore Antminer S17 hash boards by replacing damaged or malfunctioning chips.
These sorts of repairs can be costly and ongoing, however, leading to unwanted downtime. The best approach is usually to leverage a newer heat sink design that has become available for the 17 series and promises to bring stability back to your BITMAIN Antminer.
Repair companies in China are traditionally relied upon for this procedure, which includes the following steps:
However, shipping back and forth to an overseas repair provider is also expensive. Waiting for your machine to make its way around the world creates additional downtime, too.
Your best bet is to work with a BITMAIN-certified Antminer repair service right here in the USA. TEKMINING PROS provides the same expertise and quality of repair delivered by BITMAIN, including the installation and replacement of authentic S17 parts, but without the added costs and time of an international repair job. Have a faulty Antminer? Get in touch with us for a cost-efficient solution with priority customer service.