WHAT MAKES AN ASIC MINER BETTER?
ASIC miners differ from a graphics card or CPU mining system in that those more general pieces of hardware are designed to do more than one thing. They also just happen to do it better than anything with a more general purpose focus.
When it comes to mining cryptocurrencies, all that really matters is that the cryptocurrency you mine is worth more than what you spend on hardware and electricity. Those margins can be closer than you might think, because mining cryptocurrency can be expensive. Hardware can be costly to buy up front, and some of it can cost thousands of dollars a year in electricity to run.
So when it comes to the mining hardware you choose, having more efficient systems is incredibly important. That’s where ASIC miners come in. Since they are designed from the ground up to perform the calculations required by a specific cryptographic hash algorithm used by an individual, or handful of, cryptocurrencies, they are incredibly efficient at doing so. They’re powerful — offering a high “hashrate” — and energy efficient, using far less power than a more general piece of hardware might do for the same task.
This combination of performance and low-power usage makes them much more economical to run than more general purpose hardware. That’s why in the case of Bitcoin and Litecoin, ASIC mining is just about the only way anyone mines those cryptocurrencies any more. If the new Ethereum ASIC miner turns out to be just as successful, that could soon be the case for that popular cryptocurrency too.