Originally Posted by Mfusick
How is a $308 machine so good and so cheap ?
Why can't that be replicated ?
This is actually an easy question to answer.
Development of an ASIC takes time. Anywhere from a few months to a year or longer in the case of major Bitcoin mining ASIC providers like Avalon and Butterfly Labs. Once the ASIC is developed, you need to have the chips produced. That also takes time, and no foundry is going to make your chips unless you're making in bulk. Minimum 10,000, but most foundries want 50,000+ to give your order any kind of serious consideration. This is the problem with Butterfly Labs right now. They've having chip supply issues (on top of power consumption issues). They have about 48,000 orders for their machines, which use multiple chips, but they apparently blew all their money they made with FGPA miners on other crap, so now they have to order 10,000 chips at a time and wait for their foundry to make them. At any rate, I digress.
Once your chip has been taped out and produced, then off they go to your assembly facility where you actually assemble them and the rest of the parts to produce your gadget, whatever it may be.
On top of this, you'd need knowledge of SHA-256 encryption, extensive knowledge of the Bitcoin source code, extensive knowledge of network protocols, and other areas of expertise to write yourself a Bitcoin mining program that could interface with your newly created ASIC chip as well.
To put it succinctly, all this device does is mine Bitcoins. That is all it will ever do. Unlike your CPU and GPU, it cannot be used to run Windows or play games or improve video output through processing. It is, quite literally, a Bitcoin miner, and that's all it is. That's why its cheap.