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Bitcoins pictures of butterflies

Just how many zeroes are required is a shifting parameter determined by how much computing power is attached to the Bitcoin network. Every two weeks, on average, the mining software automatically readjusts the number of leading zeros needed—the difficulty level—by looking at how fast new blocks of Bitcoin transactions were added.

The algorithm is aiming for a latency of 10 minutes between blocks. When miners boost the computing power on the network, they temporarily increase the rate of block creation. The network senses the change and then ratchets up the difficulty level. Then two things happen. New transactions are added to the Bitcoin blockchain ledger, and the winning miner is rewarded with newly minted bitcoins.

The miner also collects small fees that users voluntarily tack onto their transactions as a way of pushing them to the head of the line. The probability of an individual miner winning the lottery depends entirely on the speed at which that miner can generate new hashes relative to the speed of all other miners combined. In this way, the lottery is more like a raffle, where the more tickets you buy in comparison to everyone else makes it more likely that your name will be pulled out of the hat.

These dynamics have resulted in a race among miners to amass the fastest, most energy-efficient chips. And the demand for faster equipment has spawned a new industry devoted entirely to the computational needs of Bitcoin miners. Until late , generic graphics cards and field-programmable gate arrays FPGAs were powerful enough to put you in the race.

But that same year companies began to sell computer chips, called application-specific integrated circuits ASICs , which are specifically designed for the task of computing the Bitcoin hashing algorithm. Today, ASICs are the standard technology found in every large-scale facility, including the mining farm in Ordos.

Bitmain gained an edge by supplying a superior product in large quantities, a feat that has eluded every other company in the industry. Although BitFury claims to be producing chips whose performance is nearly identical to those used in the S9, the company has packaged them into a very different product. A control board on the top of the machine coordinates the work, downloading the block header to be hashed and distributing the problem to all the hashing engines, which then report back with solutions and the random numbers they used to get them.

The standard algorithm takes 64 steps to complete, but in Bitcoin it is run twice for each block header, meaning a full round requires steps that are heavy on integer addition. Despite having similar needs, there is a good deal of diversity in how chip designers build their hashing engines, says Hanke, who also served as the chief technology officer of a now-defunct mining rig manufacturer called CoinTerra. For example, Bitmain uses pipelining—a strategy that links the steps in a process into a chain in which the output of one step is the input of the next.

Bitmain competitor BitFury has chosen not to use that technology. The most pressing problem in the mining chip design is power efficiency, because your return on investment is the difference between how much money you spend on electricity versus how many new bitcoins you can win. A controller on top of the machine samples the ambient temperature and sets the fan speed and the voltage and clock speed of the machine accordingly. A young man named Zhang brings me inside, shouting over a deafening whir.

All along a wall of the warehouse, the windows have been removed from their frames and replaced with desert fans—panels of twisted, tightly packed metal strips that are being doused with water from a pipe above. Zhang walks up to a door between two shelves full of mining rigs, and we step through.

The exhaust fans from all the mining machines on the other side are poking out through little holes in a metal wall, blasting hot air into the space, where it gets purged to the outside by another wall full of giant metal fans. To save money on cooling, some mine operators have opted for cooler climates. BitFury also runs three large mining facilities, one of which is in Iceland to benefit from the cool weather.

The other two BitFury mines are in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, where the weather is much warmer. According to Vavilov, the company has developed a two-phase immersion cooling technology with their subsidiary, Allied Control. The system bathes the mining machines in a dielectric heat-transfer liquid called Novec, which cools the computers as it evaporates.

The system is now deployed at the Georgia data centers. The only other costs for the facility are the rigs themselves and the salary of the few dozen staff that keeps them operational. Zhang is part of that staff. He recently graduated from college in Inner Mongolia and started working at the mine only a few months ago.

He describes himself as a technician, then points to a man who is standing on a pneumatic lift pulling a mining rig out of the racks. The controller on the S9 has a red light that goes off when it detects a malfunction. I'll be spending some more time with the device in the coming days, getting familiar with all the vagaries of doing math for fun and profit, so stay tuned. According to my stats page, I've already earned 0. You must login or create an account to comment.

Skip to main content Apparently, I'm a Bitcoin miner now, and it looks like I'm actually pretty good at it. That 80mm fan gets pretty darn loud. The Butterfly Labs Bitcoin Miner chewing its way through calculations at more than five billion hashes per second. It's nowhere near as powerful as the Avalon ASICs, but hey, they hit their spec, so they lived up to their part of the deal.

I think. Shipping these review units is a good first step, shipping the whole first run will be the true test. I'll be curious to see how much bitcoins have to be worth to make up for the electricity consumption. He also knows stuff about enterprise storage, security, and human space flight.

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Bitmain competitor BitFury has chosen not to use that technology. The most pressing problem in the mining chip design is power efficiency, because your return on investment is the difference between how much money you spend on electricity versus how many new bitcoins you can win. A controller on top of the machine samples the ambient temperature and sets the fan speed and the voltage and clock speed of the machine accordingly.

A young man named Zhang brings me inside, shouting over a deafening whir. All along a wall of the warehouse, the windows have been removed from their frames and replaced with desert fans—panels of twisted, tightly packed metal strips that are being doused with water from a pipe above. Zhang walks up to a door between two shelves full of mining rigs, and we step through.

The exhaust fans from all the mining machines on the other side are poking out through little holes in a metal wall, blasting hot air into the space, where it gets purged to the outside by another wall full of giant metal fans. To save money on cooling, some mine operators have opted for cooler climates. BitFury also runs three large mining facilities, one of which is in Iceland to benefit from the cool weather.

The other two BitFury mines are in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, where the weather is much warmer. According to Vavilov, the company has developed a two-phase immersion cooling technology with their subsidiary, Allied Control. The system bathes the mining machines in a dielectric heat-transfer liquid called Novec, which cools the computers as it evaporates. The system is now deployed at the Georgia data centers.

The only other costs for the facility are the rigs themselves and the salary of the few dozen staff that keeps them operational. Zhang is part of that staff. He recently graduated from college in Inner Mongolia and started working at the mine only a few months ago. He describes himself as a technician, then points to a man who is standing on a pneumatic lift pulling a mining rig out of the racks. The controller on the S9 has a red light that goes off when it detects a malfunction.

Technicians like Zhang are on hand to scan the racks for sick rigs. When they find one, they pull it out and send it to a house on the factory lot where other technicians diagnose the problem, fix it, and get the machine back on the line. Every moment the rigs spend unplugged, potential revenue slips away. And this is just one of the facilities that Bitmain runs.

Within a week it was back up, and approaching an all-time high. Price fluctuations, which have been common in Bitcoin since the day it was created eight years ago, saddle miners with risk and uncertainty. And that burden is shared by chip manufacturers, especially ones like Bitmain, which invest the time and money in a full custom design. According to Nishant Sharma, the international marketing manager at Bitmain, when the price of bitcoin was breaking records this spring, sales of S9 rigs doubled.

But again, that is not a trend the company can afford to bet on. And so, Bitmain has begun to diversify. In addition to Bitcoin businesses, the company has also started to dabble in artificial intelligence and is developing facial-recognition hardware that it plans to sell to the Chinese government.

Among other things, BitFury is now providing its immersion cooling technology to high-performance data centers that are not involved in Bitcoin. The uncertainty may explain why the giants of the semiconductor industry have thus far shied from entering the fray. But if bitcoin prices remain high, that could change.

What would it take for a competitor to nudge into the fray? For starters, it has to be willing to put a lot of money on the line. Several million dollars can go into chip design before a single prototype is produced.

Indeed, it may already be happening. The backdoor could have been used by the company to track the location of its machines and shut them down remotely. The Bitcoin protocol was designed to encourage the distribution of hashing power among miners rather than its concentration. The reason? Turns out, it's very good at what it does: it computes hashes at the rate of about 5.

I've got any number of computers around the house here to try the Butterfly Labs box out with, but I took the masochistic route and chose to try it out on OS X. After several hours of troubleshooting, we eventually arrived at success. Here it is, happily churning away:. According to my trusty Kill-A-Watt, the miner is drawing a pretty constant 50 watts at a similarly constant 0.

Its 80mm fan is whirring at what can only be described as "hair dryer" levels. I'll be spending some more time with the device in the coming days, getting familiar with all the vagaries of doing math for fun and profit, so stay tuned. According to my stats page, I've already earned 0. You must login or create an account to comment.

Skip to main content Apparently, I'm a Bitcoin miner now, and it looks like I'm actually pretty good at it. That 80mm fan gets pretty darn loud.

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