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For instance, the SHA-256 of the term BUTTERFLY (source) is 8c62ace4f9ef8ccd08ca6fb992a8524bb7dbdc0530654bd254c9da07a660949a (HASH). This seemingly random string of letters and numbers contains three important properties:

Bitcoin mining involves three variables: the cube, the mining difficulty and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:

Imagine our block consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed earlier. In reality, the cube could contain a listing of recent, unverified transactions, but lets keep it simple. In order for the block to be solved, bitcoin uses a simple test: If the HASH result of the block starts with a certain number of zeros, the cube is considered confirmed.

 

 

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For our example, lets say that we've a mining difficulty of simply two, ie, our HASH must start with two zeros. .

 

 

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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will return the same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. So what we need is the next variable, a random number (called a NONCE). We carry this number, combine it with BUTTERFLY, and HASH again. If it doesnt start with two zeros, we change the number and try again, and because changing one small number changes the whole HASH result, there is no way to predict the number well need to address this! .

We repeat this process over and over until we find a number that, when combined with BUTTERFLY, provides us a HASH that begins with two zeros. That number is the solution to the block. Here are some tries:

This arduous process of randomly trying to find a number that gives the solution is the thing that makes bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive process, and as more miners join the network, the harder it gets. As of November 2017, a normal home computer working alone, ie, not an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and not part of a cloud mining network, could require 2.7 million years into mine one block. .

 

 

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This has caused the rise of ASIC computers built particularly for mining and to an increase in cloud mining.

 

 

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CPU mining. In the first days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was reduced and not our website a great deal of miners were competing for cubes and rewards. This made it rewarding to use your computers own central processing unit (CPU) to mine bitcoin. However, that approach was soon replaced by GPU mining.

 

 

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GPU mining. A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a powerful processor whose sole purpose is to assist your own computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not built for executive decisions (such as CPUs) but to be very good labourers, hence GPUs are able to execute over 800 times more instructions in the same amount of time as a CPU.

FPGA mining. Next came mining using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These significantly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining procedure as FPGAs are chips that can be programmed to execute specific instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, like GPUs were).

ASIC mining. Comparable to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are processors designed for a particular purpose, in our case mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were introduced in 2013 and, as of November 2017, they're the best processors out there for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in power consumption. .

 

 

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Mining pools. To offset the problem of mining a block, miners started organising in cloud or pools mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those pools simplifies a cube, the payoff is shared with everyone in the swimming pool in a ratio representative of how much work you put into the pool (even though you personally never solved the mystery ). .

Cloud mining. Clouds provide potential miners the ability to buy mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious helpful hints advantages, the most obvious beingno energy expenses, no excess heat and nothing to sell when you decide to hang your digital pickaxe.

Once miners receive bitcoin, they are given a digital key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this electronic key to gain access and validate or approve transactions.

 

 

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Desktop wallets. Software such as Bitcoin Core allows you to send and save bitcoin addresses and connects to the network to monitor transactions.

Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are saved online by exchange platforms such as Coinbase or Circle and can be accessed from anywhere.

Mobile wallets. Apps like Blockchain shop and encrypt your bitcoin keys so you can make payments using your mobile device.

Paper wallets. Some sites offer paper wallet solutions, generating a piece of paper with just two QR codes on it. One code is the public address where you get bitcoin and the other is the private address you can use for spending.

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