Let’s start with history of mining Bitcoin

Bitcoin mining is dominated by inconceivably huge mining facilities. The largest has over $300,000,000 worth of ASIC-powered computers. So I don’t see any way for mere mortals to participate, although if any of our readers are still making it work for them let us know in the comments. Perhaps fortunately, the “Bitcoin bubble” quickly expanded past BTC.

In particular, there are two coins I find of interest because they have broad support and can be mined with consumer hardware. Ethereum has an algorithm designed to prevent an ASIC from taking over, with the result that GPUs can dominate its production. In a different vein, the newly-released Chia coins rely on what they call plotting and farming, which are dominated by storage requirements. There are plenty of other coins that you can still mine, that on any given day might be a little more or a little less profitable, but these two are a good place to start.

 

Mining Ethereum (ETH) Using Desktop GPUs

Assuming you have or can find a decent discrete GPU — or ideally, more than one — it’s incredibly easy to get started mining Ethereum. When I first wrote about mining BTC years ago, you needed to have a full node on the network, your own wallet, and probably establish yourself with a mining pool. Now, if you have an account at a cryptocurrency exchange that accepts ETH, like Coinbase, you can just use your wallet address from that account with mining pool software.

Unless you have a large number of GPUs to put to work, you’ll probably still want to join a mining pool. They’ll take a fee, but often that is only 1 percent. In exchange, you get a share of the proceeds from a large number of miners, rather than relying on your own probably meager chance of mining an entire coin on your own.

I tried mining with amd and nvidia gups. I found that the CUDA version in particular enabled my RTX 3090 to produce hash rates of around 110Mh/s at full power and 100Mh/s after I throttled it back to keep the memory a little cooler. My AMD GPUs weren’t competitive until I installed AMD’s custom crypto driver.

As another experiment, I tried mining on my laptop Quadro T2000 GPU. It never managed to get above 3Mh/s, so that was a not-unexpected dead end.

 

Mining gpu performance

 

If you’re up for a little more work, then mining applications like Claymore, Ethminer, and Phoenix miner give you more control and increased flexibility in choosing pools and coins to mine. ETHPool and Ethermine are two other, more established pool options. The coins you mine will determine how much GPU memory you need and tends to grow over time. Ideally, an 8GB or larger GPU will give you the most flexibility. One big change is that next year ETH is planning to move to a proof-of-stake method of mining to save energy. If that happens, GPU mining won’t work for Ethereum beyond that point, and you’ll need to switch currencies.

While the invention of ETH helped neutralize the power of multi-millionaire ASIC miners, it didn’t solve another major issue for cryptocurrency. Creating new coins typically required consuming energy. And the more effort that was put into mining, the more energy it took. At the limit, Bitcoin could both consume most of the energy available worldwide, but it could also accelerate climate change, and perhaps hasten the end of life as we know it. Melodramatic, sure, but not impossible. ETH moved compute back to regular GPUs, but it didn’t reduce the power requirement. While Ethereum’s 2022 move to proof of stake will address the issue, another approach has appeared in the meantime.

 

mining gpu efficiency Source

 

Bitcoin mining after China crackdown

  • More than 54% of bitcoin’s hashrate, which is the collective computing power of miners worldwide, has dropped off the network since its market peak in May.
  • The bitcoin code has re-calibrated to make it 28% less difficult to mine.
  • Miners who are still plugged into the network stand to make greater profits while most of the network’s miners remains offline.

It just became a whole lot easier and much more profitable to mine for bitcoin.

The world has known for months that more than half the world’s bitcoin miners would be going dark as China cracked down on mining. Now that it’s happened, the bitcoin algorithm has adjusted accordingly to make sure miner productivity doesn’t continue to fall off a cliff. 

That adjustment – which took effect early Saturday morning – also means that way more cash is going to the bitcoin miners who remain online.

“This will be a revenue party for miners,” said bitcoin mining engineer Brandon Arvanaghi.

“They suddenly own a meaningfully larger piece of the pie, meaning they earn more bitcoin every day.”

Mining made easier

A bitcoin miner runs a program on a computer to try to solve a puzzle before anyone else does. Solving that puzzle is what completes a block, a process that both creates new bitcoin and updates the digital ledger keeping track of all bitcoin transactions. 

China had long been the epicenter of bitcoin miners, with past estimates indicating that 65% to 75% of the world’s bitcoin mining happened there, but a government-led crackdown has effectively banished the country’s crypto miners. 

For the first time in the bitcoin network’s history, we have a complete shutdown of mining in a targeted geographic region that affected more than 50% of the network,” said Darin Feinstein, founder of Blockcap and Core Scientific. 

More than 50% of the hashrate – the collective computing power of miners worldwide – has dropped off the network since its market peak in May.

crypto mining farm

 

Fewer people mining means that fewer blocks are solved each day. Typically, it takes about 10 minutes to complete a block, but Feinstein told CNBC the bitcoin network has slowed down to 14- to 19-minute block times.

This is precisely why bitcoin re-calibrates every 2016 blocks, or about every two weeks, resetting how tough it is for miners to mine. On Saturday, the bitcoin code automatically made it about 28% less difficult to mine – a historically unprecedented drop for the network – thereby restoring block times back to the optimal 10-minute window. 

The bitcoin algorithm is programmed to handle an increase or decrease in mining machines, according to Mike Colyer, CEO of digital currency company Foundry. “It is a self-regulating market that does not require any outside committee to determine what to do. This is a very powerful concept,” he said.

Fewer competitors and less difficulty means that any miner with a machine plugged in is going to see a significant increase in profitability and more predictable revenue.

“All bitcoin miners share in the same economics and are mining on the same network, so miners both public and private will see the uplift in revenue,” said Kevin Zhang, former Chief Mining Officer at Greenridge Generation, the first major U.S. power plant to begin mining behind-the-meter at a large scale. 

Assuming fixed power costs, Zhang estimates revenues of $29 per day for those using the latest-generation Bitmain miner, versus $22 per day prior to the change. Longer-term, although miner income can fluctuate with the price of the coin, Zhang also noted that mining revenues have dropped only 17% from the bitcoin price peak in April, whereas the coin’s price has dropped about 50%.

Six-month surge

It is hard to predict how long the hashrate deficit will last. Barbour said that it is totally possible that Beijing could simply reverse their policy, and this could only be a short-term interruption. 

If not, most mining crypto experts agree that it will take anywhere from six to 15 months for all of that idle and displaced mining hardware to migrate. “It’s going to take a long time for the surplus to find a home,” said Barbour. 

Gibbs thinks miners should see heightened revenue for at least the rest of 2021.

“Every day the Chinese miners are searching globally for places to turn their machines back on. There is very limited space at the moment,” said Colyer.

Of all the possible destinations for this equipment, the U.S. appears to be especially well-positioned to absorb this stray hashrate. CNBC is told that major U.S. mining operators are already signing deals to patriate some of these homeless Bitmain miners. 

U.S. bitcoin mining is booming, and has venture capital flowing to it, so they are poised to take advantage of the miner migration, Arvanaghi told CNBC. 

“Many U.S. bitcoin miners that were funded when bitcoin’s price started rising in November and December of 2020 means that they were already building out their power capacity when the China mining ban took hold,” he said. “It’s great timing.”

But Barbour believes that much smaller players in the residential U.S. also stand a chance at capturing these excess miners. 

“I think this is a signal that in the future, bitcoin mining will be more distributed by necessity,” said Barbour. “Less mega-mines like the 100+ megawatt ones we see in Texas and more small mines on small commercial and eventually residential spaces. It’s much harder for a politician to shut down a mine in someone’s garage.”

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