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For example, the SHA-256 of this word BUTTERFLY (origin ) is 8c62ace4f9ef8ccd08ca6fb992a8524bb7dbdc0530654bd254c9da07a660949a (HASH). This seemingly random string of letters and numbers contains three important properties:

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

Imagine our cube consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed earlier. In reality, the cube could contain a list 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 block is considered confirmed.

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

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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will return the same HASH, and it doesnt begin with two zeros. So what we need is your third 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 little number changes the whole HASH outcome, there's absolutely 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, gives us a HASH that begins with two zeros. That number is the solution to the block. Here are some attempts:

This arduous process of randomly trying to find a number that supplies the solution is what creates bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive process, and as more miners join the network, the tougher 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 take 2.7 million years into mine one block. .

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

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CPU mining. In the early days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was low and not a lot of miners were competing for blocks and rewards. This made it worthwhile 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. An graphics processing unit (GPU) is a potent processor whose sole purpose is to assist your own computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not built for executive decisions (like CPUs) however to be very good labourers, hence GPUs can execute over 800 times more instructions in precisely the same amount of time as a CPU.

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

ASIC mining. Comparable to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are chips designed for a specific purpose, in our situation 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 these pools solves a block, the payoff is shared with everyone in the swimming pool in a ratio representative of how much work you put into the swimming pool (even though you personally never solved the puzzle). .

Cloud mining. Clouds provide potential miners the capability to buy mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious being: no energy expenses, no extra heat and nothing to sell when you decide to hang up your virtual pickaxe.

Once miners receive bitcoin, they are given a virtual 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 like Bitcoin Core lets you send and save about his bitcoin addresses and connects to the network to track transactions.

Online wallets. Bitcoin moved here keys are stored online by exchange programs such as Coinbase or Circle and can be accessed from anywhere.

Mobile wallets. Apps like Blockchain store and encrypt your bitcoin keys so that you can make payments using your cellular device.

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

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