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For example, the SHA-256 of this 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 word BUTTERFLY discussed earlier. In fact, the block 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 begins with a certain number of zeros, then 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 should start with two zeros. .

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The problem: BUTTERFLY will return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. Thus 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 little number changes the entire 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 starts with two zeros. That number is the solution to the block. Here are some attempts:

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

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This has led to the rise of ASIC computers constructed 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 Extra resources low and not a lot of miners were competing for blocks and rewards. This made it rewarding to utilize 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 powerful processor whose sole objective is to help your computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not constructed for executive decisions (such as CPUs) but to be somewhat good labourers, hence GPUs are able to execute over 800 times more instructions in precisely the exact same amount of time as a CPU.

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

ASIC mining. Comparable to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are chips designed for a specific function, in our situation mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were introduced in 2013 and, as of November 2017, they are the best processors available 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 pools or cloud mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those pools solves a block, the payoff is shared with everyone in the pool in a ratio representative of just how much work you put into the swimming pool (even though you personally never solved the puzzle). .

Cloud mining. Clouds offer potential miners the ability to buy mining channels in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious being: no electricity costs, no excess heat and nothing to market when you decide to hang your virtual pickaxe.

Once Blockchain Protocol miners get bitcoin, they are given a virtual key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this digital key to gain access and confirm or approve transactions.

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Desktop pockets. Software like Bitcoin Core allows you to send and save bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network to track transactions.

Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are saved online by exchange platforms like Coinbase or Circle and can be retrieved from anywhere.

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

Paper wallets. Some websites offer paper wallet services, generating a bit of paper with just two QR codes on it. One code is the public address at which you get bitcoin and the other is the private address you can use for spending.

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