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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 has three important properties:
Bitcoin mining involves three factors: the block, the mining issue and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:
Imagine our cube consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed previously. 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, the cube is considered verified.
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For instance, lets say that we have a mining difficulty of just two, ie, our HASH should begin with two zeros. .
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The problem: BUTTERFLY will always return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt begin with two zeros. So what we need is the third variable, a random number (called a NONCE). We take this number, combine it with BUTTERFLY, and HASH again. If it doesnt begin with two zeros, we change the number and try again, and since changing one little number changes the whole HASH outcome, there is no method to forecast the number well need to solve 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 your solution to the block. Here are some attempts:
This arduous process of randomly trying to find a number that gives the solution is what creates bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive process, and as more miners join the network, the tougher it gets. At November 2017, a regular home computer working alone, ie, not an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and not part of a cloud mining network, would require 2.7 million years into mine one block. .
This has led to the growth of ASIC computers built particularly for mining and also to an increase in cloud mining.
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CPU mining. In the first days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was reduced and not a great deal of miners were competing for blocks 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.
GPU mining. An graphics processing unit More hints (GPU) is a powerful processor whose sole objective is to assist your computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not built for executive decisions (such as CPUs) but to be very great 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 with field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These significantly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining procedure as FPGAs are processors which can be programmed to execute certain instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, like GPUs were).
ASIC mining. Similar to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are processors designed for a specific function, in our case mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were introduced in 2013 and, as of November 2017, they are the best processors out there for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in power consumption. .
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Mining pools. To offset the difficulty of mining a block, miners started organising in pools or cloud mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of these pools solves a block, the reward is shared with everyone in the swimming 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 capability to purchase mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious being: no energy expenses, no excess heat and nothing to sell when you opt to hang your digital pickaxe.
Once miners get bitcoin, they are given a virtual key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this electronic key to 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 also connects to the network to track transactions.
Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are stored online by exchange platforms like 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 mobile device.
Paper wallets. Some websites offer paper wallet services, generating a piece of paper with two QR codes on it. One code is your public address where you get bitcoin and the other one is the personal address you can use for spending.