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For instance, the SHA-256 of the 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 difficulty and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:

Imagine our block consists of the word BUTTERFLY discussed previously. 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 deceptively 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 instance, lets say that we have a mining difficulty of just two, ie, our HASH must start with two zeros. .

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The problem: BUTTERFLY will always return the 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 since changing one little number changes the entire HASH result, 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 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 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 a part of a cloud mining network, would require 2.7 million years into mine one block. .

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This has led to the growth of ASIC computers constructed specifically for mining and also to an increase in cloud mining.

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CPU mining. In the early days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was reduced and not a great deal of miners were competing for blocks and rewards. This made it worthwhile to utilize your computers own central processing unit (CPU) to mine bitcoin. However, that strategy was soon replaced by GPU mining.

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GPU mining. A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a potent processor whose sole purpose is to help your computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not constructed for executive decisions (like CPUs) however to be somewhat good labourers, hence why not look here GPUs can execute over 800 times more instructions in 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 process as FPGAs are chips 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 particular function, in our case mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were click resources 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 cloud or pools mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those 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 mystery ). .

Cloud mining. Clouds offer prospective miners the capability to purchase mining channels in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno energy costs, no extra heat and nothing to sell when you opt to hang up your digital pickaxe.

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

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

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

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

Paper wallets. Some sites offer paper wallet services, generating a bit of paper using two QR codes on it. One code is the public address where you receive bitcoin and the other is the personal address you can use for spending.

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