Field-Programmable Gate Array – Blockchain Glossary

How are FPGAs used in trading?

A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is a chip that can be programmed to suit whatever purpose you want, as often as you want it and wherever you need it. FPGAs provide multiple advantages, including low latency, high throughput and energy efficiency.
To fully understand what FPGAs offer, imagine a performance spectrum. At one end, you have the central processing unit (CPU), which offers a generic set of instructions that can be combined to carry out an array of different tasks. This makes a CPU extremely flexible, and its behaviour can be defined through software. However, CPUs are also slow because they have to select from the available generic instructions to complete each task. In a sense, they’re a “jack of all trades, but a master of none”.
At the other end of the spectrum sit application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). These are potentially much faster because they have been built with a single task in mind, making them a “master of one trade”. This is the kind of chip people use to mine bitcoin, for example. The downside of ASICs is that they can’t be changed, and they cost time and money to develop. FPGAs offer a perfect middle ground: they can be significantly faster than a CPU and are more flexible than ASICs.
FPGAs contain thousands, sometimes even millions, of so-called core logic blocks (CLBs). These blocks can be configured and combined to process any task that can be solved by a CPU. Compared with a CPU, FPGAs aren’t burdened by surplus hardware that would otherwise slow you down. They can therefore be used to carry out specific tasks quickly and effectively, and can even process several tasks simultaneously. These characteristics make them popular across a wide range of sectors, from aerospace to medical engineering and security systems, and of course finance.
How are FPGAs used in the financial services sector?
Speed and versatility are particularly important when buying or selling stocks and other securities. In the era of electronic trading, decisions are made in the blink of an eye. As prices change and orders come and go, companies are fed new information from exchanges and other sources via high-speed networks. This information arrives at high speeds, with time measured in nanoseconds. The sheer volume and speed of data demands a high bandwidth to process it all. Specialized trading algorithms make use of the new information in order to make trades. FPGAs provide the perfect platform to develop these applications, as they allow you to bypass non-essential software as well as generic-purpose hardware.
How do market makers use FPGAs to provide liquidity?
As a market maker, IMC provides liquidity to buyers and sellers of financial instruments. This requires us to price every instrument we trade and to react to the market accordingly. Valuation is a view on what the price of an asset should be, which is handled by our traders and our automated pricing algorithms. When a counterpart wants to buy or sell an asset on a trading venue, our role is to always be there and offer, or bid, a fair price for the asset. FPGAs enable us to perform this key function in the most efficient way possible.
At IMC, we keep a close eye on emerging technologies that can potentially improve our business. We began working with FPGAs more than a decade ago and are constantly exploring ways to develop this evolving technology. We work in a competitive industry, so our engineers have to be on their toes to make sure we’re continuously improving.
What does an FPGA engineer do?
Being an FPGA engineer is all about learning and identifying new solutions to challenges as they arise. A software developer can write code in a software language and know within seconds whether it works, and so deploy it quickly. However, the code will have to go through several abstraction layers and generic hardware components. Although you can deploy the code quickly, you do not get the fastest possible outcome.
As an FPGA engineer, it may take two to three hours of compilation time before you know whether your adjustment will result in the outcome you want. However, you can increase performance at the cost of more engineering time. The day-to-day challenge you face is how to make the process as efficient as possible with the given trade-offs while pushing the boundaries of the FPGA technology.
Skills needed to be an FPGA engineer
Things change extremely rapidly in the trading world, and agility is the name of the game. Unsurprisingly, FPGA engineers tend to enjoy a challenge. To work as an FGPA engineer at a company like IMC, you have to be a great problem-solver, a quick learner and highly adaptable.
What makes IMC a great fit for an FPGA engineer?
IMC offers a great team dynamic. We are a smaller company than many larger technology or finance houses, and we operate very much like a family unit. This means that, as a graduate engineer, you’ll never be far from the action, and you’ll be able to make an impact from day one.
Another key difference is that you’ll get to see the final outcome of your work. If you come up with an idea, we’ll give you the chance to make it work. If it does, you’ll see the results put into practice in a matter of days, which is always a great feeling. If it doesn’t, you’ll get to find out why – so there’s an opportunity to learn and improve for next time.
Ultimately, working at IMC is about having skin in the game. You’ll be entrusted with making your own decisions. And you’ll be working side by side with super smart people who are open-minded and always interested in hearing your ideas. Market making is a technology-dependent process, and we’re all in this together.
Think you have what it takes to make a difference at a technology graduate at IMC? Check out our graduate opportunities page.
submitted by IMC_Trading to u/IMC_Trading [link] [comments]

Mining for Profitability - Horizen (formerly ZenCash) Thanks Early GPU Miners

Mining for Profitability - Horizen (formerly ZenCash) Thanks Early GPU Miners
Thank you for inviting Horizen to the GPU mining AMA!
ZEN had a great run of GPU mining that lasted well over a year, and brought lots of value to the early Zclassic miners. It is mined using Equihash protocol, and there have been ASIC miners available for the algorithm since about June of 2018. GPU mining is not really profitable for Horizen at this point in time.
We’ve got a lot of miners in the Horizen community, and many GPU miners also buy ASIC miners. Happy to talk about algorithm changes, security, and any other aspect of mining in the questions below. There are also links to the Horizen website, blog post, etc. below.
So, if I’m not here to ask you to mine, hold, and love ZEN, what can I offer? Notes on some of the lessons I’ve learned about maximizing mining profitability. An update on Horizen - there is life after moving on from GPU mining. As well as answering your questions during the next 7 days.
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Mining for Profitability - Horizen (formerly ZenCash) Thanks Early GPU Miners

Author: Rolf Versluis - co-founder of Horizen

In GPU mining, just like in many of the activities involved with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, there is both a cycle and a progression. The Bitcoin price cycle is fairly steady, and by creating a personal handbook of actions to take during the cycle, GPU miners can maximize their profitability.
Maximizing profitability isn't the only aspect of GPU mining that is important, of course, but it is helpful to be able to invest in new hardware, and be able to have enough time to spend on building and maintaining the GPU miners. If it was a constant process that also involved losing money, then it wouldn't be as much fun.

Technology Progression

For a given mining algorithm, there is definitely a technology progression. We can look back on the technology that was used to mine Bitcoin and see how it first started off as Central Processing Unit (CPU) mining, then it moved to Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) mining, then Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), and then Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC).
Throughout this evolution we have witnessed a variety of unsavory business practices that unfortunately still happen on occasion, like ASIC Miner manufacturers taking pre-orders 6 months in advance, GPU manufacturers creating commercial cards for large farms that are difficult for retail customers to secure and ASIC Miner manufacturers mining on gear for months before making it available for sale.
When a new crypto-currency is created, in many cases a new mining algorithm is created also. This is important, because if an existing algorithm was used, the coin would be open to a 51% attack from day one, and may not even be able to build a valid blockchain.
Because there's such a focus on profitable software, developers for GPU mining applications are usually able to write a mining application fairly rapidly, then iterate it to the limit of current GPU technology. If it looks like a promising new cryptocurrency, FPGA stream developers and ASIC Hardware Developers start working on their designs at the same time.
The people who create the hashing algorithms run by the miners are usually not very familiar with the design capabilities of Hardware manufacturers. Building application-specific semiconductors is an industry that's almost 60 years old now, and FPGA’s have been around for almost 35 years. This is an industry that has very experienced engineers using advanced design and modeling tools.
Promising cryptocurrencies are usually ones that are deploying new technology, or going after a big market, and who have at least a team of talented software developers. In the best case, the project has a full-stack business team involving development, project management, systems administration, marketing, sales, and leadership. This is the type of project that attracts early investment from the market, which will drive the price of the coin up significantly in the first year.
For any cryptocurrency that's a worthwhile investment of time, money, and electricity for the hashing, there will be a ASIC miners developed for it. Instead of fighting this technology progression, GPU miners may be better off recognizing it as inevitable, and taking advantage of the cryptocurrency cycle to maximize GPU mining profitability instead.

Cryptocurrency Price Cycle

For quality crypto projects, in addition to the one-way technology progression of CPU -> GPU -> FPGA -> ASIC, there is an upward price progression. More importantly, there is a cryptocurrency price cycle that oscillates around an overall upgrade price progression. Plotted against time, a cycle with an upward progressions looks like a sine wave with an ever increasing average value, which is what we see so far with the Bitcoin price.

Cryptocurrency price cycle and progression for miners
This means mining promising new cryptocurrencies with GPU miners, holding them as the price rises, and being ready to sell a significant portion in the first year. Just about every cryptocurrency is going to have a sharp price rise at some point, whether through institutional investor interest or by being the target of a pump-and-dump operation. It’s especially likely in the first year, while the supply is low and there is not much trading volume or liquidity on exchanges.
Miners need to operate in the world of government money, as well as cryptocurrency. The people who run mining businesses at some point have to start selling their mining proceeds to pay the bills, and to buy new equipment as the existing equipment becomes obsolete. Working to maximize profitability means more than just mining new cryptocurrencies, it also means learning when to sell and how to manage money.

Managing Cash for Miners

The worst thing that can happen to a business is to run out of cash. When that happens, the business usually shuts down and goes into bankruptcy. Sometimes an investor comes in and picks up the pieces, but at the point the former owners become employees.
There are two sides to managing cash - one is earning it, the other is spending it, and the cryptocurrency price cycle can tell the GPU miner when it is the best time to do certain things. A market top and bottom is easy to recognize in hindsight, and harder to see when in the middle of it. Even if a miner is able to recognize the tops and bottoms, it is difficult to act when there is so much hype and positivity at the top of the cycle, and so much gloom and doom at the bottom.
A decent rule of thumb for the last few cycles appears to be that at the top and bottom of the cycle BTC is 10x as expensive compared to USD as the last cycle. Newer crypto projects tend to have bigger price swings than Bitcoin, and during the rising of the pricing cycle there is the possibility that an altcoin will have a rise to 100x its starting price.
Taking profits from selling altcoins during the rise is important, but so is maintaining a reserve. In order to catch a 100x move, it may be worth the risk to put some of the altcoin on an exchange and set a very high limit order. For the larger cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin it is important to set trailing sell stops on the way up, and to not buy back in for at least a month if a sell stop gets triggered. Being able to read price charts, see support and resistance areas for price, and knowing how to set sell orders are an important part of mining profitability.

Actions to Take During the Cycle

As the cycle starts to rise from the bottom, this is a good time to buy mining hardware - it will be inexpensive. Also to mine and buy altcoins, which are usually the first to see a price rise, and will have larger price increases than Bitcoin.
On the rise of the cycle, this is a good time to see which altcoins are doing well from a project fundamentals standpoint, and which ones look like they are undergoing accumulation from investors.
Halfway through the rise of the cycle is the time to start selling altcoins for the larger project cryptos like Bitcoin. Miners will miss some of the profit at the top of the cycle, but will not run out of cash by doing this. This is also the time to stop buying mining hardware. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to pick up that same hardware used for a fraction of the price at the next bottom.
As the price nears the top of the cycle, sell enough Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to meet the following projected costs:
  • Mining electricity costs for the next 12 months
  • Planned investment into new miners for the next cycle
  • Additional funds needed for things like supporting a family or buying a Lambo
  • Taxes on all the capital gains from the sale of cryptocurrencies
It may be worth selling 70-90% of crypto holdings, maintaining a reserve in case there is second upward move caused by government bankruptcies. But selling a large part of the crypto is helpful to maintaining profitability and having enough cash reserves to make it through the bottom part of the next cycle.
As the cycle has peaked and starts to decline, this is a good time to start investing in mining facilities and other infrastructure, brush up on trading skills, count your winnings, and take some vacation.
At the bottom of the cycle, it is time to start buying both used and new mining equipment. The bottom can be hard to recognize.
If you can continue to mine all the way through bottom part of the cryptocurrency pricing cycle, paying with the funds sold near the top, you will have a profitable and enjoyable cryptocurrency mining business. Any cryptocurrency you are able to hold onto will benefit from the price progression in the next higher cycle phase.

An Update on Horizen - formerly ZenCash

The team at Horizen recognizes the important part that GPU miners played in the early success of Zclassic and ZenCash, and there is always a welcoming attitude to any of ZEN miners, past and present. About 1 year after ZenCash launched, ASIC miners became available for the Equihash algorithm. Looking at a chart of mining difficulty over time shows when it was time for GPU miners to move to mining other cryptocurrencies.

Horizen Historical Block Difficulty Graph
Looking at the hashrate chart, it is straightforward to see that ASIC miners were deployed starting June 2018. It appears that there was a jump in mining hashrate in October of 2017. This may have been larger GPU farms switching over to mine Horizen, FPGA’s on the network, or early version of Equihash ASIC miners that were kept private.
The team understands the importance of the cryptocurrency price cycle as it affects the funds from the Horizen treasury and the investments that can be made. 20% of each block mined is sent to the Horizen non-profit foundation for use to improve the project. Just like miners have to manage money, the team has to decide whether to spend funds when the price is high or convert it to another form in preparation for the bottom part of the cycle.
During the rise and upper part of the last price cycle Horizen was working hard to maximize the value of the project through many different ways, including spending on research and development, project management, marketing, business development with exchanges and merchants, and working to create adoption in all the countries of the world.
During the lower half of the cycle Horizen has reduced the team to the essentials, and worked to build a base of users, relationships with investors, exchanges, and merchants, and continue to develop the higher priority software projects. Lower priority software development, going to trade shows, and paying for business partnerships like exchanges and applications have all been completely stopped.
Miners are still a very important part of the Horizen ecosystem, earning 60% of the block reward. 20% goes to node operators, with 20% to the foundation. In the summer of 2018 the consensus algorithm was modified slightly to make it much more difficult for any group of miners to perform a 51% attack on Horizen. This has so far proven effective.
The team is strong, we provide monthly updates on a YouTube live stream on the first Wednesday of each month where all questions asked during the stream are addressed, and our marketing team works to develop awareness of Horizen worldwide. New wallet software was released recently, and it is the foundation application for people to use and manage their ZEN going forward.
Horizen is a Proof of Work cryptocurrency, and there is no plan to change that by the current development team. If there is a security or centralization concern, there may be change to the algorithm, but that appears unlikely at this time, as the hidden chain mining penalty looks like it is effective in stopping 51% attacks.
During 2019 and 2020 the Horizen team plans to release many new software updates:
  • Sidechains modification to main software
  • Sidechain Software Development Kit
  • Governance and Treasury application running on a sidechain
  • Node tracking and payments running on a sidechain
  • Conversion from blockchain to a Proof of Work BlockDAG using Equihash mining algorithm
After these updates are working well, the team will work to transition Horizen over to a governance model where major decisions and the allocation of treasury funds are done through a form of democratic voting. At this point all the software developed by Horizen is expected to be open source.
When the governance is transitioned, the project should be as decentralized as possible. The goal of decentralization is to enable resilience and preventing the capture of the project by regulators, government, criminal organizations, large corporations, or a small group of individuals.
Everyone involved with Horizen can be proud of what we have accomplished together so far. Miners who were there for the early mining and growth of the project played a large part in securing the network, evangelizing to new community members, and helping to create liquidity on new exchanges. Miners are still a very important part of the project and community. Together we can look forward to achieving many new goals in the future.

Here are some links to find out more about Horizen.
Horizen Website – https://horizen.global
Horizen Blog – https://blog.horizen.global
Horizen Reddit - https://www.reddit.com/Horizen/
Horizen Discord – https://discord.gg/SuaMBTb
Horizen Github – https://github.com/ZencashOfficial
Horizen Forum – https://forum.horizen.global/
Horizen Twitter – https://twitter.com/horizenglobal
Horizen Telegram – https://t.me/horizencommunity
Horizen on Bitcointalk – https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=2047435.0
Horizen YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/Horizen/
Buy or Sell Horizen
Horizen on CoinMarketCap – https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/zencash/

About the Author:

Rolf Versluis is Co-Founder and Executive Advisor of the privacy oriented cryptocurrency Horizen. He also operates multiple private cryptocurrency mining facilities with hundreds of operational systems, and has a blog and YouTube channel on crypto mining called Block Operations.
Rolf applies his engineering background as well as management and leadership experience from running a 60 person IT company in Atlanta and as a US Navy nuclear submarine officer operating out of Hawaii to help grow and improve the businesses in which he is involved.
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Thank you again for the Ask Me Anything - please do. I'll be checking the post and answering questions actively from 28 Feb to 6 Mar 2019 - Rolf
submitted by Blockops to gpumining [link] [comments]

Best $100-$300 FPGA development board in 2018?

Hello, I’ve been trying to decide on a FPGA development board, and have only been able to find posts and Reddit threads from 4-5 years ago. So I wanted to start a new thread and ask about the best “mid-range” FGPA development board in 2018. (Price range $100-$300.)
I started with this Quora answer about FPGA boards, from 2013. The Altera DE1 sounded good. Then I looked through the Terasic DE boards.
Then I found this Reddit thread from 2014, asking about the DE1-SoC vs the Cyclone V GX Starter Kit: https://www.reddit.com/FPGA/comments/1xsk6w/cyclone_v_gx_starter_kit_vs_de1soc_board/‬ (I was also leaning towards the DE1-SoC.)
Anyway, I thought I better ask here, because there are probably some new things to be aware of in 2018.
I’m completely new to FPGAs and VHDL, but I have experience with electronics/microcontrollers/programming. My goal is to start with some basic soft-core processors. I want to get some C / Rust programs compiling and running on my own CPU designs. I also want to play around with different instruction sets, and maybe start experimenting with asynchronous circuits (e.g. clock-less CPUs)
Also I don’t know if this is possible, but I’d like to experiment with ternary computing, or work with analog signals instead of purely digital logic. EDIT: I just realized that you would call those FPAAs, i.e. “analog” instead of “gate”. Would be cool if there was a dev board that also had an FPAA, but no problem if not.
EDIT 2: I also realized why "analog signals on an FPGA" doesn't make any sense, because of how LUTs work. They emulate boolean logic with a lookup table, and the table can only store 0s and 1s. So there's no way to emulate a transistor in an intermediate state. I'll just have play around with some transistors on a breadboard.
UPDATE: I've put together a table with some of the best options:
Board Maker Chip LUTs Price SoC? Features
icoBoard Lattice iCE40-HX8K 7,680 $100 Sort of A very simple FPGA development board that plugs into a Raspberry Pi, so you have a "backup" hard-core CPU that can control networking, etc. Supports a huge range of pmod accessories. You can write a program/circuit so that the Raspberry Pi CPU and the FPGA work together, similar to a SoC. Proprietary bitstream is fully reverse engineered and supported by Project IceStorm, and there is an open-source toolchain that can compile your hardware design to bitstream. Has everything you need to start experimenting with FPGAs.
iCE40-HX8K Breakout Board Lattice iCE40-HX8K-CT256 7,680 $49 No 8 LEDs, 8 switches. Very similar to icoBoard, but no Raspberry Pi or pmod accessories.
iCE40 UltraPlus Lattice iCE40 UltraPlus FPGA 5280 $99 No Chip specs. 4 switchable FPGAs, and a rechargeable battery. Bluetooth module, LCD Display (240 x 240 RGB), RGB LED, microphones, audio output, compass, pressure, gyro, accelerometer.
Go Board Lattice ICE40 HX1K FPGA 1280 $65 No 4 LEDs, 4 buttons, Dual 7-Segment LED Display, VGA, 25 MHz on-board clock, 1 Mb Flash.
snickerdoodle Xilinx Zynq 7010 28K $95 Yes Xilinx Zynq 7-Series SoC - ARM Cortex-A9 processor, and Artix-7 FPGA. 125 IO pins. 1GB DDR2 RAM. Texas Instruments WiLink 8 wireless module for 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. No LEDs or buttons, but easy to wire up your own on a breadboard. If you want to use a baseboard, you'll need a snickerdoodle black ($195) with the pins in the "down" orientation. (E.g. The "breakyBreaky breakout board" ($49) or piSmasher SBC ($195)). The snickerdoodle one only comes with pins in the "up" orientation and doesn't support any baseboards. But you can still plug the jumpers into the pins and wire up things on a breadboard.
numato Mimas A7 Xilinx Artix 7 52K $149 No 2Gb DDR3 RAM. Gigabit Ethernet. HDMI IN/OUT. 100MHz LVDS oscillator. 80 IOs. 7-segment display, LEDs, buttons. (Found in this Reddit thread.)
Ultra96 Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ ZU3EG 154K $249 Yes Has one of the latest Xilinx SoCs. 2 GB (512M x32) LPDDR4 Memory. Wi-Fi / Bluetooth. Mini DisplayPort. 1x USB 3.0 type Micro-B, 2x USB 3.0 Type A. Audio I/O. Four user-controllable LEDs. No buttons and limited LEDs, but easy to wire up your own on a breadboard
Nexys A7-100T Xilinx Artix 7 15,850 $265 No . 128MiB DDR2 RAM. Ethernet port, PWM audio output, accelerometer, PDM microphone, microphone, etc. 16 switches, 16 LEDs. 7 segment displays. USB HID Host for mice, keyboards and memory sticks.
Zybo Z7-10 Xilinx Zynq 7010 17,600 $199 Yes Xilinx Zynq 7000 SoC (ARM Cortex-A9, 7-series FPGA.) 1 GB DDR3 RAM. A few switches, push buttons, and LEDs. USB and Ethernet. Audio in/out ports. HDMI source + sink with CEC. 8 Total Processor I/O, 40 Total FPGA I/O. Also a faster version for $299 (Zybo Z7-20).
Arty A7 Xilinx Artix 7 15K $119 No 256MB DDR3L. 10/100 Mbps Ethernet. A few switches, buttons, LEDs.
DE10-Standard (specs) Altera Cyclone V 110K $350 Yes Dual-core Cortex-A9 processor. Lots of buttons, LEDs, and other peripherals.
DE10-Nano Altera Cyclone V 110K $130 Yes Same as DE10-Standard, but not as many peripherals, buttons, LEDs, etc.

Winner:

icoBoard ($100). (Buy it here.)
The icoBoard plugs into a Raspberry Pi, so it's similar to having a SoC. The iCE40-HX8K chip comes with 7,680 LUTs (logic elements.) This means that after you learn the basics and create some simple circuits, you'll also have enough logic elements to run the VexRiscv soft-core CPU (the lightweight Murax SoC.)
The icoBoard also supports a huge range of pluggable pmod accessories:
You can pick whatever peripherals you're interested in, and buy some more in the future.
Every FPGA vendor keeps their bitstream format secret. (Here's a Hacker News discussion about it.) The iCE40-HX8K bitstream has been fully reverse engineered by Project IceStorm, and there is an open-source set of tools that can compile Verilog to iCE40 bitstream.
This means that you have the freedom to do some crazy experiments, like:
You don't really have the same freedom to explore these things with Xilinx or Altera FPGAs. (Especially asynchronous circuits.)

Links:

Second Place:

iCE40-HX8K Breakout Board ($49)

Third Place:

numato Mimas A7 ($149).
An excellent development board with a Xilinx Artix 7 FPGA, so you can play with a bigger / faster FPGA and run a full RISC-V soft-core with all the options enabled, and a much higher clock speed. (The iCE40 FPGAs are a bit slow and small.)
Note: I've changed my mind several times as I learned new things. Here's some of my previous thoughts.

What did I buy?

I ordered a iCE40-HX8K Breakout Board to try out the IceStorm open source tooling. (I would have ordered an icoBoard if I had found it earlier.) I also bought a numato Mimas A7 so that I could experiment with the Artix 7 FPGA and Xilinx software (Vivado Design Suite.)

Questions

What can I do with an FPGA? / How many LUTs do I need?

submitted by ndbroadbent to FPGA [link] [comments]

The Problem with PoW

The Problem with PoW
Miners have always had it rough..
"Frustrated Miners"

The Problem with PoW
(and what is being done to solve it)

Proof of Work (PoW) is one of the most commonly used consensus mechanisms entrusted to secure and validate many of today’s most successful cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being one. Battle-hardened and having weathered the test of time, Bitcoin has demonstrated the undeniable strength and reliability of the PoW consensus model through sheer market saturation, and of course, its persistency.
In addition to the cost of powerful computing hardware, miners prove that they are benefiting the network by expending energy in the form of electricity, by solving and hashing away complex math problems on their computers, utilizing any suitable tools that they have at their disposal. The mathematics involved in securing proof of work revolve around unique algorithms, each with their own benefits and vulnerabilities, and can require different software/hardware to mine depending on the coin.
Because each block has a unique and entirely random hash, or “puzzle” to solve, the “work” has to be performed for each block individually and the difficulty of the problem can be increased as the speed at which blocks are solved increases.

Hashrates and Hardware Types

While proof of work is an effective means of securing a blockchain, it inherently promotes competition amongst miners seeking higher and higher hashrates due to the rewards earned by the node who wins the right to add the next block. In turn, these higher hash rates benefit the blockchain, providing better security when it’s a result of a well distributed/decentralized network of miners.
When Bitcoin first launched its genesis block, it was mined exclusively by CPUs. Over the years, various programmers and developers have devised newer, faster, and more energy efficient ways to generate higher hashrates; some by perfecting the software end of things, and others, when the incentives are great enough, create expensive specialized hardware such as ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit). With the express purpose of extracting every last bit of hashing power, efficiency being paramount, ASICs are stripped down, bare minimum, hardware representations of a specific coin’s algorithm.
This gives ASICS a massive advantage in terms of raw hashing power and also in terms of energy consumption against CPUs/GPUs, but with significant drawbacks of being very expensive to design/manufacture, translating to a high economic barrier for the casual miner. Due to the fact that they are virtual hardware representations of a single targeted algorithm, this means that if a project decides to fork and change algorithms suddenly, your powerful brand-new ASIC becomes a very expensive paperweight. The high costs in developing and manufacturing ASICs and the associated risks involved, make them unfit for mass adoption at this time.
Somewhere on the high end, in the vast hashrate expanse created between GPU and ASIC, sits the FPGA (field programmable gate array). FPGAs are basically ASICs that make some compromises with efficiency in order to have more flexibility, namely they are reprogrammable and often used in the “field” to test an algorithm before implementing it in an ASIC. As a precursor to the ASIC, FPGAs are somewhat similar to GPUs in their flexibility, but require advanced programming skills and, like ASICs, are expensive and still fairly uncommon.

2 Guys 1 ASIC

One of the issues with proof of work incentivizing the pursuit of higher hashrates is in how the network calculates block reward coinbase payouts and rewards miners based on the work that they have submitted. If a coin generated, say a block a minute, and this is a constant, then what happens if more miners jump on a network and do more work? The network cannot pay out more than 1 block reward per 1 minute, and so a difficulty mechanism is used to maintain balance. The difficulty will scale up and down in response to the overall nethash, so if many miners join the network, or extremely high hashing devices such as ASICs or FPGAs jump on, the network will respond accordingly, using the difficulty mechanism to make the problems harder, effectively giving an edge to hardware that can solve them faster, balancing the network. This not only maintains the block a minute reward but it has the added side-effect of energy requirements that scale up with network adoption.
Imagine, for example, if one miner gets on a network all alone with a CPU doing 50 MH/s and is getting all 100 coins that can possibly be paid out in a day. Then, if another miner jumps on the network with the same CPU, each miner would receive 50 coins in a day instead of 100 since they are splitting the required work evenly, despite the fact that the net electrical output has doubled along with the work. Electricity costs miner’s money and is a factor in driving up coin price along with adoption, and since more people are now mining, the coin is less centralized. Now let’s say a large corporation has found it profitable to manufacture an ASIC for this coin, knowing they will make their money back mining it or selling the units to professionals. They join the network doing 900 MH/s and will be pulling in 90 coins a day, while the two guys with their CPUs each get 5 now. Those two guys aren’t very happy, but the corporation is. Not only does this negatively affect the miners, it compromises the security of the entire network by centralizing the coin supply and hashrate, opening the doors to double spends and 51% attacks from potential malicious actors. Uncertainty of motives and questionable validity in a distributed ledger do not mix.
When technology advances in a field, it is usually applauded and welcomed with open arms, but in the world of crypto things can work quite differently. One of the glaring flaws in the current model and the advent of specialized hardware is that it’s never ending. Suppose the two men from the rather extreme example above took out a loan to get themselves that ASIC they heard about that can get them 90 coins a day? When they join the other ASIC on the network, the difficulty adjusts to keep daily payouts consistent at 100, and they will each receive only 33 coins instead of 90 since the reward is now being split three ways. Now what happens if a better ASIC is released by that corporation? Hopefully, those two guys were able to pay off their loans and sell their old ASICs before they became obsolete.
This system, as it stands now, only perpetuates a never ending hashrate arms race in which the weapons of choice are usually a combination of efficiency, economics, profitability and in some cases control.

Implications of Centralization

This brings us to another big concern with expensive specialized hardware: the risk of centralization. Because they are so expensive and inaccessible to the casual miner, ASICs and FPGAs predominantly remain limited to a select few. Centralization occurs when one small group or a single entity controls the vast majority hash power and, as a result, coin supply and is able to exert its influence to manipulate the market or in some cases, the network itself (usually the case of dishonest nodes or bad actors).
This is entirely antithetical of what cryptocurrency was born of, and since its inception many concerted efforts have been made to avoid centralization at all costs. An entity in control of a centralized coin would have the power to manipulate the price, and having a centralized hashrate would enable them to affect network usability, reliability, and even perform double spends leading to the demise of a coin, among other things.
The world of crypto is a strange new place, with rapidly growing advancements across many fields, economies, and boarders, leaving plenty of room for improvement; while it may feel like a never-ending game of catch up, there are many talented developers and programmers working around the clock to bring us all more sustainable solutions.

The Rise of FPGAs

With the recent implementation of the commonly used coding language C++, and due to their overall flexibility, FPGAs are becoming somewhat more common, especially in larger farms and in industrial setting; but they still remain primarily out of the hands of most mining enthusiasts and almost unheard of to the average hobby miner. Things appear to be changing though, one example of which I’ll discuss below, and it is thought by some, that soon we will see a day when mining with a CPU or GPU just won’t cut it any longer, and the market will be dominated by FPGAs and specialized ASICs, bringing with them efficiency gains for proof of work, while also carelessly leading us all towards the next round of spending.
A perfect real-world example of the effect specialized hardware has had on the crypto-community was recently discovered involving a fairly new project called VerusCoin and a fairly new, relatively more economically accessible FPGA. The FPGA is designed to target specific alt-coins whose algo’s do not require RAM overhead. It was discovered the company had released a new algorithm, kept secret from the public, which could effectively mine Verus at 20x the speed of GPUs, which were the next fastest hardware types mining on the Verus network.
Unfortunately this was done with a deliberately secret approach, calling the Verus algorithm “Algo1” and encouraging owners of the FPGA to never speak of the algorithm in public channels, admonishing a user when they did let the cat out of the bag. The problem with this business model is that it is parasitic in nature. In an ecosystem where advancements can benefit the entire crypto community, this sort of secret mining approach also does not support the philosophies set forth by the Bitcoin or subsequent open source and decentralization movements.
Although this was not done in the spirit of open source, it does hint to an important step in hardware innovation where we could see more efficient specialized systems within reach of the casual miner. The FPGA requires unique sets of data called a bitstream in order to be able to recognize each individual coin’s algorithm and mine them. Because it’s reprogrammable, with the support of a strong development team creating such bitstreams, the miner doesn’t end up with a brick if an algorithm changes.

All is not lost thanks to.. um.. Technology?

Shortly after discovering FPGAs on the network, the Verus developers quickly designed, tested, and implemented a new, much more complex and improved algorithm via a fork that enabled Verus to transition smoothly from VerusHash 1.0 to VerusHash 2.0 at block 310,000. Since the fork, VerusHash 2.0 has demonstrated doing exactly what it was designed for- equalizing hardware performance relative to the device being used while enabling CPUs (the most widely available “ASICs”) to mine side by side with GPUs, at a profit and it appears this will also apply to other specialized hardware. This is something no other project has been able to do until now. Rather than pursue the folly of so many other projects before it- attempting to be “ASIC proof”, Verus effectively achieved and presents to the world an entirely new model of “hardware homogeny”. As the late, great, Bruce Lee once said- “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.”
In the design of VerusHash 2.0, Verus has shown it doesn’t resist progress like so many other new algorithms try to do, it embraces change and adapts to it in the way that water becomes whatever vessel it inhabits. This new approach- an industry first- could very well become an industry standard and in doing so, would usher in a new age for proof of work based coins. VerusHash 2.0 has the potential to correct the single largest design flaw in the proof of work consensus mechanism- the ever expanding monetary and energy requirements that have plagued PoW based projects since the inception of the consensus mechanism. Verus also solves another major issue of coin and net hash centralization by enabling legitimate CPU mining, offering greater coin and hashrate distribution.
Digging a bit deeper it turns out the Verus development team are no rookies. The lead developer Michael F Toutonghi has spent decades in the field programming and is a former Vice President and Technical Fellow at Microsoft, recognized founder and architect of Microsoft's .Net platform, ex-Technical Fellow of Microsoft's advertising platform, ex-CTO, Parallels Corporation, and an experienced distributed computing and machine learning architect. The project he helped create employs and makes use of a diverse myriad of technologies and security features to form one of the most advanced and secure cryptocurrency to date. A brief description of what makes VerusCoin special quoted from a community member-
"Verus has a unique and new consensus algorithm called Proof of Power which is a 50% PoW/50% PoS algorithm that solves theoretical weaknesses in other PoS systems (Nothing at Stake problem for example) and is provably immune to 51% hash attacks. With this, Verus uses the new hash algorithm, VerusHash 2.0. VerusHash 2.0 is designed to better equalize mining across all hardware platforms, while favoring the latest CPUs over older types, which is also one defense against the centralizing potential of botnets. Unlike past efforts to equalize hardware hash-rates across different hardware types, VerusHash 2.0 explicitly enables CPUs to gain even more power relative to GPUs and FPGAs, enabling the most decentralizing hardware, CPUs (due to their virtually complete market penetration), to stay relevant as miners for the indefinite future. As for anonymity, Verus is not a "forced private", allowing for both transparent and shielded (private) transactions...and private messages as well"

If other projects can learn from this and adopt a similar approach or continue to innovate with new ideas, it could mean an end to all the doom and gloom predictions that CPU and GPU mining are dead, offering a much needed reprieve and an alternative to miners who have been faced with the difficult decision of either pulling the plug and shutting down shop or breaking down their rigs to sell off parts and buy new, more expensive hardware…and in so doing present an overall unprecedented level of decentralization not yet seen in cryptocurrency.
Technological advancements led us to the world of secure digital currencies and the progress being made with hardware efficiencies is indisputably beneficial to us all. ASICs and FPGAs aren’t inherently bad, and there are ways in which they could be made more affordable and available for mass distribution. More than anything, it is important that we work together as communities to find solutions that can benefit us all for the long term.

In an ever changing world where it may be easy to lose sight of the real accomplishments that brought us to this point one thing is certain, cryptocurrency is here to stay and the projects that are doing something to solve the current problems in the proof of work consensus mechanism will be the ones that lead us toward our collective vision of a better world- not just for the world of crypto but for each and every one of us.
submitted by Godballz to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

The Problem with PoW


Miners have always had it rough..
"Frustrated Miners"


The Problem with PoW
(and what is being done to solve it)

Proof of Work (PoW) is one of the most commonly used consensus mechanisms entrusted to secure and validate many of today’s most successful cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being one. Battle-hardened and having weathered the test of time, Bitcoin has demonstrated the undeniable strength and reliability of the PoW consensus model through sheer market saturation, and of course, its persistency.
In addition to the cost of powerful computing hardware, miners prove that they are benefiting the network by expending energy in the form of electricity, by solving and hashing away complex math problems on their computers, utilizing any suitable tools that they have at their disposal. The mathematics involved in securing proof of work revolve around unique algorithms, each with their own benefits and vulnerabilities, and can require different software/hardware to mine depending on the coin.
Because each block has a unique and entirely random hash, or “puzzle” to solve, the “work” has to be performed for each block individually and the difficulty of the problem can be increased as the speed at which blocks are solved increases.
Hashrates and Hardware Types
While proof of work is an effective means of securing a blockchain, it inherently promotes competition amongst miners seeking higher and higher hashrates due to the rewards earned by the node who wins the right to add the next block. In turn, these higher hash rates benefit the blockchain, providing better security when it’s a result of a well distributed/decentralized network of miners.
When Bitcoin first launched its genesis block, it was mined exclusively by CPUs. Over the years, various programmers and developers have devised newer, faster, and more energy efficient ways to generate higher hashrates; some by perfecting the software end of things, and others, when the incentives are great enough, create expensive specialized hardware such as ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit). With the express purpose of extracting every last bit of hashing power, efficiency being paramount, ASICs are stripped down, bare minimum, hardware representations of a specific coin’s algorithm.
This gives ASICS a massive advantage in terms of raw hashing power and also in terms of energy consumption against CPUs/GPUs, but with significant drawbacks of being very expensive to design/manufacture, translating to a high economic barrier for the casual miner. Due to the fact that they are virtual hardware representations of a single targeted algorithm, this means that if a project decides to fork and change algorithms suddenly, your powerful brand-new ASIC becomes a very expensive paperweight. The high costs in developing and manufacturing ASICs and the associated risks involved, make them unfit for mass adoption at this time.
Somewhere on the high end, in the vast hashrate expanse created between GPU and ASIC, sits the FPGA (field programmable gate array). FPGAs are basically ASICs that make some compromises with efficiency in order to have more flexibility, namely they are reprogrammable and often used in the “field” to test an algorithm before implementing it in an ASIC. As a precursor to the ASIC, FPGAs are somewhat similar to GPUs in their flexibility, but require advanced programming skills and, like ASICs, are expensive and still fairly uncommon.
2 Guys 1 ASIC
One of the issues with proof of work incentivizing the pursuit of higher hashrates is in how the network calculates block reward coinbase payouts and rewards miners based on the work that they have submitted. If a coin generated, say a block a minute, and this is a constant, then what happens if more miners jump on a network and do more work? The network cannot pay out more than 1 block reward per 1 minute, and so a difficulty mechanism is used to maintain balance. The difficulty will scale up and down in response to the overall nethash, so if many miners join the network, or extremely high hashing devices such as ASICs or FPGAs jump on, the network will respond accordingly, using the difficulty mechanism to make the problems harder, effectively giving an edge to hardware that can solve them faster, balancing the network. This not only maintains the block a minute reward but it has the added side-effect of energy requirements that scale up with network adoption.
Imagine, for example, if one miner gets on a network all alone with a CPU doing 50 MH/s and is getting all 100 coins that can possibly be paid out in a day. Then, if another miner jumps on the network with the same CPU, each miner would receive 50 coins in a day instead of 100 since they are splitting the required work evenly, despite the fact that the net electrical output has doubled along with the work. Electricity costs miner’s money and is a factor in driving up coin price along with adoption, and since more people are now mining, the coin is less centralized. Now let’s say a large corporation has found it profitable to manufacture an ASIC for this coin, knowing they will make their money back mining it or selling the units to professionals. They join the network doing 900 MH/s and will be pulling in 90 coins a day, while the two guys with their CPUs each get 5 now. Those two guys aren’t very happy, but the corporation is. Not only does this negatively affect the miners, it compromises the security of the entire network by centralizing the coin supply and hashrate, opening the doors to double spends and 51% attacks from potential malicious actors. Uncertainty of motives and questionable validity in a distributed ledger do not mix.
When technology advances in a field, it is usually applauded and welcomed with open arms, but in the world of crypto things can work quite differently. One of the glaring flaws in the current model and the advent of specialized hardware is that it’s never ending. Suppose the two men from the rather extreme example above took out a loan to get themselves that ASIC they heard about that can get them 90 coins a day? When they join the other ASIC on the network, the difficulty adjusts to keep daily payouts consistent at 100, and they will each receive only 33 coins instead of 90 since the reward is now being split three ways. Now what happens if a better ASIC is released by that corporation? Hopefully, those two guys were able to pay off their loans and sell their old ASICs before they became obsolete.
This system, as it stands now, only perpetuates a never ending hashrate arms race in which the weapons of choice are usually a combination of efficiency, economics, profitability and in some cases control.
Implications of Centralization
This brings us to another big concern with expensive specialized hardware: the risk of centralization. Because they are so expensive and inaccessible to the casual miner, ASICs and FPGAs predominantly remain limited to a select few. Centralization occurs when one small group or a single entity controls the vast majority hash power and, as a result, coin supply and is able to exert its influence to manipulate the market or in some cases, the network itself (usually the case of dishonest nodes or bad actors).
This is entirely antithetical of what cryptocurrency was born of, and since its inception many concerted efforts have been made to avoid centralization at all costs. An entity in control of a centralized coin would have the power to manipulate the price, and having a centralized hashrate would enable them to affect network usability, reliability, and even perform double spends leading to the demise of a coin, among other things.
The world of crypto is a strange new place, with rapidly growing advancements across many fields, economies, and boarders, leaving plenty of room for improvement; while it may feel like a never-ending game of catch up, there are many talented developers and programmers working around the clock to bring us all more sustainable solutions.
The Rise of FPGAs
With the recent implementation of the commonly used coding language C++, and due to their overall flexibility, FPGAs are becoming somewhat more common, especially in larger farms and in industrial setting; but they still remain primarily out of the hands of most mining enthusiasts and almost unheard of to the average hobby miner. Things appear to be changing though, one example of which I’ll discuss below, and it is thought by some, that soon we will see a day when mining with a CPU or GPU just won’t cut it any longer, and the market will be dominated by FPGAs and specialized ASICs, bringing with them efficiency gains for proof of work, while also carelessly leading us all towards the next round of spending.
A perfect real-world example of the effect specialized hardware has had on the crypto-community was recently discovered involving a fairly new project called VerusCoin and a fairly new, relatively more economically accessible FPGA. The FPGA is designed to target specific alt-coins whose algo’s do not require RAM overhead. It was discovered the company had released a new algorithm, kept secret from the public, which could effectively mine Verus at 20x the speed of GPUs, which were the next fastest hardware types mining on the Verus network.
Unfortunately this was done with a deliberately secret approach, calling the Verus algorithm “Algo1” and encouraging owners of the FPGA to never speak of the algorithm in public channels, admonishing a user when they did let the cat out of the bag. The problem with this business model is that it is parasitic in nature. In an ecosystem where advancements can benefit the entire crypto community, this sort of secret mining approach also does not support the philosophies set forth by the Bitcoin or subsequent open source and decentralization movements.
Although this was not done in the spirit of open source, it does hint to an important step in hardware innovation where we could see more efficient specialized systems within reach of the casual miner. The FPGA requires unique sets of data called a bitstream in order to be able to recognize each individual coin’s algorithm and mine them. Because it’s reprogrammable, with the support of a strong development team creating such bitstreams, the miner doesn’t end up with a brick if an algorithm changes.
All is not lost thanks to.. um.. Technology?
Shortly after discovering FPGAs on the network, the Verus developers quickly designed, tested, and implemented a new, much more complex and improved algorithm via a fork that enabled Verus to transition smoothly from VerusHash 1.0 to VerusHash 2.0 at block 310,000. Since the fork, VerusHash 2.0 has demonstrated doing exactly what it was designed for- equalizing hardware performance relative to the device being used while enabling CPUs (the most widely available “ASICs”) to mine side by side with GPUs, at a profit and it appears this will also apply to other specialized hardware. This is something no other project has been able to do until now. Rather than pursue the folly of so many other projects before it- attempting to be “ASIC proof”, Verus effectively achieved and presents to the world an entirely new model of “hardware homogeny”. As the late, great, Bruce Lee once said- “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.”
In the design of VerusHash 2.0, Verus has shown it doesn’t resist progress like so many other new algorithms try to do, it embraces change and adapts to it in the way that water becomes whatever vessel it inhabits. This new approach- an industry first- could very well become an industry standard and in doing so, would usher in a new age for proof of work based coins. VerusHash 2.0 has the potential to correct the single largest design flaw in the proof of work consensus mechanism- the ever expanding monetary and energy requirements that have plagued PoW based projects since the inception of the consensus mechanism. Verus also solves another major issue of coin and net hash centralization by enabling legitimate CPU mining, offering greater coin and hashrate distribution.
Digging a bit deeper it turns out the Verus development team are no rookies. The lead developer Michael F Toutonghi has spent decades in the field programming and is a former Vice President and Technical Fellow at Microsoft, recognized founder and architect of Microsoft's .Net platform, ex-Technical Fellow of Microsoft's advertising platform, ex-CTO, Parallels Corporation, and an experienced distributed computing and machine learning architect. The project he helped create employs and makes use of a diverse myriad of technologies and security features to form one of the most advanced and secure cryptocurrency to date. A brief description of what makes VerusCoin special quoted from a community member-
"Verus has a unique and new consensus algorithm called Proof of Power which is a 50% PoW/50% PoS algorithm that solves theoretical weaknesses in other PoS systems (Nothing at Stake problem for example) and is provably immune to 51% hash attacks. With this, Verus uses the new hash algorithm, VerusHash 2.0. VerusHash 2.0 is designed to better equalize mining across all hardware platforms, while favoring the latest CPUs over older types, which is also one defense against the centralizing potential of botnets. Unlike past efforts to equalize hardware hash-rates across different hardware types, VerusHash 2.0 explicitly enables CPUs to gain even more power relative to GPUs and FPGAs, enabling the most decentralizing hardware, CPUs (due to their virtually complete market penetration), to stay relevant as miners for the indefinite future. As for anonymity, Verus is not a "forced private", allowing for both transparent and shielded (private) transactions...and private messages as well"
If other projects can learn from this and adopt a similar approach or continue to innovate with new ideas, it could mean an end to all the doom and gloom predictions that CPU and GPU mining are dead, offering a much needed reprieve and an alternative to miners who have been faced with the difficult decision of either pulling the plug and shutting down shop or breaking down their rigs to sell off parts and buy new, more expensive hardware…and in so doing present an overall unprecedented level of decentralization not yet seen in cryptocurrency.
Technological advancements led us to the world of secure digital currencies and the progress being made with hardware efficiencies is indisputably beneficial to us all. ASICs and FPGAs aren’t inherently bad, and there are ways in which they could be made more affordable and available for mass distribution. More than anything, it is important that we work together as communities to find solutions that can benefit us all for the long term.
In an ever changing world where it may be easy to lose sight of the real accomplishments that brought us to this point one thing is certain, cryptocurrency is here to stay and the projects that are doing something to solve the current problems in the proof of work consensus mechanism will be the ones that lead us toward our collective vision of a better world- not just for the world of crypto but for each and every one of us.
submitted by Godballz to EtherMining [link] [comments]

The Problem with PoW

The Problem with PoW

Miners have always had it rough..
"Frustrated Miners"


The Problem with PoW
(and what is being done to solve it)

Proof of Work (PoW) is one of the most commonly used consensus mechanisms entrusted to secure and validate many of today’s most successful cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being one. Battle-hardened and having weathered the test of time, Bitcoin has demonstrated the undeniable strength and reliability of the PoW consensus model through sheer market saturation, and of course, its persistency.
In addition to the cost of powerful computing hardware, miners prove that they are benefiting the network by expending energy in the form of electricity, by solving and hashing away complex math problems on their computers, utilizing any suitable tools that they have at their disposal. The mathematics involved in securing proof of work revolve around unique algorithms, each with their own benefits and vulnerabilities, and can require different software/hardware to mine depending on the coin.
Because each block has a unique and entirely random hash, or “puzzle” to solve, the “work” has to be performed for each block individually and the difficulty of the problem can be increased as the speed at which blocks are solved increases.
Hashrates and Hardware Types
While proof of work is an effective means of securing a blockchain, it inherently promotes competition amongst miners seeking higher and higher hashrates due to the rewards earned by the node who wins the right to add the next block. In turn, these higher hash rates benefit the blockchain, providing better security when it’s a result of a well distributed/decentralized network of miners.
When Bitcoin first launched its genesis block, it was mined exclusively by CPUs. Over the years, various programmers and developers have devised newer, faster, and more energy efficient ways to generate higher hashrates; some by perfecting the software end of things, and others, when the incentives are great enough, create expensive specialized hardware such as ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit). With the express purpose of extracting every last bit of hashing power, efficiency being paramount, ASICs are stripped down, bare minimum, hardware representations of a specific coin’s algorithm.
This gives ASICS a massive advantage in terms of raw hashing power and also in terms of energy consumption against CPUs/GPUs, but with significant drawbacks of being very expensive to design/manufacture, translating to a high economic barrier for the casual miner. Due to the fact that they are virtual hardware representations of a single targeted algorithm, this means that if a project decides to fork and change algorithms suddenly, your powerful brand-new ASIC becomes a very expensive paperweight. The high costs in developing and manufacturing ASICs and the associated risks involved, make them unfit for mass adoption at this time.
Somewhere on the high end, in the vast hashrate expanse created between GPU and ASIC, sits the FPGA (field programmable gate array). FPGAs are basically ASICs that make some compromises with efficiency in order to have more flexibility, namely they are reprogrammable and often used in the “field” to test an algorithm before implementing it in an ASIC. As a precursor to the ASIC, FPGAs are somewhat similar to GPUs in their flexibility, but require advanced programming skills and, like ASICs, are expensive and still fairly uncommon.
2 Guys 1 ASIC
One of the issues with proof of work incentivizing the pursuit of higher hashrates is in how the network calculates block reward coinbase payouts and rewards miners based on the work that they have submitted. If a coin generated, say a block a minute, and this is a constant, then what happens if more miners jump on a network and do more work? The network cannot pay out more than 1 block reward per 1 minute, and so a difficulty mechanism is used to maintain balance. The difficulty will scale up and down in response to the overall nethash, so if many miners join the network, or extremely high hashing devices such as ASICs or FPGAs jump on, the network will respond accordingly, using the difficulty mechanism to make the problems harder, effectively giving an edge to hardware that can solve them faster, balancing the network. This not only maintains the block a minute reward but it has the added side-effect of energy requirements that scale up with network adoption.
Imagine, for example, if one miner gets on a network all alone with a CPU doing 50 MH/s and is getting all 100 coins that can possibly be paid out in a day. Then, if another miner jumps on the network with the same CPU, each miner would receive 50 coins in a day instead of 100 since they are splitting the required work evenly, despite the fact that the net electrical output has doubled along with the work. Electricity costs miner’s money and is a factor in driving up coin price along with adoption, and since more people are now mining, the coin is less centralized. Now let’s say a large corporation has found it profitable to manufacture an ASIC for this coin, knowing they will make their money back mining it or selling the units to professionals. They join the network doing 900 MH/s and will be pulling in 90 coins a day, while the two guys with their CPUs each get 5 now. Those two guys aren’t very happy, but the corporation is. Not only does this negatively affect the miners, it compromises the security of the entire network by centralizing the coin supply and hashrate, opening the doors to double spends and 51% attacks from potential malicious actors. Uncertainty of motives and questionable validity in a distributed ledger do not mix.
When technology advances in a field, it is usually applauded and welcomed with open arms, but in the world of crypto things can work quite differently. One of the glaring flaws in the current model and the advent of specialized hardware is that it’s never ending. Suppose the two men from the rather extreme example above took out a loan to get themselves that ASIC they heard about that can get them 90 coins a day? When they join the other ASIC on the network, the difficulty adjusts to keep daily payouts consistent at 100, and they will each receive only 33 coins instead of 90 since the reward is now being split three ways. Now what happens if a better ASIC is released by that corporation? Hopefully, those two guys were able to pay off their loans and sell their old ASICs before they became obsolete.
This system, as it stands now, only perpetuates a never ending hashrate arms race in which the weapons of choice are usually a combination of efficiency, economics, profitability and in some cases control.
Implications of Centralization
This brings us to another big concern with expensive specialized hardware: the risk of centralization. Because they are so expensive and inaccessible to the casual miner, ASICs and FPGAs predominantly remain limited to a select few. Centralization occurs when one small group or a single entity controls the vast majority hash power and, as a result, coin supply and is able to exert its influence to manipulate the market or in some cases, the network itself (usually the case of dishonest nodes or bad actors).
This is entirely antithetical of what cryptocurrency was born of, and since its inception many concerted efforts have been made to avoid centralization at all costs. An entity in control of a centralized coin would have the power to manipulate the price, and having a centralized hashrate would enable them to affect network usability, reliability, and even perform double spends leading to the demise of a coin, among other things.
The world of crypto is a strange new place, with rapidly growing advancements across many fields, economies, and boarders, leaving plenty of room for improvement; while it may feel like a never-ending game of catch up, there are many talented developers and programmers working around the clock to bring us all more sustainable solutions.
The Rise of FPGAs
With the recent implementation of the commonly used coding language C++, and due to their overall flexibility, FPGAs are becoming somewhat more common, especially in larger farms and in industrial setting; but they still remain primarily out of the hands of most mining enthusiasts and almost unheard of to the average hobby miner. Things appear to be changing though, one example of which I’ll discuss below, and it is thought by some, that soon we will see a day when mining with a CPU or GPU just won’t cut it any longer, and the market will be dominated by FPGAs and specialized ASICs, bringing with them efficiency gains for proof of work, while also carelessly leading us all towards the next round of spending.
A perfect real-world example of the effect specialized hardware has had on the crypto-community was recently discovered involving a fairly new project called VerusCoin and a fairly new, relatively more economically accessible FPGA. The FPGA is designed to target specific alt-coins whose algo’s do not require RAM overhead. It was discovered the company had released a new algorithm, kept secret from the public, which could effectively mine Verus at 20x the speed of GPUs, which were the next fastest hardware types mining on the Verus network.
Unfortunately this was done with a deliberately secret approach, calling the Verus algorithm “Algo1” and encouraging owners of the FPGA to never speak of the algorithm in public channels, admonishing a user when they did let the cat out of the bag. The problem with this business model is that it is parasitic in nature. In an ecosystem where advancements can benefit the entire crypto community, this sort of secret mining approach also does not support the philosophies set forth by the Bitcoin or subsequent open source and decentralization movements.
Although this was not done in the spirit of open source, it does hint to an important step in hardware innovation where we could see more efficient specialized systems within reach of the casual miner. The FPGA requires unique sets of data called a bitstream in order to be able to recognize each individual coin’s algorithm and mine them. Because it’s reprogrammable, with the support of a strong development team creating such bitstreams, the miner doesn’t end up with a brick if an algorithm changes.
All is not lost thanks to.. um.. Technology?
Shortly after discovering FPGAs on the network, the Verus developers quickly designed, tested, and implemented a new, much more complex and improved algorithm via a fork that enabled Verus to transition smoothly from VerusHash 1.0 to VerusHash 2.0 at block 310,000. Since the fork, VerusHash 2.0 has demonstrated doing exactly what it was designed for- equalizing hardware performance relative to the device being used while enabling CPUs (the most widely available “ASICs”) to mine side by side with GPUs, at a profit and it appears this will also apply to other specialized hardware. This is something no other project has been able to do until now. Rather than pursue the folly of so many other projects before it- attempting to be “ASIC proof”, Verus effectively achieved and presents to the world an entirely new model of “hardware homogeny”. As the late, great, Bruce Lee once said- “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.”
In the design of VerusHash 2.0, Verus has shown it doesn’t resist progress like so many other new algorithms try to do, it embraces change and adapts to it in the way that water becomes whatever vessel it inhabits. This new approach- an industry first- could very well become an industry standard and in doing so, would usher in a new age for proof of work based coins. VerusHash 2.0 has the potential to correct the single largest design flaw in the proof of work consensus mechanism- the ever expanding monetary and energy requirements that have plagued PoW based projects since the inception of the consensus mechanism. Verus also solves another major issue of coin and net hash centralization by enabling legitimate CPU mining, offering greater coin and hashrate distribution.
Digging a bit deeper it turns out the Verus development team are no rookies. The lead developer Michael F Toutonghi has spent decades in the field programming and is a former Vice President and Technical Fellow at Microsoft, recognized founder and architect of Microsoft's .Net platform, ex-Technical Fellow of Microsoft's advertising platform, ex-CTO, Parallels Corporation, and an experienced distributed computing and machine learning architect. The project he helped create employs and makes use of a diverse myriad of technologies and security features to form one of the most advanced and secure cryptocurrency to date. A brief description of what makes VerusCoin special quoted from a community member-
"Verus has a unique and new consensus algorithm called Proof of Power which is a 50% PoW/50% PoS algorithm that solves theoretical weaknesses in other PoS systems (Nothing at Stake problem for example) and is provably immune to 51% hash attacks. With this, Verus uses the new hash algorithm, VerusHash 2.0. VerusHash 2.0 is designed to better equalize mining across all hardware platforms, while favoring the latest CPUs over older types, which is also one defense against the centralizing potential of botnets. Unlike past efforts to equalize hardware hash-rates across different hardware types, VerusHash 2.0 explicitly enables CPUs to gain even more power relative to GPUs and FPGAs, enabling the most decentralizing hardware, CPUs (due to their virtually complete market penetration), to stay relevant as miners for the indefinite future. As for anonymity, Verus is not a "forced private", allowing for both transparent and shielded (private) transactions...and private messages as well"
If other projects can learn from this and adopt a similar approach or continue to innovate with new ideas, it could mean an end to all the doom and gloom predictions that CPU and GPU mining are dead, offering a much needed reprieve and an alternative to miners who have been faced with the difficult decision of either pulling the plug and shutting down shop or breaking down their rigs to sell off parts and buy new, more expensive hardware…and in so doing present an overall unprecedented level of decentralization not yet seen in cryptocurrency.
Technological advancements led us to the world of secure digital currencies and the progress being made with hardware efficiencies is indisputably beneficial to us all. ASICs and FPGAs aren’t inherently bad, and there are ways in which they could be made more affordable and available for mass distribution. More than anything, it is important that we work together as communities to find solutions that can benefit us all for the long term.
In an ever changing world where it may be easy to lose sight of the real accomplishments that brought us to this point one thing is certain, cryptocurrency is here to stay and the projects that are doing something to solve the current problems in the proof of work consensus mechanism will be the ones that lead us toward our collective vision of a better world- not just for the world of crypto but for each and every one of us.
submitted by Godballz to gpumining [link] [comments]

The Problem with PoW

"Frustrated Miners"

The Problem with PoW
(and what is being done to solve it)

Proof of Work (PoW) is one of the most commonly used consensus mechanisms entrusted to secure and validate many of today’s most successful cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being one. Battle-hardened and having weathered the test of time, Bitcoin has demonstrated the undeniable strength and reliability of the PoW consensus model through sheer market saturation, and of course, its persistency.
In addition to the cost of powerful computing hardware, miners prove that they are benefiting the network by expending energy in the form of electricity, by solving and hashing away complex math problems on their computers, utilizing any suitable tools that they have at their disposal. The mathematics involved in securing proof of work revolve around unique algorithms, each with their own benefits and vulnerabilities, and can require different software/hardware to mine depending on the coin.
Because each block has a unique and entirely random hash, or “puzzle” to solve, the “work” has to be performed for each block individually and the difficulty of the problem can be increased as the speed at which blocks are solved increases.

Hashrates and Hardware Types

While proof of work is an effective means of securing a blockchain, it inherently promotes competition amongst miners seeking higher and higher hashrates due to the rewards earned by the node who wins the right to add the next block. In turn, these higher hash rates benefit the blockchain, providing better security when it’s a result of a well distributed/decentralized network of miners.
When Bitcoin first launched its genesis block, it was mined exclusively by CPUs. Over the years, various programmers and developers have devised newer, faster, and more energy efficient ways to generate higher hashrates; some by perfecting the software end of things, and others, when the incentives are great enough, create expensive specialized hardware such as ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit). With the express purpose of extracting every last bit of hashing power, efficiency being paramount, ASICs are stripped down, bare minimum, hardware representations of a specific coin’s algorithm.
This gives ASICS a massive advantage in terms of raw hashing power and also in terms of energy consumption against CPUs/GPUs, but with significant drawbacks of being very expensive to design/manufacture, translating to a high economic barrier for the casual miner. Due to the fact that they are virtual hardware representations of a single targeted algorithm, this means that if a project decides to fork and change algorithms suddenly, your powerful brand-new ASIC becomes a very expensive paperweight. The high costs in developing and manufacturing ASICs and the associated risks involved, make them unfit for mass adoption at this time.
Somewhere on the high end, in the vast hashrate expanse created between GPU and ASIC, sits the FPGA (field programmable gate array). FPGAs are basically ASICs that make some compromises with efficiency in order to have more flexibility, namely they are reprogrammable and often used in the “field” to test an algorithm before implementing it in an ASIC. As a precursor to the ASIC, FPGAs are somewhat similar to GPUs in their flexibility, but require advanced programming skills and, like ASICs, are expensive and still fairly uncommon.

2 Guys 1 ASIC

One of the issues with proof of work incentivizing the pursuit of higher hashrates is in how the network calculates block reward coinbase payouts and rewards miners based on the work that they have submitted. If a coin generated, say a block a minute, and this is a constant, then what happens if more miners jump on a network and do more work? The network cannot pay out more than 1 block reward per 1 minute, and so a difficulty mechanism is used to maintain balance. The difficulty will scale up and down in response to the overall nethash, so if many miners join the network, or extremely high hashing devices such as ASICs or FPGAs jump on, the network will respond accordingly, using the difficulty mechanism to make the problems harder, effectively giving an edge to hardware that can solve them faster, balancing the network. This not only maintains the block a minute reward but it has the added side-effect of energy requirements that scale up with network adoption.
Imagine, for example, if one miner gets on a network all alone with a CPU doing 50 MH/s and is getting all 100 coins that can possibly be paid out in a day. Then, if another miner jumps on the network with the same CPU, each miner would receive 50 coins in a day instead of 100 since they are splitting the required work evenly, despite the fact that the net electrical output has doubled along with the work. Electricity costs miner’s money and is a factor in driving up coin price along with adoption, and since more people are now mining, the coin is less centralized. Now let’s say a large corporation has found it profitable to manufacture an ASIC for this coin, knowing they will make their money back mining it or selling the units to professionals. They join the network doing 900 MH/s and will be pulling in 90 coins a day, while the two guys with their CPUs each get 5 now. Those two guys aren’t very happy, but the corporation is. Not only does this negatively affect the miners, it compromises the security of the entire network by centralizing the coin supply and hashrate, opening the doors to double spends and 51% attacks from potential malicious actors. Uncertainty of motives and questionable validity in a distributed ledger do not mix.
When technology advances in a field, it is usually applauded and welcomed with open arms, but in the world of crypto things can work quite differently. One of the glaring flaws in the current model and the advent of specialized hardware is that it’s never ending. Suppose the two men from the rather extreme example above took out a loan to get themselves that ASIC they heard about that can get them 90 coins a day? When they join the other ASIC on the network, the difficulty adjusts to keep daily payouts consistent at 100, and they will each receive only 33 coins instead of 90 since the reward is now being split three ways. Now what happens if a better ASIC is released by that corporation? Hopefully, those two guys were able to pay off their loans and sell their old ASICs before they became obsolete.
This system, as it stands now, only perpetuates a never ending hashrate arms race in which the weapons of choice are usually a combination of efficiency, economics, profitability and in some cases control.

Implications of Centralization

This brings us to another big concern with expensive specialized hardware: the risk of centralization. Because they are so expensive and inaccessible to the casual miner, ASICs and FPGAs predominantly remain limited to a select few. Centralization occurs when one small group or a single entity controls the vast majority hash power and, as a result, coin supply and is able to exert its influence to manipulate the market or in some cases, the network itself (usually the case of dishonest nodes or bad actors).
This is entirely antithetical of what cryptocurrency was born of, and since its inception many concerted efforts have been made to avoid centralization at all costs. An entity in control of a centralized coin would have the power to manipulate the price, and having a centralized hashrate would enable them to affect network usability, reliability, and even perform double spends leading to the demise of a coin, among other things.
The world of crypto is a strange new place, with rapidly growing advancements across many fields, economies, and boarders, leaving plenty of room for improvement; while it may feel like a never-ending game of catch up, there are many talented developers and programmers working around the clock to bring us all more sustainable solutions.

The Rise of FPGAs

With the recent implementation of the commonly used coding language C++, and due to their overall flexibility, FPGAs are becoming somewhat more common, especially in larger farms and in industrial setting; but they still remain primarily out of the hands of most mining enthusiasts and almost unheard of to the average hobby miner. Things appear to be changing though, one example of which I’ll discuss below, and it is thought by some, that soon we will see a day when mining with a CPU or GPU just won’t cut it any longer, and the market will be dominated by FPGAs and specialized ASICs, bringing with them efficiency gains for proof of work, while also carelessly leading us all towards the next round of spending.
A perfect real-world example of the effect specialized hardware has had on the crypto-community was recently discovered involving a fairly new project called Verus Coin (https://veruscoin.io/) and a fairly new, relatively more economically accessible FPGA. The FPGA is designed to target specific alt-coins whose algo’s do not require RAM overhead. It was discovered the company had released a new algorithm, kept secret from the public, which could effectively mine Verus at 20x the speed of GPUs, which were the next fastest hardware types mining on the Verus network.
Unfortunately this was done with a deliberately secret approach, calling the Verus algorithm “Algo1” and encouraging owners of the FPGA to never speak of the algorithm in public channels, admonishing a user when they did let the cat out of the bag. The problem with this business model is that it is parasitic in nature. In an ecosystem where advancements can benefit the entire crypto community, this sort of secret mining approach also does not support the philosophies set forth by the Bitcoin or subsequent open source and decentralization movements.
Although this was not done in the spirit of open source, it does hint to an important step in hardware innovation where we could see more efficient specialized systems within reach of the casual miner. The FPGA requires unique sets of data called a bitstream in order to be able to recognize each individual coin’s algorithm and mine them. Because it’s reprogrammable, with the support of a strong development team creating such bitstreams, the miner doesn’t end up with a brick if an algorithm changes.

All is not lost thanks to.. um.. Technology?

Shortly after discovering FPGAs on the network, the Verus developers quickly designed, tested, and implemented a new, much more complex and improved algorithm via a fork that enabled Verus to transition smoothly from VerusHash 1.0 to VerusHash 2.0 at block 310,000. Since the fork, VerusHash 2.0 has demonstrated doing exactly what it was designed for- equalizing hardware performance relative to the device being used while enabling CPUs (the most widely available “ASICs”) to mine side by side with GPUs, at a profit and it appears this will also apply to other specialized hardware. This is something no other project has been able to do until now. Rather than pursue the folly of so many other projects before it- attempting to be “ASIC proof”, Verus effectively achieved and presents to the world an entirely new model of “hardware homogeny”. As the late, great, Bruce Lee once said- “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.”
In the design of VerusHash 2.0, Verus has shown it doesn’t resist progress like so many other new algorithms try to do, it embraces change and adapts to it in the way that water becomes whatever vessel it inhabits. This new approach- an industry first- could very well become an industry standard and in doing so, would usher in a new age for proof of work based coins. VerusHash 2.0 has the potential to correct the single largest design flaw in the proof of work consensus mechanism- the ever expanding monetary and energy requirements that have plagued PoW based projects since the inception of the consensus mechanism. Verus also solves another major issue of coin and net hash centralization by enabling legitimate CPU mining, offering greater coin and hashrate distribution.
Digging a bit deeper it turns out the Verus development team are no rookies. The lead developer Michael F Toutonghi has spent decades in the field programming and is a former Vice President and Technical Fellow at Microsoft, recognized founder and architect of Microsoft's .Net platform, ex-Technical Fellow of Microsoft's advertising platform, ex-CTO, Parallels Corporation, and an experienced distributed computing and machine learning architect. The project he helped create employs and makes use of a diverse myriad of technologies and security features to form one of the most advanced and secure cryptocurrency to date. A brief description of what makes VerusCoin special quoted from a community member-
"Verus has a unique and new consensus algorithm called Proof of Power which is a 50% PoW/50% PoS algorithm that solves theoretical weaknesses in other PoS systems (Nothing at Stake problem for example) and is provably immune to 51% hash attacks. With this, Verus uses the new hash algorithm, VerusHash 2.0. VerusHash 2.0 is designed to better equalize mining across all hardware platforms, while favoring the latest CPUs over older types, which is also one defense against the centralizing potential of botnets. Unlike past efforts to equalize hardware hash-rates across different hardware types, VerusHash 2.0 explicitly enables CPUs to gain even more power relative to GPUs and FPGAs, enabling the most decentralizing hardware, CPUs (due to their virtually complete market penetration), to stay relevant as miners for the indefinite future. As for anonymity, Verus is not a "forced private", allowing for both transparent and shielded (private) transactions...and private messages as well"

If other projects can learn from this and adopt a similar approach or continue to innovate with new ideas, it could mean an end to all the doom and gloom predictions that CPU and GPU mining are dead, offering a much needed reprieve and an alternative to miners who have been faced with the difficult decision of either pulling the plug and shutting down shop or breaking down their rigs to sell off parts and buy new, more expensive hardware…and in so doing present an overall unprecedented level of decentralization not yet seen in cryptocurrency.
Technological advancements led us to the world of secure digital currencies and the progress being made with hardware efficiencies is indisputably beneficial to us all. ASICs and FPGAs aren’t inherently bad, and there are ways in which they could be made more affordable and available for mass distribution. More than anything, it is important that we work together as communities to find solutions that can benefit us all for the long term.

In an ever changing world where it may be easy to lose sight of the real accomplishments that brought us to this point one thing is certain, cryptocurrency is here to stay and the projects that are doing something to solve the current problems in the proof of work consensus mechanism will be the ones that lead us toward our collective vision of a better world- not just for the world of crypto but for each and every one of us.
submitted by Godballz to CryptoTechnology [link] [comments]

A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a digital asset

Blockchain

Main article: Blockchain
The validity of each cryptocurrency's coins is provided by a blockchain. A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records), called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.[23][26] Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block,[26] a timestamp and transaction data.[27] By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way".[28] For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.
Blockchains are secure by design and are an example of a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralized consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.[29] Blockchains solve the double-spendingproblem without the need of a trusted authority or central server), assuming no 51% attack (that has worked against several cryptocurrencies).

Timestamping

Cryptocurrencies use various timestamping schemes to "prove" the validity of transactions added to the blockchain ledger without the need for a trusted third party.
The first timestamping scheme invented was the proof-of-work scheme. The most widely used proof-of-work schemes are based on SHA-256 and scrypt.[16]
Some other hashing algorithms that are used for proof-of-work include CryptoNight, Blake), SHA-3, and X11#X11).
The proof-of-stake is a method of securing a cryptocurrency network and achieving distributed consensus through requesting users to show ownership of a certain amount of currency. It is different from proof-of-work systems that run difficult hashing algorithms to validate electronic transactions. The scheme is largely dependent on the coin, and there's currently no standard form of it. Some cryptocurrencies use a combined proof-of-work/proof-of-stake scheme.[16]

Mining

📷Hashcoin mine
In cryptocurrency networks, mining is a validation of transactions. For this effort, successful miners obtain new cryptocurrency as a reward. The reward decreases transaction fees by creating a complementary incentive to contribute to the processing power of the network. The rate of generating hashes, which validate any transaction, has been increased by the use of specialized machines such as FPGAs and ASICs running complex hashing algorithms like SHA-256 and Scrypt.[30] This arms race for cheaper-yet-efficient machines has been on since the day the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was introduced in 2009.[30] With more people venturing into the world of virtual currency, generating hashes for this validation has become far more complex over the years, with miners having to invest large sums of money on employing multiple high performance ASICs. Thus the value of the currency obtained for finding a hash often does not justify the amount of money spent on setting up the machines, the cooling facilities to overcome the enormous amount of heat they produce, and the electricity required to run them.[30][31]
Some miners pool resources, sharing their processing power over a network to split the reward equally, according to the amount of work they contributed to the probability of finding a block). A "share" is awarded to members of the mining pool who present a valid partial proof-of-work.
As of February 2018, the Chinese Government halted trading of virtual currency, banned initial coin offerings and shut down mining. Some Chinese miners have since relocated to Canada.[32] One company is operating data centers for mining operations at Canadian oil and gas field sites, due to low gas prices.[33] In June 2018, Hydro Quebec proposed to the provincial government to allocate 500 MW to crypto companies for mining.[34] According to a February 2018 report from Fortune,[35] Iceland has become a haven for cryptocurrency miners in part because of its cheap electricity. Prices are contained because nearly all of the country's energy comes from renewable sources, prompting more mining companies to consider opening operations in Iceland.[citation needed]
In March 2018, a town in Upstate New York put an 18-month moratorium on all cryptocurrency mining in an effort to preserve natural resources and the "character and direction" of the city.[36]

GPU price rise

An increase in cryptocurrency mining increased the demand of graphics cards (GPU) in 2017.[37] Popular favorites of cryptocurrency miners such as Nvidia's GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 graphics cards, as well as AMD's RX 570 and RX 580 GPUs, doubled or tripled in price – or were out of stock.[38] A GTX 1070 Ti which was released at a price of $450 sold for as much as $1100. Another popular card GTX 1060's 6 GB model was released at an MSRP of $250, sold for almost $500. RX 570 and RX 580 cards from AMD were out of stock for almost a year. Miners regularly buy up the entire stock of new GPU's as soon as they are available.[39]
Nvidia has asked retailers to do what they can when it comes to selling GPUs to gamers instead of miners. "Gamers come first for Nvidia," said Boris Böhles, PR manager for Nvidia in the German region.[40]

Wallets

📷An example paper printable bitcoin wallet consisting of one bitcoin address for receiving and the corresponding private key for spendingMain article: Cryptocurrency wallet
A cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private "keys" or "addresses" which can be used to receive or spend the cryptocurrency. With the private key, it is possible to write in the public ledger, effectively spending the associated cryptocurrency. With the public key, it is possible for others to send currency to the wallet.

Anonymity

Bitcoin is pseudonymous rather than anonymous in that the cryptocurrency within a wallet is not tied to people, but rather to one or more specific keys (or "addresses").[41] Thereby, bitcoin owners are not identifiable, but all transactions are publicly available in the blockchain. Still, cryptocurrency exchanges are often required by law to collect the personal information of their users.
Additions such as Zerocoin, Zerocash and CryptoNote have been suggested, which would allow for additional anonymity and fungibility.[42][43]
submitted by TheResearcher012 to GreatLifePostsGoTeam [link] [comments]

The rise of specialized hardware (particularly FPGAs) and its impact on the mining community

The rise of specialized hardware (particularly FPGAs) and its impact on the mining community

Proof of Work (PoW) is one of the most commonly used consensus mechanisms entrusted to secure and validate many of today’s most successful cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being one. Battle-hardened and having weathered the test of time, Bitcoin has demonstrated the undeniable strength and reliability of the PoW consensus model through sheer market saturation, and of course, its persistency.

In addition to the cost of powerful computing hardware, miners prove that they are benefiting the network by expending energy in the form of electricity, by solving and hashing away complex math problems on their computers, utilizing any suitable tools that they have at their disposal. The mathematics involved in securing proof of work revolve around unique algorithms, each with their own benefits and vulnerabilities, and can require different software/hardware to mine depending on the coin.

Because each block has a unique and entirely random hash, or “puzzle” to solve, the “work” has to be performed for each block individually and the difficulty of the problem can be increased as the speed at which blocks are solved increases.

Hashrates and Hardware Types
While proof of work is an effective means of securing a blockchain, it inherently promotes competition amongst miners seeking higher and higher hashrates due to the rewards earned by the node who wins the right to add the next block. In turn, these higher hash rates benefit the blockchain, providing better security when it’s a result of a well distributed/decentralized network of miners.

When Bitcoin first launched its genesis block, it was mined exclusively by CPUs. Over the years, various programmers and developers have devised newer, faster, and more energy efficient ways to generate higher hashrates; some by perfecting the software end of things, and others, when the incentives are great enough, create expensive specialized hardware such as ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit). With the express purpose of extracting every last bit of hashing power, efficiency being paramount, ASICs are stripped down, bare minimum, hardware representations of a specific coin’s algorithm.

This gives ASICS a massive advantage in terms of raw hashing power and also in terms of energy consumption against CPUs/GPUs, but with significant drawbacks of being very expensive to design/manufacture, translating to a high economic barrier for the casual miner. Due to the fact that they are virtual hardware representations of a single targeted algorithm, this means that if a project decides to fork and change algorithms suddenly, your powerful brand-new ASIC becomes a very expensive paperweight. The high costs in developing and manufacturing ASICs and the associated risks involved, make them unfit for mass adoption at this time.

Somewhere on the high end, in the vast hashrate expanse created between GPU and ASIC, sits the FPGA (field programmable gate array). FPGAs are basically ASICs that make some compromises with efficiency in order to have more flexibility, namely they are reprogrammable and often used in the “field” to test an algorithm before implementing it in an ASIC. As a precursor to the ASIC, FPGAs are somewhat similar to GPUs in their flexibility, but require advanced programming skills and, like ASICs, are expensive and still fairly uncommon.

The Arms Race of the Geek
One of the issues with proof of work incentivizing the pursuit of higher hashrates is in how the network calculates block reward coinbase payouts and rewards miners based on the work that they have submitted. If a coin generated, say a block a minute, and this is a constant, then what happens if more miners jump on a network and do more work? The network cannot pay out more than 1 block reward per 1 minute, and so a difficulty mechanism is used to maintain balance. The difficulty will scale up and down in response to the overall nethash, so if many miners join the network, or extremely high hashing devices such as ASICs or FPGAs jump on, the network will respond accordingly, using the difficulty mechanism to make the problems harder, effectively giving an edge to hardware that can solve them faster, balancing the network. This not only maintains the block a minute reward but it has the added side-effect of energy requirements that scale up with network adoption.

Imagine, for example, if one miner gets on a network all alone with a CPU doing 50 MH/s and is getting all 100 coins that can possibly be paid out in a day. Then, if another miner jumps on the network with the same CPU, each miner would receive 50 coins in a day instead of 100 since they are splitting the required work evenly, despite the fact that the net electrical output has doubled along with the work. Electricity costs miner’s money and is a factor in driving up coin price along with adoption, and since more people are now mining, the coin is less centralized. Now let’s say a large corporation has found it profitable to manufacture an ASIC for this coin, knowing they will make their money back mining it or selling the units to professionals. They join the network doing 900 MH/s and will be pulling in 90 coins a day, while the two guys with their CPUs each get 5 now. Those two guys aren’t very happy, but the corporation is. Not only does this negatively affect the miners, it compromises the security of the entire network by centralizing the coin supply and hashrate, opening the doors to double spends and 51% attacks from potential malicious actors. Uncertainty of motives and questionable validity in a distributed ledger do not mix.

When technology advances in a field, it is usually applauded and welcomed with open arms, but in the world of crypto things can work quite differently. One of the glaring flaws in the current model and the advent of specialized hardware is that it’s never ending. Suppose the two men from the rather extreme example above took out a loan to get themselves that ASIC they heard about that can get them 90 coins a day? When they join the other ASIC on the network, the difficulty adjusts to keep daily payouts consistent at 100, and they will each receive only 33 coins instead of 90 since the reward is now being split three ways. Now what happens if a better ASIC is released by that corporation? Hopefully, those two guys were able to pay off their loans and sell their old ASICs before they became obsolete.

This system, as it stands now, only perpetuates a never ending hashrate arms race in which the weapons of choice are usually a combination of efficiency, economics, profitability and in some cases control.

Implications of Centralization
This brings us to another big concern with expensive specialized hardware: the risk of centralization. Because they are so expensive and inaccessible to the casual miner, ASICs and FPGAs predominantly remain limited to a select few. Centralization occurs when one small group or a single entity controls the vast majority hash power and, as a result, coin supply and is able to exert its influence to manipulate the market or in some cases, the network itself (usually the case of dishonest nodes or bad actors).

This is entirely antithetical of what cryptocurrency was born of, and since its inception many concerted efforts have been made to avoid centralization at all costs. An entity in control of a centralized coin would have the power to manipulate the price, and having a centralized hashrate would enable them to affect network usability, reliability, and even perform double spends leading to the demise of a coin, among other things.

The world of crypto is a strange new place, with rapidly growing advancements across many fields, economies, and boarders, leaving plenty of room for improvement; while it may feel like a never-ending game of catch up, there are many talented developers and programmers working around the clock to bring us all more sustainable solutions.

The Rise of FPGAs
With the recent implementation of the commonly used coding language C++, and due to their overall flexibility, FPGAs are becoming somewhat more common, especially in larger farms and in industrial setting; but they still remain primarily out of the hands of most mining enthusiasts and almost unheard of to the average hobby miner. Things appear to be changing though, one example of which I’ll discuss below, and it is thought by some, that soon we will see a day when mining with a CPU or GPU just won’t cut it any longer, and the market will be dominated by FPGAs and specialized ASICs, bringing with them efficiency gains for proof of work, while also carelessly leading us all towards the next round of spending.

A real-world example of the effect specialized hardware has had on the crypto-community was recently discovered involving a fairly new project called Verus Coin (https://veruscoin.io/) and a fairly new, relatively more economically accessible FPGA. The FPGA is designed to target specific alt-coins whose algo’s do not require RAM overhead. It was discovered the company had released a new algorithm, kept secret from the public, which could effectively mine Verus at 20x the speed of GPUs, which were the next fastest hardware types mining on the Verus network.

Unfortunately this was done with a deliberately secret approach, calling the Verus algorithm “Algo1” and encouraging owners of the FPGA to never speak of the algorithm in public channels, admonishing a user when they did let the cat out of the bag. The problem with this business model is that it is parasitic in nature. In an ecosystem where advancements can benefit the entire crypto community, this sort of secret mining approach also does not support the philosophies set forth by the Bitcoin or subsequent open source and decentralization movements.

Although this was not done in the spirit of open source, it does hint to an important step in hardware innovation where we could see more efficient specialized systems within reach of the casual miner. The FPGA requires unique sets of data called a bitstream in order to be able to recognize each individual coin’s algorithm and mine them. Because it’s reprogrammable, with the support of a strong development team creating such bitstreams, the miner doesn’t end up with a brick if an algorithm changes.

Inclusive Hardware Equalization, Security, Decentralization
Shortly after discovering FPGAs on the network, the Verus developers quickly designed, tested, and implemented a new, much more complex and improved algorithm via a fork that enabled Verus to transition smoothly from VerusHash 1.0 to VerusHash 2.0 at block 310,000. Since the fork, VerusHash 2.0 has demonstrated doing exactly what it was designed for- equalizing hardware performance relative to the device being used while enabling CPUs (the most widely available “ASICs”) to mine side by side with GPUs, at a profit and it appears this will also apply to other specialized hardware. This is something no other project has been able to do until now. Rather than pursue the folly of so many other projects before it- attempting to be “ASIC proof”, Verus effectively achieved and presents to the world an entirely new model of “hardware homogeny”. As the late, great, Bruce Lee once said- “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.”

In the design of VerusHash 2.0, Verus has shown it doesn’t resist progress like so many other new algorithms try to do, it embraces change and adapts to it in the way that water becomes whatever vessel it inhabits. This new approach- an industry first- could very well become an industry standard and in doing so, would usher in a new age for proof of work based coins. VerusHash 2.0 has the potential to correct the single largest design flaw in the proof of work consensus mechanism- the ever expanding monetary and energy requirements that have plagued PoW based projects since the inception of the consensus mechanism. Verus also solves another major issue of coin and net hash centralization by enabling legitimate CPU mining, offering greater coin and hashrate distribution.

If other projects adopt Verus’ new algorithm- VerusHash 2.0, it could mean an end to all the doom and gloom predictions that CPU and GPU mining are dead, offering a much needed reprieve and an alternative to miners who have been faced with the difficult decision of either pulling the plug and shutting down shop or breaking down their rigs to sell off parts and buy new, more expensive hardware…and in so doing presents an overall unprecedented level of decentralization not seen in cryptocurrency.

Technological advancements led us to the world of secure digital currencies and the progress being made with hardware efficiencies is indisputably beneficial to us all. ASICs and FPGAs aren’t inherently bad, and there are ways in which they could be made more affordable and available for mass distribution. More than anything, it is important that we work together as communities to find solutions that can benefit us all for the long term.

In an ever changing world where it may be easy to lose sight of the real accomplishments that brought us to this point one thing is certain, VerusHash 2.0 is a shining beacon of hope and a lasting testament to the project’s unwavering dedication to it’s vision of a better world- not just for the world of crypto but for each and every one of us.
submitted by Godballz to CryptoTechnology [link] [comments]

A look into the future regarding Decentralization,ASIC resistance and Vertcoin and other crypto currency (Long Post)

Warning: this post is lengthy because it includes details to understand the current development of Crypto and ASIC resistant Cryptos.
I. Decentralization is the fundamental assumption in the block chain security model:
I am glad that the recent Vertcoin price hike have brought more people to the awareness of crypto-currency decentralization. As decentralization is an assumption in satoshi's white paper, and hence the fundamental aspect in block-chain's security model. It appears that the block-chain security model is not complete. As you can see, there is an obvious concentration of computing power appears in bitcoin where one or two ASICs manufactures are controlling more than 51% of the network hash power. In satoshi's white paper, the assumption of 1 CPU,1 vote, does not hold indefinitely. Just 5-6 years after the inception of blockchain, we appear to have such machine based on ASIC, and the phenomenon of 1 ASIC, 1*103 or more votes, and the magnitude is only seem to be increasing.
Centralization defeats the entire security model of any crypto-currency based on block-chain and its variant. As of the time of the writing the bitcoin network and its public ledger's survival is not based on its invulnerability to rewrite, but based on the fact that the ASIC computing powers that secure the network currently lacks incentive to destroy it. When such incentive arrives the result can be catastrophic. As whoever controls the 51% hash power control the power to modify the block chain. In the Segwit 1 fork, there is worry that the bitcoin chain can not survive. (reference this article for a variety of possibility during a fork where miner controls the majority of hash power: https://medium.com/@jimmysong/uasf-bip148-scenarios-and-game-theory-9530336d953e ). In segwit 2X fork, some miners wants to make their own copy of of the chain, and in the process destroy the original chain. This upcoming fork is much more threatening than every single bitcoin fork comes before it.
II. CPU/GPU vs FPGA vs ASIC - you must understand the differences to understand the ASIC resistance movement
The decentralization problem is not fully solved yet. the crypto community and its developers are left to fill in the question.
As you can see the current approach is to make hashing algorithm to be hard to realize in ASICs. To fully discuss this approach, we must look at the currently available computing hardware architectures. the list go like this:
(CPU and GPU)->FPGA->ASICs.
The list go from the most general purpose,flexible computing hardware to the least flexible, and specific task computing hardware.
The list also go from the worst raw performance(you can say hash power for crypto) to the best raw performance, given a specific task.
CPU, and to a extend GPU are general purposed hardware that can be programmed to perform all tasks, while ASIC(Application Specific Integrated Circuits) can only perform a specific task. FPGA(Field Programmable Gate Arrays) - sits somewhere in the middle, it can be reprogram to perform a specific task better than CPUs and GPUs but the performance and durability is worse than ASIC.
In therms of computing speed,optimization and hence raw performance on a specific task, the list goes in reverse, this is because hashing algorithms and its calculation can be optimize thru parallelism(I have 10 workers to do 1 task 10 times quicker) and pipe-lining (think factory production pipeline with sequential work stations). CPU and General-Purpose GPUs in our computers exploit parallalism and pipe-lining to a degree, But because they are general hardware, the exploitation is limited because they must accommodate all types of possible computation. ASICs, are develop to only accommodate the required computation in a task, and exploit parallelism and pipe-lining to the extreme, this gives rise to ASICs such as AntMiners, where the performance is more than 3 magnitudes better than CPU and GPU.
III. ASIC resistance, and the movement to keep the crypto decentralize
The ultimate goal of alt-coin development is to fill in the void of satoshi's block-chain security model. The void is , How to keep the network decentralized in terms of hashrate/s?
The obvious answer, the first approach, would be to let the most abundant hardware to perform as well as the least abundant hardware. Thus, make an hashing algorithm so that either a CPU can perform as well as ASICs, or make an algorithm so that it is very very hard(cost prohibited) to develop ASICs for.
It appears that this approach is the most successful at the moment, some memory hard algorithms such as Vertcoin's very own Lyra2REv2 has no ASICs currently available.
But on the longer time frame, the profit driven development of ASICs is a definite trend, ASIC resistance is a constant Spear vs Shield game. Being ASIC resistance is not necessarily equivalent to being decentralized.
There are several ramification of being ASIC resistant. First the algorithm is necessarily more complex and cost more electricity on CPU/GPU to perform. Secondly, Developing ASIC for algorithm such as Lyra2REv2 is hard. Because of this hardness, there are fewer people who can develop this than the amount of people who can develop SHA256*bitcoin ASICs. Maybe in the not too distance future bitmain's monopoly over SHA256 ASICs would end and more of us can purchase a bitcoin ASIC, thus the bitcoin network becomes decentralized again. But because it is harder to develop Lyra2REv2 ASICs, once developed the ASIC monopoly can remain for a very long time enough to destroy the network. Because fewer people can do it, it will be more centralized once developed.
This does not mean that Vertcoin's security model is not good. In fact it is very promising. First the hardness to develop Lyra2REv2 ASIC can be to the point of such extrem that no one is able to figure out over an very long period of time. Second, once developed, the devs promise to hard fork the network again with a new algorithm in their tool bag. because the tool bag is unknown, the ASIC development cycle repeats, possibility over a long time.
So the Vertcoin's hashing algo Lyra2REv2 is among the best of all crypto. combining with the fact that a promised evolution of hashing algo once ASIC appear, I dare to say that the security/decentralization model is the best in crypto.
IV. Further discussion regarding ASICs and Network decentralization and security. paradigm switch regarding ASICs
It is in the profit driven nature that an ASIC would apear,Bitcoin already fell, for a memory hard algo, Scrypt and Scrypt-N is thought to be resistant enough, but ASIC appear, thus LiteCoin and The old Vertcoin falls. Vertcoin later forked and adapt to Lyra2 , and sub sequently Lyra2REv2 and remain the most secure coin.
For the ones used by GroestleCoin(Groestl), Decred(Blake256), SteinCoin(Stein256) , although there is no ASICs, but over an infinite horizon, the ASIC will appear this coins can all flop over night, if they do not adapt to the changes , Like what Vertcoin can do.
I think in the infinitely long term, there are 2 solution.
1st the same as Vertcoin, Keep ASICs out, and keep evolving the unknown puzzle bag for replacement if ASICs appear.
2nd, Amend the algorithm so that the theoretical upper bound in the speed up from ASIC is low. This requires making most calculations sequential and none-associative, with a slow bottle neck. thus parallal and pipe-lining machine can not take too much advantage. After that make ASIC development an open source, community movement, so that the entire community is guarantee to enjoy the advancement in ASICs. This would guarantee that the advantage from a new novel asic is small compare to what the community have, and limit the degree of concentration of hash power. ASIC can also benefit the network by reducing power consumption and increase transaction speed.
V. Conclusion
The current security model of Bitcoin is flawed and Vertcoin's solution is the current best at tackling the security concern. The promise of evolution of Vertcoin's Lyra2REv2 can be a viable long term solution to the Spear vs Shield game of ASICs. Nonetheless, I think we are making good progress of filling the void. I hope the future decentralization solution of Vertcoin can evolve past the paradigm of strictly ASIC resistance, and considering community driven and fair distribution of ASICs. I hope everyone in crypto can participate in this discussion.
Disclosure: I hold Vertcoin, 100% of my porfolio :).
submitted by bntyjx to vertcoin [link] [comments]

How To Reduce Energy Consumption In The Midst Of Crypto Popularity

How To Reduce Energy Consumption In The Midst Of Crypto Popularity
Electrical energy has become an integral part of everyday modern life. It’s used to power our bulbs and home appliances, trains, and even charge electric vehicles. Globally, its use is rising rapidly as different economies across the globe develop. Therefore, there is a growing need for energy which in turn continually drives the demand for electricity generation. For years now, most of the electricity consumed on a global scale has been generated from three energy sources: fossil fuel, nuclear, and hydro. Renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic (solar power), offer an alternative, albeit small, a share of the world’s electricity. However, our energy sources can have significant environmental impacts.


Cryptocurrency Mining, Then Versus Now
Back in the day, 2009 to be precise, Bitcoin mining was nothing more than a lucrative hobby for several crypto enthusiasts. Miners could leverage their CPUs to mine Bitcoin as they were enough. It was possible because the only hardware needed for mining was a simple computer and the number of miners was significantly low. In fact, in the early stages, Hal Finney and Satoshi were the only ones mining BTC through the use of several computers simultaneously. Satoshi mined 1,000,000 Bitcoins in the first week of the project, courtesy of several computers.
At that time, the difficulty of mining was extremely low. However, over time, the problem has shot up drastically courtesy of Bitcoin’s rules and a change in new and advanced mining hardware. At the start, individuals would use CPUs (Central Processing Units) to mine BTC. CPUs represent the electronic circuitry within a computer.

Back in 2009, a miner would generate bitcoins at a rate of 50 per block. Gradually, people made the shift to GPU mining which was comfortable and lucrative to use. Due to this, GPU mining became extremely popular, and in 2011, people started using them. Soon after, the mining difficulty increased, and by June 2011, people began using FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays). Shortly after that, in 2013, FPGAs gave way to ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) that have made BTC mining industrious.
Currently, the Bitcoin mining process requires about 73.04 TWh of computational power to solve complex mathematical equations per year. This equates to about 0.33% of the total global electricity consumption. One Bitcoin transaction on average consumes about 916 KWh of electricity that could power about 31 US households. Mining is no longer lucrative for individual miners as setting up needs specialized mining rigs that are expensive to buy and operate.

For instance, it would set a single Bitcoin miner back around $15,861 to mine one bitcoin in the Cook Islands near New Zealand. The cost rises to about $16,209 in the Solomon Islands located near Papua New Guinea. The prices of mining one Bitcoin further rise in Bahrain, Niue, and South Korea with amounts of $16,773, $17,566, and $26,170 respectively.

Mining creates enormous electricity bills through energy consumption and cooling (and that’s on top of the cost of mining equipment and, nowadays, a facility to house your rows and towers of machines). The current BTC network is estimated to be consuming about 2.55 gigawatts (GW) of electricity annually which is enough to power a whole country. For context, the entire state of Ireland consumes an average of 3.1 GW of electricity.

Potential Consequence of High Non-Renewable Energy Usage
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The most well-known impact of increased non-renewable sources usage is the production of greenhouse gases mainly CO2 that is believed by many to contribute to climate change (though much of this is politicized hype). Different types of non-renewable energies produce different levels of greenhouse gases. For example, coal provides the highest amount of CO2 emission. It’s important to note that CO2 is plant food (and plants produce oxygen), is what every breathing creature emits when exhaling, and climate change (formerly Global Cooling, formerly Global Warming) is not agreed upon by scientists to be caused by human activity, as there are a myriad of other, likely much more influential factors, such as solar cycles. It’s also worth noting that climate change has always happened, with warmer and colder periods, and what has been hyped up in the last decade is a tiny percentage of what humanity has witnessed, without industry. Predictions of the world ending disastrously in a few short years if we don’t do something politically have fallen flat.
It is worth noting that the above factor will also depend upon how efficient the engines using these fuels are, and filtering systems to reduce emissions. Modern technology can produce very efficient, low emission engines which use fossil fuels.

Token Creation (PoW/PoS/DPoS)
Proof-of-Work (PoW) is a term that’s usually used to denote the kind of concept that the Bitcoin network uses to validate and add transactions to the blockchain. It involves the use of ASICs in mining to solve complex mathematical algorithms otherwise known as PoW problems. Although PoW is excellent against cyber-attacks, it has a major limitation of high electricity consumption. Furthermore, mining rigs require top computing hardware that’s expensive to attain. Some of the projects using the PoW consensus algorithm include Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash, Zcash, Litecoin, and DogeCoin. Ethereum is intended to make the change from PoW to PoS via the Casper protocol.

Proof-of-Stake (PoS), on the other hand, is an alternative way of validating transactions or blocks. It was engineered as an alternative to the PoW process that consumes an immense amount of energy. Unlike Proof-of-Work, coins are no longer mined but are forged or minted. Block validation is done by a select group of individuals known as validators. They are chosen depending on the age and amount of stake they hold within the blockchain network. Some of the projects using the PoS algorithm include Dash, QTUM, NEO, NavCoin, Stellar Lumen, Zcoin, and Stratis.

Benefits of the PoS system include:
Less expensive hardware is required.

Transaction times are much faster.

It is energy efficient as it doesn’t consume a lot of energy.

Delegated Proof-of-Stake, otherwise known as DPoS, is a new and alternative protocol to both the PoW and PoS consensus algorithms. It’s mostly considered to be the most decentralized consensus model in existence today. This is mostly because every token holder has a degree of influence about what happens in the network. DPoS uses the power of stakeholder approval voting to promote consensus in a fair and democratic manner. Projects using DPoS include Lisk, Ark, Rise, Tezos, OxyCoin, Shift, Lightning BTC, and EOS, among others.

Conclusion
Blockchain projects around the world can help reduce energy consumption by taking alternative routes in the cryptocurrency mining process. First, blockchain projects can make the switch from the PoW system to the PoS system which is much cheaper and consumes less energy. Secondly, cryptocurrency miners can make the switch to cleaner and friendly renewable sources of energy such as solar energy. Lastly, blockchain networks can incentivize miners to use renewable energy resources by offering additional rewards for those that utilize them.
submitted by JustPowerIT to JustPowerIT [link] [comments]

Mining. What will the “arms race” lead to?

The ten-year history of the blockchain has gradually convinced world experts that this phenomenon can still become the starting point for the transformation of the entire world economy. Perhaps this is still not a revolution and the technology is far from perfect.
But the main thing is that the precedent has been created and the development of alternatives in this direction is going on by leaps and bounds. The financial sphere is not the only one where the incentives are created by blockchain. A powerful infrastructure is built around it with attempts to implement technology into other spheres of human life. The production of crypto-currency, known to everyone as mining is one of such means. Cryptocurrency is the collective noun for digital currencies created on the basis of blockchain technology. For encryption, there is a special principle of cryptography, which protects information about transactions from theft and counterfeiting.
Mining is the process of cryptographic calculations with a use of special equipment. For Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies, it is the only way to maintain the integrity and workability of the system. Here is a brief description of the operating principle for the newcomers. Technology creates the ability to transfer value (information) from one user to another. At the same time, the transfer of non-existent value and the transfer of one unit to several addressees are excluded. The key to this is a large number of participants in the system and the economic motivation of the miners. Once a transaction is initiated in the system, it becomes visible to all participants. This transparency is both the main feature and the advantage of blockchain. No transaction is considered committed until the information about it gets into the so-called block and will be confirmed several times – this is the function that the miners provide. For a block to be considered generated, the program must compute a hash function – a unique alphanumeric code that contains information about the previous block. Thus, the distributed database in the blockchain is a chain of blocks, each of which refers to the previous one and stores the history of all transactions that occurred since the first coin appeared. Once the block takes its place in the chain, the miner who generated it receives a cryptocurrency reward – this is how coins are issued. In addition, the miners receive a commission from each transaction.
Blockchain – the technology of recording and storing information, when data is written in a continuous chain of blocks. It is based on the principle of distributed registries - information is copied and stored not on one server, but on all computers that are part of the blockchain system.
Now let's take a quick look at the evolution of mining, touching only the significant events. It all began in 2008, when an unknown programmer published a document on the network describing the algorithm of the quasi-monetary tool based on the technology of the blockchain. According to the published algorithm of Satoshi Nakamoto, the author of the document, the remuneration of the miners is reduced by 50% every 210 thousand of mined blocks. At that time, each newly generated block brought 50 new coins. Now more than 477 thousand blocks have been generated, and the reward for each new one has fallen to 12.5 BTC. It is expected that by 2140 year the reward will be so small that the issue will virtually stop and the volume of bitcoins will not exceed 21 million BTC. According to the idea of the creator, this will protect the cryptocurrency from inflation. It is unknown now whether Satoshi assumed or not how quickly his offspring would grow up. Mining on PC processors, the most massive chips in the world, supposed to make Bitcoin truly decentralized and popular. But for a while it still remained only the entertainment of geeks and enthusiasts. By 2010, the both Bitcoin exchange rate and popularity had grown so much that its mining started to yield a small income. Mining began to move to commercial sphere and the rivalry triggered technological race.
The Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study research has shown that since Bitcoin appeared, the miners have earned more than $2 billion on mining and $14 billion on commissions from transactions.
In the summer of that year, a mining farm was first launched on the GPU and the first block was mined using parallel computations. Since then, the age of industrial mining began. Having smelt the money, miners around the world rushed to buy computer graphics cards. Despite the constant increase in equipment costs and attendant maintenance problems, the mining farms continue to attract new followers even now. According to the growing complexity of the cryptocurrency mining, pools, the miner unions, began to form. For one block search, a large number of farms with a high capacity are used, and the reward is divided due to the "labor participation" in it. The power consumption of one GPU is about 200 W, the average power of a medium farm is comparable or even higher than the equipment index in the data center. The problem of energy supply, as well as the noise level and heat that the equipment produces, does not allow the creation of large farms at home. For these reasons, mining has moved to warehousing areas where there is no problem with either noise or cooling, and electricity is available at industrial tariffs. The competition in the niche of the mining farms continues to increase, bringing new profits to the component manufacturers.
Farm is a data center that combines several video cards (GPUs). It shows high computing power, which allows several cryptocurrencies to be mined simultaneously.
In 2011, it became obvious that GPU farms consume too much electricity, require constant attention and additional costs. Enthusiasts were searching for solutions to reduce these expenses. The third mining business development iteration led to the appearance of miners on FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips. Such devices were quite expensive, but much more compact, stable and more energy efficient than the GPU farms. Energy consumption save was thousands of percent. But still, video cards remained the mass solution. Most likely the niche specialization of such machines was the impediment to their popularity. FPGA-miners did not last long and remained a niche product, which did not play a significant role in mass mining. But the developments of manufacturers of these devices were useful to ASIC-miners, which became the next generation of equipment for cryptocurrency mining. Unlike FPGAs, which are used for a variety of tasks, ASIC chips (Application Specific Integrated Cirquit) were designed to perform only one task. But they perform it much better than any farm. The difference in performance of similar devices makes tens of times. However, there is also a downside, which prevents the mass distribution of ASIC-miners - zero liquidity in the secondary market. They work according to the algorithm, which allows mining of only three cryptocurrencies known today. The production of this specific equipment lasts even now, but all producers have problems with delivery. This is indicated by the general complaints of customers at specialized forums. In the context of battered cryptocurrency rate, this factor strongly inhibits their sales. The "arms race" being an endless capacity build-up has reached the level when the most popular cryptocurrency mining is no longer economically justified. The current size of one Bitcoin block is 1 MB, which allows the system to process no more than seven transactions per second. Visa or MasterCard payment systems witness such index to reach about two thousand, with capacity expenses being several times lower. This makes the entire system clumsy and inconvenient, and increasing the commission from each transaction for the miners can ruin the Bitcoin economy, as well as any other coin economy.
ASIC – processors are manufactured with a special mining-friendly architecture. Such devices have a high payback rate and are easy to maintain. Among cons are low liquidity in the secondary market and rapid ASIC outdate due to the growing complexity of the network.
A complexity increase obviously cannot last forever and, sooner or later, there must be a transition to the next level. And this is the turning point where many questions may appear. What is the possible way of blockchain and mining development? This is important to understand, because an equipment worth hundreds of millions is at stake! What if it suddenly becomes useless? There are several assumptions. The first way is to reduce costs. Some hopes for this are provided by the development of alternative energy. Receiving freemium energy will reduce the cost of mining. This issue is regularly discussed on specialized forums. The creation of farms using solar, wind and geothermal power is still only at the stage of the concept. There have not been any major projects implemented. Due to the fact that the cost of equipment is still large, the entry threshold with such systems is very high, and the payback of equipment is still slow and thus risky. It is unlikely that this will become mainstream for the next five years, but the possibility of a breakthrough technology that makes renewable energy available, still exists. The second possible script is the abandonment of mining as a phenomenon. Bitcoin, which implies the efficiency of mining depending directly on the equipment productivity, uses the Proof-of-Work protocol. Some cryptocurrencies use the Proof-of-Stake protocol. They do not imply mining as a mandatory process at all. The system exists due to the circulation of cryptocurrency among users. By the way, this protocol is the one that Ethereum platform is planning to move to. This has already been stated by Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum: "When we move to the Proof-of-Stake protocol, the need for ether mining will drop sharply even at the first stage. Proof-of-Stake uses an algorithm which does not require that a large number of computers constantly make calculations. This is an algorithm where a coin is used inside the platform itself. The consensus will become much cheaper and safer. And in fact, miners can lose their business." Imagine the joy of computer gamers when suddenly the CPU prices fall dramatically! Now it is too early to speak about panic, but if the creators of other cryptocurrencies will consider this... The third way is to reduce the complexity of computation in the blockchain due to the use of alternative protocols of cryptography. Some industry enthusiasts are already working on such projects. If the complexity of the calculations goes beyond the reasonable, then why not change the operation of the system in general? So did, for example, the creators of Blockchain Ventureon.
Anton Sobor, the BDM of Ventureon, claimed: "The complexity of mining is laid by the blockchain creators themselves. What are they motivated by while creating such complicated algorithms? The answer remains unclear. The complexity has inconsiderable affect on safety. Creating our project, we proceed from the personal experience of our cryptography specialists, as well as from the principle of "necessary is enough". All the functions of the blockchain are preserved, with security only increasing, and complexity decreasing prominently."
It is also interesting that Ventureon mining does not require GPU. It is planned instead to create server-side mining pools, probably for easier and less expensive connection of the miners. This is likely to become a great advantage over another farms.
Of course, these are not all possible ways of mining industry development, but only the most vivid and obvious directions. There is one thing to say for sure. Mining being a mass business will exist only if the rate of specific cryptocurrencies increases. And this, in turn, depends on whether the blockchain will be accepted into the world economic system, as an alternative financial tool. The attempts to regulate the circulation of cryptocurrency at the level of individual states cause a strong resonance of the crypto community. That is perfectly visible on fluctuations of the rates of the basic cryptocurrencies. But, in my opinion, it is not possible to strangle the initiative of enthusiasts completely. The point of no return has been already reached. Blockchain as a phenomenon has been proved to be effective and will develop further, influencing the society strongly. And only time will tell what its future will be.
submitted by VentureOnICO to crypto_mining [link] [comments]

Bitcoin Mining Explained Bitcoin Miner Software - how to mine bitcoins faster !? What is an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array)?  FPGA ... Should You Buy FPGAs And GPU Mining Rigs? Earn From Crypto Blogging Platforms? Bitcoin Earning Methods and ASIC MIning Farm (URDU PAKISTAN)

Field-Programmable Gate Array Posted on : May 6, 2019 by : BlockGlossary. Share This. Tweet: Meaning of Field-Programmable Gate Array. It is an early mining equipment which was in vogue and leading Bitcoin miner in 2010 to 2013 before it became obsolete and replaced by ASIC Miner. FPGA had upto 25GH/S mining power. Related Articles: Blockchain Dictionary: FPGA « Back to Dictionary Index ... Field programmable gate array (FPGA) is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by the customer or designer after manufacturing—hence "field-programmable".FPGAs are integrated circuits that can be tailored to suit a particular task like mining bitcoins, after their manufacturing thus creating ASIC. The Field Programmable Gate Array (or FPGA for short) are effectively mining rigs that can be quickly programmed with a good deal of speed and ease. If there was ever a need for a dedicated mining network to spontaneously change the makeup of its algorithm, FPGA can make the changes needed. FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) Mining. FPGAs, like GPUs, can change algorithms, making them adaptable. Unlike with GPU mining, however, you’ll need to build both the digital circuit design and the software. It’s not user-friendly, and it may take weeks or even months to build your system. FPGAs also used to be difficult to purchase ... FPGA stands for Field-Programmable Gate Array. These devices were very popular among users that did not want to keep mining in the competitive landscape of GPU mining activities. Those devices have been designed in a way that users can configure their integrated circuits once the manufacturing process is completed. Some time later, bitcoin miners started to upgrade their operations to FPGA. In ...

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Bitcoin Mining Explained

The first wave of these specialty bitcoin mining devices were easy to use Bitcoin miners were based on field-programmable gate array (FPGA) processors and attached to computers using a convenient ... FPGA's: As with the CPU to GPU transition, the bitcoin mining world progressed up the technology food chain to the Field Programmable Gate Array. With the successful launch of the Butterfly Labs ... To understand why specialized Bitcoin mining ASICs are better at doing the job than CPUs, GPUs and FPGAs (field-programmable gate array), we’ll first need to understand how bitcoin mining works ... FPGAs or field programmable gate arrays were used for crypto mining back in 2011, 2012, and 2013 before ASICs were created to preform the same task. FPGAs are utilized as a test bed for Integrated ... After that, the system became dominated by multi-graphics card systems, then field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and finally application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), in the attempt to ...

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