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

Bitcoin mining involves three factors: the cube, the mining difficulty and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:

Imagine our cube consists of the word BUTTERFLY discussed earlier. In reality, the block would contain a listing of recent, unverified transactions, but lets keep it simple. In order for the block to be solved, bitcoin uses a simple test: If the HASH consequence of the block begins with a certain number of zeros, then the cube is considered confirmed.

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For instance, lets say that we have a mining problem of just two, ie, our HASH should begin with two zeros. .

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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will always return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt begin with two zeros. Thus what we need is your next variable, a random number (called a NONCE). We carry this number, combine it with BUTTERFLY, and HASH again. If it doesnt begin with two zeros, we change the number and try again, and since changing one small number changes the entire HASH outcome, there is no way to predict the number well need to solve this! .

We repeat this process over and over until we find a number that, when combined with BUTTERFLY, provides us a HASH that starts with two zeros. That number is your solution to the block. Here are some tries:

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

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

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CPU mining. In the early days of bitcoin, mining issue was low and not a lot of miners were competing for cubes and rewards. This made it rewarding to use your computers own central processing unit (CPU) to mine bitcoin. However, that approach was soon replaced by GPU mining.

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GPU mining. An graphics processing unit (GPU) is a powerful processor whose sole purpose is to help your own computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not constructed for executive decisions (like CPUs) but to be very good labourers, hence GPUs are able to execute over 800 times more instructions in precisely the exact same amount of time as a CPU.

FPGA mining. Next came mining with field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These significantly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining process as FPGAs are chips which can be programmed to execute certain instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, like GPUs were).

ASIC mining. Comparable to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are chips designed for a specific purpose, in our case mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were introduced in 2013 and, as of November 2017, they're the best processors available for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in electricity consumption. .

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Mining pools. To cancel the problem of mining a block, miners started organising in cloud or pools mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those pools solves a block, the reward is shared with everyone in the swimming pool in a ratio representative of just how much work you put into the swimming pool (even though you personally never solved the puzzle). .

Cloud mining. Clouds provide prospective miners the ability to purchase mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious being: no energy expenses, no excess heat and nothing to sell when you decide to hang up your browse around this site virtual pickaxe.

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

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Desktop pockets. Software such as Bitcoin Core lets you send and save bitcoin addresses and connects to the useful content network to monitor transactions.

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

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

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

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