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

Bitcoin mining involves three variables: the block, the mining issue and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:

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

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

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The problem: BUTTERFLY will always return the same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. So what we need is your next variable, a random number (called a NONCE). We take this number, combine it with BUTTERFLY, and HASH again. If it doesnt start with two zeros, we change the number and try again, and because changing one little number changes the entire HASH result, there's absolutely no way to forecast the number well need to address this! .

We repeat this procedure 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 the solution to the block. Here are some tries:

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

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

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

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

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

ASIC mining. Similar to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are processors designed for a specific function, in our case mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were introduced in 2013 and, as of November 2017, they're the have a peek here best processors out there for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in electricity consumption. .

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

Cloud mining. Clouds provide potential miners the capability to buy mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious being: no electricity expenses, no extra heat and nothing to market when you decide to hang up your virtual pickaxe.

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

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Desktop wallets. Software like Bitcoin Core allows you to send and store bitcoin addresses discover this and also connects to the network to track transactions.

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

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

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

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