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For example, the SHA-256 of the word 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 difficulty and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:
Imagine our block consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed previously. In reality, the cube could contain a listing of recent, unverified transactions, but lets keep it simple. In order for the block to be solved, bitcoin utilizes a simple test: If the HASH result of the block starts with a certain number of zeros, the cube is considered verified.
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For instance, lets say that we have a mining difficulty of simply two, ie, our HASH must begin with two zeros. .
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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will always return the same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. Thus what we need is the third factor, 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 since changing one little number changes the entire HASH result, there is no method to predict the number well need to address this! .
We repeat this procedure over and over until we find a number that, when combined with BUTTERFLY, gives us a HASH that starts with two zeros. That number is your solution to the block. Here are some tries:
This arduous procedure of randomly trying to find a number that gives the solution is what creates bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive process, and as more miners join the network, the tougher it gets. 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 take 2.7 million years to mine one block. .
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CPU mining. In the first days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was reduced and not a lot of miners were competing for blocks and rewards. This made it rewarding to utilize find out here your computers sites own central processing unit (CPU) to mine bitcoin. However, that approach was soon replaced by GPU mining.
FPGA mining. Next came mining with field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These significantly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining process as FPGAs are chips that can be programmed to 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 function, in our case mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were introduced in 2013 and, as of November 2017, they are the best processors out there for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in power consumption. .
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Mining pools. To cancel the problem of mining a block, miners started organising in pools or cloud mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of these pools solves a block, the reward is shared with everyone in the swimming pool in a ratio representative of just how much work you put into the swimming pool (even though you personally never solved the mystery ). .
Cloud mining. Clouds offer potential miners the ability to buy mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno electricity costs, no extra heat and nothing to sell when you decide to hang up your 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 wallets. Software such as Bitcoin Core lets you send and save bitcoin addresses 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 accessed from anywhere.
Mobile wallets. Apps like Blockchain shop and encrypt your own bitcoin keys so you can make payments using your cellular device.
Paper wallets. Some sites offer paper wallet solutions, generating a bit of paper using two QR codes on it. One code is the public address at which you receive bitcoin and the other one is your personal address you can use for spending.