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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 has three important properties:
Bitcoin mining involves three factors: the cube, the mining issue and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:
Imagine our block consists of the word BUTTERFLY discussed previously. In fact, the block could contain a listing of recent, unverified transactions, but lets keep it simple. In order for the block to be solved, bitcoin uses a deceptively simple test: If the HASH consequence of the block begins with a certain number of zeros, then the block is considered verified.
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For instance, lets say that we have a mining difficulty of just two, ie, our HASH must begin with two zeros. .
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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt begin with two zeros. Thus what we need is your 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 small number changes the whole HASH result, there is no method to forecast the number well need to solve 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 the solution to the block. Here are some tries:
This arduous procedure of randomly trying to find a number that supplies 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 require 2.7 million years to mine one block. .
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CPU mining. In the first days of bitcoin, mining issue was reduced and not a great deal of miners were competing for cubes and rewards. This made it worthwhile to use your computers 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 processors 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 particular function, 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 offset the difficulty of mining a block, miners started organising in cloud or pools mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those pools solves a block, the reward is shared with everyone in the swimming pool my company in a ratio representative of just how much work you put into the pool (even though you personally never solved the puzzle). .
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 energy 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 digital 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 such as Bitcoin Core lets you send and store bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network to monitor transactions.
Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are saved online by exchange platforms like Coinbase or Circle and can be retrieved from anywhere.
Mobile wallets. Programs like Blockchain shop and encrypt your own bitcoin keys so that you can make payments using your mobile device.
Paper wallets. Some websites provide paper wallet services, generating a bit of paper with two QR codes on it. One code is your public address where you receive bitcoin and the other one is the private address you can use for spending.