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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 block, the mining issue and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:
Imagine our cube consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed earlier. In reality, the block could contain a listing of recent, unverified transactions, but lets keep it simple. In order for the block to be solved, bitcoin utilizes 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've a mining difficulty of simply two, ie, our HASH should start with two zeros. .
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The problem: BUTTERFLY will always return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt begin with two zeros. Thus what we need is your third variable, a random number (called a NONCE). We carry 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 small number changes the whole HASH result, 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, gives us a HASH that starts with two zeros. That number is your solution to the block. Here are some attempts:
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 procedure, and as more miners join the network, the harder 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, would require 2.7 million years into mine one block. .
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CPU mining. In the first days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was low 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 strategy was soon replaced by GPU mining.
FPGA mining. Next came mining with field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These greatly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining procedure as FPGAs are processors that can be programmed to execute specific instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, like GPUs were).
ASIC mining. Comparable to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are processors designed for a particular function, in our situation 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 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 payoff is shared with everyone in the swimming pool in a ratio representative of how much work you put into the swimming pool (even though you personally never solved the puzzle). .
Cloud mining. Clouds offer potential miners the capability to purchase mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno energy costs, no extra heat and nothing to sell when you decide to hang up your digital pickaxe.
Once miners get bitcoin, they are given a virtual key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this digital key to access and confirm or approve transactions.
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Desktop wallets. Software such as Bitcoin Core allows you to send and save bitcoin addresses and connects to the network to track transactions.
Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are stored online by exchange platforms such as Coinbase or Circle and can be accessed from anywhere.
Mobile wallets. Apps 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 solutions, generating a bit of paper with two QR codes on it. One code is the public address where you get bitcoin and the other is your private address you can use for spending.