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For example, the SHA-256 of this term BUTTERFLY (source) is 8c62ace4f9ef8ccd08ca6fb992a8524bb7dbdc0530654bd254c9da07a660949a (HASH). This seemingly random string of letters and numbers contains three important properties:
Bitcoin mining involves three variables: 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 fact, the block could contain a list 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 consequence of the block starts 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 problem of just two, ie, our HASH should start with two zeros. .
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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will always return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. Thus what we need is your third factor, 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 since changing one little number changes the whole HASH result, there is no method to predict the number well need to address this! .
We repeat this process over and over until we find a number that, when combined with BUTTERFLY, provides us a HASH that begins 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 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 a part of a cloud mining network, would 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 blocks 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 using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These greatly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining process as FPGAs are chips which can be programmed to perform specific instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, like GPUs were).
ASIC mining. Similar to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are chips 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're the best processors available for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in power consumption. .
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Mining pools. To offset 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 payoff is shared with everyone in the pool in a ratio representative of how much work you put into the swimming pool (even though you personally never solved the mystery ). .
Cloud mining. Clouds offer 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 extra heat and nothing to market when you opt to hang your virtual pickaxe.
Once miners receive bitcoin, they are given a digital key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this digital key to access and validate or approve transactions.
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Desktop wallets. Software such as Bitcoin Core allows you to send and store bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network to track transactions.
Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are stored 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 you can make payments using your mobile device.
Paper wallets. Some websites offer paper wallet services, generating a piece of paper with two QR codes on it. One code is the public address at which you receive bitcoin and the other is the personal address you can use for spending.