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For example, the SHA-256 of this term BUTTERFLY (origin ) is 8c62ace4f9ef8ccd08ca6fb992a8524bb7dbdc0530654bd254c9da07a660949a (HASH). This seemingly random string of letters and numbers has 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 word BUTTERFLY discussed previously. 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 uses a simple test: If the HASH result of the block starts with a certain number of zeros, the block is considered verified.
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For our example, lets say that we've a mining problem of just two, ie, our HASH should start with two zeros. .
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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. Thus what we need is the third factor, a random number (known as a NONCE). We take this number, combine it with BUTTERFLY, and HASH again. If it doesnt begin with two zeros, we change the number and try again, and because changing one small number changes the entire HASH outcome, there is 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 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 gives the solution is what creates bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive process, 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, could take 2.7 million years into 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 worthwhile to utilize 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 greatly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining process as FPGAs are processors which can be programmed to perform certain instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, such as GPUs were).
ASIC mining. Comparable to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are processors designed for a particular purpose, 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 power consumption. .
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Mining pools. To cancel the difficulty of mining a block, miners started organising in pools or cloud mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those pools solves a block, the reward is shared with everyone in the 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 prospective miners the ability to buy mining channels in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno electricity costs, no excess heat and nothing to sell when you opt to hang your virtual pickaxe.
Once miners receive bitcoin, they are given a virtual key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this electronic key to gain access and confirm or approve transactions.
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Desktop pockets. Software such as Bitcoin Core lets you send and store bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network to track transactions.
Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are stored online by exchange programs like Coinbase or Circle and can be retrieved from anywhere.
Mobile wallets. Programs like Blockchain store and encrypt your own bitcoin keys so you can make payments using your mobile device.
Paper wallets. Some sites provide paper wallet solutions, generating a piece of paper with two QR codes on it. One code is the public address at which you get bitcoin and the other is your private address you can use for spending.