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For instance, the SHA-256 of this term BUTTERFLY (source) is 8c62ace4f9ef8ccd08ca6fb992a8524bb7dbdc0530654bd254c9da07a660949a (HASH). This seemingly random string of letters and numbers has three important properties:
Bitcoin mining involves three variables: 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 would 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 result of the block begins with a certain number of zeros, then the block is considered confirmed.
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For instance, lets say that we've 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 next variable, a random number (called 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 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 gives the solution is what makes 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 low 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 significantly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining procedure as FPGAs are chips which can be programmed to perform 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 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 site available 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 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 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 offer prospective miners the ability to purchase mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno electricity expenses, no extra heat and nothing to market when you opt to hang your virtual pickaxe.
Once miners get bitcoin, they are given a virtual key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this digital key to gain 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 connects to the network to monitor transactions.
Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are stored online by exchange programs such as Coinbase or Circle and can be retrieved from anywhere.
Mobile wallets. Apps like Blockchain shop and encrypt your own bitcoin keys so you can make payments using your mobile device.
Paper wallets. Some websites provide paper wallet solutions, generating a bit of paper with just two QR codes on it. One code is your public address where you receive bitcoin and the other one is the personal address you can use for spending.