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For example, the SHA-256 of the 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 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 starts with a certain number of zeros, then the cube is considered verified.

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For our example, lets say that we have a mining difficulty of just two, ie, our HASH should start with two zeros. .

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The problem: BUTTERFLY will always return the same HASH, and it doesnt begin with two zeros. Thus what we need is the next factor, a random number (known as a NONCE). We carry 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's absolutely no way to predict the number well need to address 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 your solution to the block. Here are some attempts:

This arduous procedure of randomly trying to find a number that gives the solution is the thing that makes bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive process, and as more miners join the network, the tougher it gets. At 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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This has led to the growth of ASIC computers built particularly for mining and to an increase in cloud mining.

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CPU mining. In the early days of bitcoin, mining issue was low and not a lot 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.

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GPU mining. A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a potent processor whose sole objective is to help your computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not built for executive decisions (like CPUs) however to be very good labourers, hence GPUs are able to execute over 800 times more instructions in precisely the exact same amount of time as a CPU.

FPGA mining. Next came mining using 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. Similar to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are chips designed for a specific 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 out there for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in electricity 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 these 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 capability to buy mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious being: no 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 access and validate or approve transactions.

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Desktop pockets. Software like Bitcoin Core lets you check this send and store bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network go to this site to monitor transactions.

Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are stored online by exchange platforms such as Coinbase or Circle and can be accessed from anywhere.

Mobile wallets. Programs like Blockchain shop and encrypt your bitcoin keys so that you can make payments using your mobile device.

Paper wallets. Some websites offer paper wallet services, generating a bit of paper using just two QR codes on it. One code is your public address at which you receive bitcoin and the other is the private address you can use for spending.

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