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For example, 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 cube, the mining issue and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:

Imagine our block consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed previously. In reality, the cube 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 result of the block begins with a certain number of zeros, then the block is considered confirmed.

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For our example, lets say that we have a mining difficulty of just two, ie, our HASH should 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 the next factor, 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 little number changes the entire 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 the 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 normal home computer working alone, ie, not an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and not a part of a cloud mining network, would take 2.7 million years into mine one block. .

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This has caused the growth of ASIC computers built specifically for mining and also to an increase in cloud mining.

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

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GPU mining. A graphics processing unit (GPU) is a powerful processor whose sole purpose is to assist your computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not built for executive decisions (such as CPUs) but to be very great labourers, hence GPUs can execute over 800 times more instructions in the exact same amount of time as a CPU.

FPGA mining. Next came mining using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These significantly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining procedure 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 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 those pools simplifies a cube, 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 puzzle). .

Cloud mining. Clouds offer potential miners the ability to purchase mining channels in a remote data centre additional info location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno electricity expenses, no extra heat and nothing to sell when you opt to hang up your virtual pickaxe.

Once miners receive bitcoin, they are given a virtual key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this digital key to gain access and confirm or approve transactions.

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Desktop wallets. Software such as Bitcoin Core lets you send and save bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network to monitor transactions.

Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are saved online by exchange platforms like Coinbase or Circle and can be accessed from anywhere.

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

Paper wallets. Some sites provide paper wallet services, generating a bit of paper with two QR codes on it. One code is your public address at which you get bitcoin and the other one is your private address you can use for spending.

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