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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 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 cube consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed previously. 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 result of the block starts with a certain number of zeros, the cube 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 begin with two zeros. So 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 start with two zeros, we change the number and try again, and because changing one little number changes the whole HASH result, there is no way to forecast the number well need to solve 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 gives the solution is the thing that creates bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive procedure, and as more miners join the network, the harder it gets. At November 2017, a normal home computer working alone, ie, not an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and not part of a cloud mining network, would take 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 lot of miners were competing for blocks and rewards. This made it rewarding 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 process as FPGAs are chips that can be programmed to execute specific instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, such as GPUs were).
ASIC mining. Similar to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are chips designed for a particular purpose, in our case 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 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 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 puzzle). .
Cloud mining. Clouds provide potential miners the capability to purchase mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno energy costs, no excess 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 gain access and confirm or approve transactions.
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Desktop wallets. Software such as Bitcoin Core allows you to send and save bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network to track 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 bitcoin keys so you can make payments using my company your cellular 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 where you receive bitcoin and the other one is the private address you image source can use for spending.