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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 factors: the cube, the mining difficulty and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:

Imagine our cube consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed earlier. 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, the cube is considered confirmed.

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For our example, lets say that we've a mining difficulty of simply two, ie, our HASH must begin with two zeros. .

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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will return the same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. Thus what we need is the next variable, a random number (called a NONCE). We carry 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 small number changes the entire HASH outcome, there's absolutely no way to forecast 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 starts 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 what makes bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive process, 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 into mine one block. .

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

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CPU mining. In the first days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was reduced and not a great deal 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.

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GPU mining. An 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) but to be very great labourers, hence GPUs can execute over 800 times more instructions in precisely the same amount of time as a CPU.

FPGA mining. Next came mining using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These significantly outperformed pop over here 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. Similar to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are processors designed for a specific function, in our case 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 electricity consumption. .

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Mining pools. To offset the difficulty of mining a block, miners started organising in cloud or pools mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those pools simplifies a cube, 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 provide prospective miners the ability to purchase 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 market when you decide 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 access and confirm or approve transactions.

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Desktop pockets. Software like 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 like 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 your cellular device.

Paper wallets. Some websites provide paper wallet services, generating a bit of paper using look at here now just two QR codes on it. One code is your public address where you receive bitcoin and the other one is your personal address you can use for spending.

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