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For example, the SHA-256 of the term BUTTERFLY (origin ) 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 previously. In fact, the cube could contain a list 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, then the cube is considered verified.

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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 same HASH, and it doesnt begin with two zeros. So what we need is your next variable, 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 small number changes the whole HASH outcome, there's absolutely no method to predict the number well need to solve this! .

We repeat this procedure 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 process of randomly trying to find a number that supplies the solution is what 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 to mine one block. .

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This has caused the rise 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 issue was reduced 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 strategy 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 constructed for executive decisions (such as CPUs) but to be somewhat 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 Our site using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These greatly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining procedure as FPGAs are processors which can be programmed to perform 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 processors 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 available 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 cloud or pools mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of these 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 pool (even though you personally never solved the mystery ). .

Cloud mining. Clouds provide 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 expenses, 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 digital key to access and confirm or approve transactions.

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

Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are saved online by exchange programs such as Coinbase or Circle and can be retrieved from anywhere.

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

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

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