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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 variables: 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 fact, the block would contain a list of recent, unverified transactions, but lets keep it simple. In order for the block to be solved, bitcoin utilizes a 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 our example, lets say that we have a mining problem of just two, ie, our HASH must start with two zeros. .

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The problem: BUTTERFLY will always return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. Thus what we need is your 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 whole HASH outcome, there's absolutely no way 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 your solution to the block. Here are some tries:

This arduous process of randomly trying to find a number that supplies the solution is what creates bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive procedure, and as more miners join the network, the tougher it gets. As of 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, could require 2.7 million years to mine one block. .

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

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CPU mining. In the first days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was low 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.

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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 he has a good point built for executive decisions (such as CPUs) however 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 greatly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining process as FPGAs are processors which can be programmed to execute specific instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, like GPUs were).

ASIC mining. Comparable 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're click resources the best processors out there for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in power 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 reward is shared with everyone in the swimming pool in a ratio representative of how much work you put into the swimming pool (even though you personally never solved the mystery ). .

Cloud mining. Clouds provide potential miners the ability to purchase mining rigs in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious being: no energy costs, no extra heat and nothing to sell when you opt to hang your digital pickaxe.

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

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Desktop pockets. Software such as Bitcoin Core lets you send and save bitcoin addresses and connects to the network to track transactions.

Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are why not look here stored online by exchange platforms such as Coinbase or Circle and can be accessed from anywhere.

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

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

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