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Available Mining Rigs
Crypto mining rigs are available in a variety of configurations (including CPU, GPU, ASIC, FPGA, and cloud mining), each of which provides a different level of hashing power and mining payouts.
Note that these are recommendations based on current coin prices and used equipment pricing and availability.
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Cryptocurrency Mining Rigs Come in a Variety of Forms, Shapes, and Sizes
Cryptocurrency mining is the practice of utilizing computer hardware to power the computational activities of a blockchain network. Cryptocurrency mining is a technique for assisting in the defense of a blockchain network from assaults, as well as financially incentivizing the network’s miners to aid in the defense. Solve a block’s mining challenge and you can earn the block reward — often in the network’s own coin. The terms “crypto miner,” “mining rig,” “bitcoin miner,” and “mining hardware” refer to the circuits, processors, and computer hardware used to mine cryptocurrency. While certain crypto mining rigs are purpose-built for cryptocurrency mining, general-purpose mining rigs (much like your own computer) may also be used to mine bitcoins.
Cryptocurrency miners are employed on all blockchains that employ Proof of Work (PoW), a consensus technique for securely processing, verifying, and confirming transactions while preventing double spending and other blockchain assaults. Although Bitcoin is the most well-known proof-of-work blockchain, other established networks such as Ethereum 1.0 also fall under this category. We’ll examine the many possibilities for mining cryptocurrency in this post, ranging from general-purpose circuits to specialized mining hardware. If you want to brush up on your crypto mining fundamentals before diving into hardware, check out our Bitcoin: Network Security article.
While mining rigs have a variety of technical specifications, crypto miners are mostly concerned with two factors: hash rate and energy consumption. The hash rate is expressed in hashes per second (h/s), and it is proportional to the probability of successfully solving the cryptographic problem required to obtain the block or mining reward. Additionally, miners consider how much electricity a mining rig consumes, both in terms of total energy consumption and efficiency in terms of hashes per kilowatt-hour. Without sufficient hashing power and energy efficiency, mining will be unprofitable, and may even cost more in electricity bills than the mining profits received. While some miners do so to promote the security of a network and the broader aim of decentralized networks, the majority of crypto miners do it to earn money.
Mining on GPUs Takes Over
With the growth of interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency, the number of miners has increased — and with it, the rivalry for mining rewards. As a result of this cycle, the majority of miners of most large-cap cryptocurrencies have shifted away from CPUs and onto graphics processing units (GPUs), which are more efficient at mining and have a significantly higher hash rate than CPUs. The first GPU mining program was published in 2010.
While CPU hash rates are expressed in kilohashes per second (kh/s), GPU hash rates are expressed in megahashes per second (mh/s), with one megahash equivalent to 1,000 kilohashes (a million hashes). While performance varies depending on the GPU’s age and price, many current GPUs exceed 10 mh/s, with some of the finest GPUs nearing 60 mh/s (as of 2021). To put this into perspective, a 40 mh/s GPU miner has 2,000 times the hash rate of a 20 kh/s CPU miner. GPU miners reach these results by processing many more operations concurrently than a CPU. Additionally, many miners design mining rigs with six to twelve GPUs, which significantly increases their hashing power. Some cryptocurrency miners run numerous multi-GPU mining rigs concurrently, with some home-based operations reaching up to 24-48 GPU rigs.
Apart from being significantly quicker and more efficient than CPUs, GPUs provide some versatility in that they can mine a number of coins on a variety of different blockchains using a variety of different mining algorithms. Numerous currencies are popular for GPU mining, with ether (ETH) ranking as the most popular as of 2021. However, with Ethereum’s transition to Proof of Stake (PoS), these miners may have to hunt for profitable GPU mining incentives elsewhere. While GPU mining swiftly overtook CPU mining, its mining hegemony was likewise quite brief. By 2015, Bitcoin mining was controlled by a new type of technology – ASIC miners.
ASIC Miners Seize Control of Bitcoin (BTC)
ASIC miners, abbreviated for application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), are built to perform only one thing: mine bitcoin. In 2012, the first ASIC miner was produced, and it was around 200 times more powerful than regular GPU miners at the time. While GPU computing performance is often expressed in megahertz per second (mh/s), ASIC mining performance is typically expressed in terahashes per second (th/s), with one terahash equivalent to 1,000 megahertz (a trillion hashes). By 2021, the greatest ASIC miners will be able to compute 90-100 th/s, greatly exceeding the fastest GPU miners. However, there are several drawbacks to ASIC miners that have kept them from completely dominating the crypto mining industry. ASIC miners are costly, often costing between $2,000 and $15,000 USD. This is a big expense, and attempting to achieve a break-even point takes time — and even reaching that point is not assured. Buying ASIC miners may be extremely profitable — or extremely costly — depending on the scale, energy costs, and network issues. Indeed, to be competitive, a huge number of ASIC mining operations must be carried out at scale – with warehouses stocked with hundreds or thousands of ASICs. Additionally, the volatility of the cryptocurrency market might impair the profitability of crypto mining, as the prices of the mined currencies can change significantly, hurting the profitability models of expensive ASIC rigs and warehouses.
Additionally, the majority of ASIC miners are customized to mine only a subset of cryptocurrencies or to mine only particular algorithms utilized by a subset of cryptocurrencies. For instance, an ASIC miner specialized for bitcoin mining is tuned for the SHA-256 algorithm used by the cryptocurrency. Thus, while a SHA-256 miner can potentially be used to mine coins using other algorithms, it is often more cost-effective to use it to mine a cryptocurrency that uses the SHA-256 algorithm, such as BTC or bitcoin cash (BCH). This sort of specialisation contributes to the continued dominance of GPU mining in various blockchain systems.
Additionally, certain projects, like as Monero and Ravencoin, are constructed in such a way that they are immune to ASICs (meaning that using any ASIC device is generally not cost-effective). Such structural considerations are motivated in part by a desire to democratize the network’s playing field.
However, manufacturers of ASIC miners have developed ASIC miners for Litecoin (LTC) and other blockchains that employ the same Scrypt algorithm as LTC. At least one ASIC miner designed for Ethereum’s ethash mining algorithm is now available, with further ethash ASIC miners expected for delivery in 2021 from other manufacturers.