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Crypto Mining Hardware: What are the Differences?

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

There are many forms of crypto mining, below we will explore what hardware is used for each type of mining

In crypto there are many forms of mining. However, this article is only going to focus only on PoW mining.


But first, you may be asking what exactly is crypto mining?


What is Crypto Mining?


Coinbase summarizes crypto mining as "the process that Bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies use to generate new coins and verify new transactions." (Crypto basics - what is mining?). This is done by people providing computational power (or something else, as will be mentioned later). This computational power is used to "verify and secure blockchains – the virtual ledgers that document cryptocurrency transactions." (Crypto basics - what is mining?).

Now, crypto mining is not usually done out of the goodness of peoples' hearts. "In return for contributing their processing power, computers on the network are rewarded with new coins." (Crypto basics - what is mining?).


Proof-of-Work (PoW)


Proof-of-Work is one of the many ways to mine crypto. It is the most common way people mine crypto. However, PoW is not a catch-all, as there are three subcategories of PoW. These subcategories are CPU, GPU, and ASIC.


With CPU mining, CPU computational power is provided. Once upon a time, CPU mining was profitable, however it no longer is. This is because "as the blockchain has grown, the computational power required to maintain it has increased. (By a lot: In October 2019, it required 12 trillion times more computing power to mine one bitcoin than it did when the first first blocks were mined in January 2009.)" (Crypto basics - what is mining?). However, in some cases CPU mining is still profitable. It is generally still profitable to CPU mine with server grade CPUs made in the last 10 years. This is because server grade CPUs generally have more cores and threads per core. These additional parts allow the CPU to mine more crypto than the CPU in your home computer.


With GPU mining, GPU computational power is provided. Earlier this year (2022) GPU mining was generally profitable, but after the Ethereum merge in September GPU mining ceased to be profitable. It may be profitable again in the future, but it is not as of the writing of this article. Now, just like with CPU mining, there are a few GPUs that are still profitable. But these are far more few than the CPUs that are profitable. Now, you may be wondering what affects the GPU’s profitability. There are several things that depend on the algorithm that is used, but generally the following affect the profitability of GPUs: RAM amount and version, CUDA cores, and power consumption. RAM determines how many computations can be provided at a single time for a lack of better words. The more RAM, the more computations (This is especially true for ETCHash and ETHash algorithms). Now, with CUDA cores, again the more CUDA cores the more calculations. This is because CUDA cores “are the Nvidia GPU equivalent of CPU cores that have been designed to take on multiple calculations at the same time” (Ryles). Finally, with power consumption, the less power the GPU consumes, the more profitable it is. This is self-explanatory


The final PoW type we will be looking at are ASIC miners. Now, what is an ASIC? An ASIC is “Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)” (Kim). These are miners that “are computers designed for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies that are created through proof of work.” (Kim). This means unlike CPUs and GPUS, ASICs cant be used for other things like gaming, doing computer tasks, etc. “ASIC miners are designed for one hashing algorithm, which affects which cryptocurrencies you can mine.” (Kim). ASIC miners mine far more crypto than CPU and GPU miners combined, however they also use much more power. Now, like with CPU and GPU miners certain things will affect profitability. These things are: power consumption, and the number of hash boards. The more hash boards, the more calculations can be done at the same time,. Finally, with power consumption, the less power the GPU consumes, the more profitable it is. This is again, self-explanatory


Citations


“Crypto Basics - What Is Mining?” Coinbase, Coinbase, https://www.coinbase.com/learn/crypto-basics/what-is-mining.



Kim, Paul. “ASIC Mining: Computers Built Specifically for Mining Cryptocurrency.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 16 Mar. 2022, https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/asic-mining.



Ryles, Gemma. “What Are Cuda Cores?” Trusted Reviews, 19 Apr. 2022, https://www.trustedreviews.com/explainer/what-are-cuda-cores-4226433.



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