Most Powerful Computer Network Is Being Wasted

The World’s Most Powerful Computer Network Is Being Wasted on Bitcoin article tells that Bitcoin mining machines are insane powerhouses, and they’re only getting crazier.

How much power is getting sunk into the digital cryptocurrency? More than the world’s top 500 supercomputers combined. The whole Bitcoin network hit a record-breaking high of 1 exaFLOPS this weekend. Bitcoins are fine and all, but can you imagine what we could do if this energy was put behind other tough problems? Think about it.

17 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Thoughts on Bitcoin
    http://blog.samaltman.com/thoughts-on-bitcoin

    Maybe bitcoin will be the world reserve currency, maybe it will totally fail, or maybe it will survive in some niche capacity. I don’t know how to weight the probabilities (although I think in the immediate term it’s likely to go down), but I do have a thought about the metric to watch: growth in legitimate transactions. A currency without the major use case being legitimate transactions is going to fail.

    Right now, the dominant use case of bitcoin seems to be speculation, with a secondary use case for illegal transactions.

    Legal transaction volume is still tiny, and many of those involve the seller immediately converting bitcoins to dollars, with the buyer not desiring to use bitcoin as a new currency but instead a version of either money laundering or tax avoidance.

    The fact that the few merchants willing to accept bitcoin generally convert to dollars right away suggests an underlying lack of faith in bitcoin—or at least a problem with the volatility. It’s also a reflection of the reality that a business still needs to deal in dollars with most of the world.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Toolbar enslaves PCs for Bitcoin mining
    What’s mined is not yours but theirs
    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2316375/toolbar-enslaves-pcs-for-bitcoin-mining

    A POPULAR web browser toolbar has been found to enslave its users’ PCs to mine Bitcoins.

    Web browser toolbars generally are a pain. Many of them promise the earth, but in reality all they do is redirect searches, mine users’ data and slow down computers. One, however, has been discovered taking its users’ computer resources to mine Bitcoins for its developers.

    According to security company Malwarebytes, the Myfreeproxy toolbar is designed to let users easily toggle a proxy server, allowing them to anonymise web browsing or watch foreign internet streaming broadcasts such as Hulu or Netflix US.

    However, buried in plain sight in the end user licence agreement (EULA) is a clause giving the program permission to install a Bitcoin miner on the user’s machine.

    Of course, technically, this isn’t a virus.

    The World Community Grid uses a similar technique to put your computer to work helping scientists find cures for diseases including cancer and HIV

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  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    World Community Grid
    http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/

    World Community Grid brings together people from across the globe to benefit humanity by creating the world’s largest non-profit computing grid. We do this by pooling surplus processing power from volunteers’ devices. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Potentially Unwanted Miners – Toolbar Peddlers Use Your System To Make BTC
    http://blog.malwarebytes.org/fraud-scam/2013/11/potentially-unwanted-miners-toolbar-peddlers-use-your-system-to-make-btc/

    Potentially Unwanted Programs or PUPs as we like to call them, are things like Toolbars, Search Agents, etc. Unnecessary junk for your desktop that usually involves monitoring your surfing/shopping habits and slowing down your system with their sub-par software that ends up hurting you much more than helping.

    A recent and unfortunate discovery by some of our users revealed that some of these programs do more than just cover your desktop in ads, they also steal your systems resources for mining purposes.

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  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Bitcoin has a dark side: its carbon footprint
    http://pando.com/2013/12/16/bitcoin-has-a-dark-side-its-carbon-footprint/

    Bitcoin may be making a few people wealthy, but it’s killing us all. The crypto-currency that’s caught the world by storm has a dark side: its carbon footprint.

    At today’s value of roughly $1,000 per bitcoin, the electricity consumed by the bitcoin mining ecosystem has an estimated carbon footprint – or total greenhouse gas emissions – of 8.25 megatonnes (8,250,000 tonnes) of CO2 per year, according to research by Bitcarbon.org. That’s 0.03 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas output, or equivalent to that of the nation of Cyprus. If bitcoin’s value reaches $100,000, that impact will reach 3 percent of the world’s total, or that of Germany. At $1 million – which seems farcical but which may not be out of the realm of possibility given the artificially limited bitcoin supply – this impact rises to 8.25 gigatonnes, or 30 percent of today’s global output, and equivalent to that of China and Japan combined.

    Bitcoins aren’t mined from the earth’s crust like most physical commodities – although at least that leaves tangible evidence of its environmental impact. Rather, they are “mined” by computers solving a set of complicated computational problems. These problems are designed to get more difficult over time, until the year 2140 when the 21 millionth (and final) bitcoin is mined.

    The top of the line model, which is currently made by a Swedish company called KnCMiner, costs around $13,000 and can mine at a rate 550 gigahashes per second: They’ve sold $28 million worth, and soon these too will be obsolete. The total computational power of the global bitcoin mining network today is more than seven million gigahashes, and climbing. That’s 256 times greater than the world’s top 500 supercomputers, combined.

    The exact carbon footprint of the bitcoin system is unknown. The above Bitcarbon figures are mere estimates based on several simplistic assumptions. First, the calculation assumes that miners will be willing to spend 90 percent of the value of a single bitcoin to mine it.

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  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/12/why-i-want-bitcoin-to-die-in-a.html

    Bitcoin just crashed 50% today, on news that the Chinese government has banned local exchanges from accepting deposits in Yuan. BtC was trading over $1000 yesterday; now it’s down to $500 and still falling.

    Good.

    I want Bitcoin to die in a fire: this is a start, but it’s not sufficient. Let me give you a round-up below the cut.

    Like all currency systems, Bitcoin comes with an implicit political agenda attached. Decisions we take about how to manage money, taxation, and the economy have consequences: by its consequences you may judge a finance system. Our current global system is pretty crap, but I submit that Bitcoin is worst.

    For starters, BtC is inherently deflationary. There is an upper limit on the number of bitcoins that can ever be created

    This means the the cost of generating new Bitcoins rises over time, so that the value of Bitcoins rise relative to the available goods and services in the market.

    Bitcoin is designed to be verifiable (forgery-resistant) but pretty much untraceable, and very easy to hide. Easier than a bunch of gold coins, anyway. And easier to ship to the opposite side of the planet at the push of a button.

    Libertarians love it because it pushes the same buttons as their gold fetish and it doesn’t look like a “Fiat currency”.

    But there are a number of huge down-sides. Here’s a link-farm to the high points:

    Mining BtC has a carbon footprint from hell

    Bitcoin mining software is now being distributed as malware

    Bitcoin violates Gresham’s law: Stolen electricity will drive out honest mining. (So the greatest benefits accrue to the most ruthless criminals.)

    Bitcoin’s utter lack of regulation permits really hideous markets to emerge

    It’s also inherently damaging to the fabric of civil society. You think our wonderful investment bankers aren’t paying their fair share of taxes? Bitcoin is pretty much designed for tax evasion.

    To editorialize briefly, BitCoin looks like it was designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking and money issuing banks, with a Libertarian political agenda in mind—to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions.

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  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Bitcoin me: How to make your own digital currency
    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/07/bitcoin-me-how-to-make-your-own-digital-currency

    Move over Dogecoin: the Herncoin is here. But what can making your own currency teach you about the world of bitcoin?

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    MANIC MINERS: Ten Bitcoin generating machines
    Crank out those coins: A selection of tools for the new Gold Rush
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/17/ten_bitcoin_miners/

    Bitcoins are either the new bubble economy or the future of online commerce. It’s not the first time anonymous e-money has been tried – ask Mondex – but Bitcoin does seem to have traction.

    There are things you might want that you can buy with it, such as Tesla cars and Virgin Galactic trips to space. Zynga has announced that it will take Bitcoin for in-game payments, and there is a host of things you can buy through Bit Premier.

    So, if you want to get into mining – perhaps you have some rack space doing nothing – you need to know what is on the market.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Bitcoin hash-rate exceeds total computing power of all the world’s computers!
    Posted on February 3, 2014 by Tarandeep Gill
    http://tarangill.com/2014/02/03/bitcoin-networks-computing-power/

    Bitcoin’s hash-rate (the total computing power of the network, defined as number of SHA-256 hashes it can compute per second) has most likely exceeded the total computing power of all the world’s personal computers.

    Reply
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    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Meet the manic miner who wants to mint 10% of all new bitcoins
    1.4 million chips and 5,000 Raspberry Pis power absurdly large mining operation.
    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/03/meet-the-manic-miner-who-wants-to-mint-10-of-all-new-bitcoins/

    In a couple of large buildings near the Columbia River in Eastern Washington, where hydroelectricity is cheap and plentiful, Dave Carlson oversees what he says is one of the largest Bitcoin mining operations on the planet.

    At any given time, Carlson’s goal is to account for seven to 10 percent of the entire world’s Bitcoin mining as measured by processing or hashing power, he said.

    Carlson’s company, MegaBigPower, does the biggest portion of its mining on behalf of its primary investor, the BioInfoBank Institute in Poland. Carlson takes a cut in bitcoins and rents capacity to other people who want to mine without running their own hardware and software.

    “We surface about half of our US mining power as something you can purchase as a leased hash product,” he said.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Interesting idea:

    Mining Bitcoins with Pencil and Paper
    http://hackaday.com/2014/09/29/mining-bitcoins-with-pencil-and-paper/

    Right now there are thousands of computers connected to the Internet, dutifully calculating SHA-256 hashes and sending their results to other peers on the Bitcoin network. There’s a tremendous amount of computing power in this network, but [Ken] is doing it with a pencil and paper. Doing the math by hand isn’t exactly hard, but it does take an extraordinary amount of time; [Ken] can calculate about two-thirds of a hash per day.

    The SHA-256 hash function used for Bitcoin isn’t really that hard to work out by hand.

    Completing one round of a SHA-256 hash took [Ken] sixteen minutes and forty-five seconds. There are sixty-four steps in calculating the hash, this means a single hash would take about 18 hours to complete. Since Bitcoin uses a double SHA-256 algorithm, doing the calculations on a complete bitcoin block and submitting them to the network manually would take the better part of two days. If you’re only doing this as your daily 9-5, this is an entire weeks worth of work.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cryptocurrency cruncher cranks prime number constellation
    Riecoin distributed miner claims world record for prime sextuplet generation
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/28/cryptocurrency_cruncher_cranks_prime_number_constellation/

    Bitcoin mining, our own Simon Rockman wrote last January, “is essentially a brute-force attack on the generating algorithm”.

    “Bitcoin, and all the other alt-coins, is training a skillset for building password-cracking hardware that is both powerful and portable,” he wrote.

    It looks like cryptocurrencies are also helping to spot some useful prime numbers, according to the folks behind Riecoin.

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cryptomining Demand Wanes as Q3 2017 Discrete Graphics Cards Shipments Hit 5-Year-High
    by Nate Oh on December 1, 2017 9:00 AM EST
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/12107/q3-2017-graphics-cards-shipments-hit-5-year-high

    This week, Jon Peddie Research (JPR) released their quarterly discrete video card sales report for Q3 2017. According to JPR’s figures, the quarter was a strong one for discrete desktop GPU shipments, with vendors shipping upwards of 15 million units, reaching volumes not seen in four or five years. This high point in card shipments was fueled by positive seasonality, desktop PC gaming, and the tail end of cryptocurrency mining demand, leading to add-in board (AIB) shipments increasing 29.1% over last quarter, more than double the 14% ten-year Q2-to-Q3 average increase. In terms of discrete desktop graphics market share, NVIDIA gained around 3% compared to JPR’s revised Q2 figures, putting the balance at 27.2% for AMD and 72.8% for NVIDIA.

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