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Chi-chi-chi-chia: green mining?

By Spitkitten | cryptokitten | 14 May 2021


If you watch North American TV, now I've got the commercial in your head.
For the rest of you...enjoy!

(this is a common-but-weird tchotchke pushed hard on holidays as office or teacher gifts -- a terracotta bust of...something in pop culture, with a packet of chia seeds to grow...hair)

But this is not the chia I'm looking for, though it's oddly close. I'm looking at Chia (XCH), a financial transaction network put together by the dude who brought us all free movies. Yay, BitTorrent!

I'm interested, and maybe you are too, because coin mining is ridic. It's dominated by single-use hardware server farms, built out in unloved country, because who TF at this point has the energy hogging power or stomach to do it otherwise? Chia's claim is that its mining is green. Can be done by anyone. Anywhere. Guilt free.

"The blockchain is powered by the first new Nakamoto style consensus algorithm since Bitcoin launched in 2008. Proofs of Space and Time replace energy intensive “proofs of work” by utilizing unused disk space." (https://www.chia.net/about/)

Cool, cool. WTF does that mean?

"Proof of Space is a cryptographic technique where provers show that they allocate unused hard drive space for storage space. In order to be used as a consensus method, Proof of Space must be tied to Proof of Time. PoT ensures that block times have consistency in the time between them and increases the overall security of the blockchain." (https://www.chia.net/faq/#faq-3)

As a user of the Chia blockchain, or "farmer," (yep) you install some software which inserts (or "seeds," LOL) some crypto algorithm on a hard drive, which communicates with the blockchain, proving your proof of space (PoS) with these seeded "plots." These plots get scanned to find the closest hash, when there's a challenge for the next block, and any farmer's probability of "winning" the block is, of course, tied to how big their plots are.

OK.

Now, PoT is a lot more mystical to me, but I like it because it involves a "Timelord." I never don't want to be a timelord.

"Proof of time requires a small period of time to pass between blocks. Proof of time is implemented by a Verifiable Delay Function that takes a certain amount of time to compute, but is very fast to verify. The key idea of a VDF is that they require sequential computation, and since having many parallel machines does not yield any benefit, electricity waste is minimized. There will likely be relatively few VDF servers (“Timelords”), as the fastest one will always finish first and it takes only one fast and fair Timelord on the network to complete a block and move the chain forward." (https://www.chia.net/faq/#faq-3)

Is it worth it? They think so.

"Our software allows you to allocate a certain amount of unused disk space to create plots. Since the only resource intensive step is the initial plotting, once you download the Chia node software, your drives will be plotted in the background. Once plotting is complete, your computer will begin farming on your behalf and the software does all the work and tracks your rewards for you. Ongoing farming uses very little network bandwidth and almost no resources other than storage." (https://www.chia.net/faq/#faq-11)

It sure sounds appealing. But, IRL, though, it seems (again), it depends on how much of your hard drive space you are willing to give over. Mom and pop farmers will make something, but will, of course, get edged out -- unless they have a bit of luck with their plots and a hash -- by big farms.

There's also scuttlebutt that farming is so write-intensive that it could blow your SSDs quickly.

In the end, I'm not going to bother mining, at least not right now -- and, if I've learned anything in the crypto world, it's if you aren't ready now, you've already missed it. I might buy some, though. I am a cuddly mama earth type.

If you have a few drives to blow, and are interested in mining, however, check out this handy calculator that estimates how much you *could* earn, based on plots and space. Let me know how it goes. You can install the software at Github.

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Spitkitten
Spitkitten

Nerd, bon vivant, sci fi writer. Dynamite with a laser beam.


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