An application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) is a type of circuit that has been designed for a single specific purpose. An ASIC miner refers to a device that uses microprocessors for the sole purpose of "mining" digital currency. Generally, each ASIC miner is constructed to mine a specific digital currency. So, a bitcoin ASIC miner can mine only bitcoin. One way to think about bitcoin ASICs is as specialized bitcoin mining computers, or "bitcoin generators," that are optimized to solve the mining algorithm.
Developing and manufacturing ASICs as mining devices is costly and complex. Because ASICs are built especially for mining cryptocurrency, they do the job faster than less powerful computers. ASIC chips for cryptocurrency mining have become increasingly efficient, with the latest generation operating at around just 29.5 Joules per Terahash.
Understanding Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) Miners
Instead of being general-purpose integrated circuits—like RAM chips or PC or mobile device microprocessors—ASICs employed in cryptocurrency mining are specific integrated circuits designed solely to maintain the bitcoin blockchain—a public shared database that stores digital information.
Originally, bitcoin's creator intended for bitcoin to be mined on central processing units (CPUs)—your laptop or desktop computer. However, bitcoin ASICs surpassed both CPUs and graphics processing units (GPUs) in terms of their reduced electricity consumption and greater computing capacity. After first gaining traction in mid-2013 when other hardware mining devices started hitting their bottlenecks in mining, Bitcoin ASIC miners have retained their lead.
Bitmain Confirms Halting Its Shipment of Antminers to Chinese Customers
Bitmain, one of the world's largest manufacturers of bitcoin mining machines, confirmed it will halt shipping Antminers to mainland China.
"From October 11, 2021, Antminer will stop shipping to mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan)," according to a statement from Bitmain's official WeChat account. The move doesn't affect Bitmain's overseas customers and the company said that it has increased the supply of Antbox to speed up the construction of overseas mines.
On Sept. 28 CoinDesk cited three sources who said that Bitmain was planning to suspend sales of its machines to miners in mainland China, after the sweeping ban on crypto activity imposed by the country's government.
China's crackdown on the crypto industry has created an opportunity for the miners outside of the region to participate in the sector, resulting in a recovery in bitcoin network's hashrate, or computing power, which is a key gauge of mining activity.
What's inside a WhatsMiner? Disassembling a Bitcoin ASIC
In early December of last year, mining machine manufacturer MicroBT announced the parameters of the WhatsMiner M30 series, indicating that the power consumption ratio of the entire series of bitcoin mining rigs would be lower than 50W/T, which caused concern among cryptocurrency mining practitioners. In mid-May this year, Bitcoin will usher in the third halving of its block subsidy in history, also regarded as a critical period for the computing power of the entire Bitcoin network. Miners are also updating their equipment for the arrival of the halving.
In the current epidemic situation, miners and people in the entire cryptocurrency industry are in a difficult winter period. At this difficult time, MicroBT hopes to spend the time with users and stick to their beliefs. At 10:30 p.m. EDT on April 16, 2020 MicroBT will hold the Global WhatsMiner M30 Launch Event to explain in detail the full lineup of the M30 series products and sales strategies.
In the current epidemic situation, the online event can break the shackles of physical space by going digital and delivering the latest news of the M30 launch efficiently. Since MicroBT announced the news of the new product launch of the WhatsMiner M30 series, it has aroused concern among peers in the mining and blockchain industries. Therefore, MicroBT has also been sharing the latest news through its twitter and telegram group.
What Is Bitcoin Mining?
Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are entered into circulation; it is also the way that new transactions are confirmed by the network and a critical component of the maintenance and development of the blockchain ledger. "Mining" is performed using sophisticated hardware that solves an extremely complex computational math problem. The first computer to find the solution to the problem is awarded the next block of bitcoins and the process begins again.
Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, costly, and only sporadically rewarding. Nonetheless, mining has a magnetic appeal for many investors interested in cryptocurrency because of the fact that miners are rewarded for their work with crypto tokens. This may be because entrepreneurial types see mining as pennies from heaven, like California gold prospectors in 1849. And if you are technologically inclined, why not do it?
However, before you invest the time and equipment, read this explainer to see whether mining is really for you. We will focus primarily on Bitcoin (throughout, we'll use "Bitcoin" when referring to the network or the cryptocurrency as a concept, and "bitcoin" when we're referring to a quantity of individual tokens).
A New Gold Rush
The primary draw for many mining is the prospect of being rewarded with Bitcoin. That said, you certainly don't have to be a miner to own cryptocurrency tokens. You can also buy cryptocurrencies using fiat currency; you can trade it on an exchange like Bitstamp using another crypto (as an example, using Ethereum or NEO to buy Bitcoin); you even can earn it by shopping, publishing blog posts on platforms that pay users in cryptocurrency, or even set up interest-earning crypto accounts.
An example of a crypto blog platform is Steemit, which is kind of like Medium except that users can reward bloggers by paying them in a proprietary cryptocurrency called STEEM. STEEM can then be traded elsewhere for Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin reward that miners receive is an incentive that motivates people to assist in the primary purpose of mining: to legitimize and monitor Bitcoin transactions, ensuring their validity. Because these responsibilities are spread among many users all over the world, Bitcoin is a "decentralized" cryptocurrency, or one that does not rely on any central authority like a central bank or government to oversee its regulation.
Mining to Prevent Double Spend
Avalon miner is getting paid for their work as auditors. They are doing the work of verifying the legitimacy of Bitcoin transactions. This convention is meant to keep Bitcoin users honest and was conceived by Bitcoin's founder, by verifying transactions, miners are helping to prevent the "double-spending problem."
Double spending is a scenario in which a Bitcoin owner illicitly spends the same bitcoin twice. With physical currency, this isn't an issue: once you hand someone a $20 bill to buy a bottle of vodka, you no longer have it, so there's no danger you could use that same $20 bill to buy lotto tickets next door. While there is the possibility of counterfeit cash being made, it is not exactly the same as literally spending the same dollar twice. With digital currency, however, as the Investopedia dictionary explains, "there is a risk that the holder could make a copy of the digital token and send it to a merchant or another party while retaining the original."
Mining and Bitcoin Circulation
In addition to lining the pockets of miners and supporting the Bitcoin ecosystem, mining serves another vital purpose: It is the only way to release new cryptocurrency into circulation. In other words, miners are basically "minting" currency. For example, as of September 2021, there were around 18.82 million bitcoins in circulation, out of an ultimate total of 21 million.
Aside from the coins minted via the genesis block (the very first block, which was created by founder Satoshi Nakamoto), every single one of those bitcoins came into being because of miners. In the absence of miners, Bitcoin as a network would still exist and be usable, but there would never be any additional bitcoin. However, because the rate of bitcoin "mined" is reduced over time, the final bitcoin won't be circulated until around the year 2140. This does not mean that transactions will cease to be verified. Miners will continue to verify transactions and will be paid in fees for doing so in order to keep the integrity of Bitcoin's network.
Aside from the short-term Bitcoin payoff, being a coin miner can give you "voting" power when changes are proposed in the Bitcoin network protocol. This is known as a BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Protocol). In other words, miners have some degree of influence on the decision-making process on such matters as forking.
What You Need to Mine Bitcoins
Although early on in Bitcoin's history individuals may have been able to compete for blocks with a regular at-home personal computer, this is no longer the case. The reason for this is that the difficulty of mining Bitcoin changes over time.
In order to ensure the smooth functioning of the blockchain and its ability to process and verify transactions, the Bitcoin network aims to have one block produced every 10 minutes or so. However, if there are one million mining rigs competing to solve the hash problem, they'll likely reach a solution faster than a scenario in which 10 mining rigs are working on the same problem. For that reason, Bitcoin is designed to evaluate and adjust the difficulty of mining every 2,016 blocks, or roughly every two weeks.1
When there is more computing power collectively working to mine for bitcoins, the difficulty level of mining increases in order to keep block production at a stable rate. Less computing power means the difficulty level decreases. At today's network size, a personal computer mining for bitcoin will almost certainly find nothing.
All of this is to say that, in order to mine competitively, miners must now invest in powerful computer equipment like a GPU (graphics processing unit) or, more realistically, an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). These can run from $500 to the tens of thousands. Some miners—particularly Ethereum miners—buy individual graphics cards (GPUs) as a low-cost way to cobble together mining operations.
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