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The Cost of Bitcoin Mining Has Never Really Increased
In front of me are nine warehouses with bright blue roofs, each emblazoned with the logo for Bitmain, a Chinese firm headquartered in Beijing that is arguably the most important company in the Bitcoin industry.
It also uses its own rigs to stock facilities that it owns or co-owns and operates. Bitmain owns about 20 percent of this one. Jihan Wu, the CEO of Bitmain, claims that 70 percent of the Bitcoin mining rigs in operation today were made by his company. And, according to a study conducted last winter by the University of Cambridge , in England, it's likely that most of those machines are plugged into an outlet somewhere in China.
Bitmain acquired this mining facility in Inner Mongolia a couple years ago and has turned it into one of the most powerful money factories on the Bitcoin network. It quite literally metabolizes electricity into money. By my own calculations, the hardware on the grounds—some 21, computers—accounted for about 4 percent of all the computing power in the Bitcoin network when I visited.
Like ton paperweights, these machines bear down on the globally distributed ledger of transactions that is Bitcoin, keeping its pages from ever turning backward.
Here is where the supply of existing bitcoins is secured. And here is where the banquet of new bitcoins is served. Speedy Installation: The faster the machines are plugged in, the sooner they can begin gulping down electricity and turning it into money. Racks of bitcoin mining rigs run the length of seven warehouses at Bitmain's Ordos facility, which is in a constant state of upgrade. The process of mining bitcoins works like a lottery. Bitcoin miners are competing to produce hashes—alphanumeric strings of a fixed length that are calculated from data of an arbitrary length.
They're producing the hashes from a combination of three pieces of data: new blocks of Bitcoin transactions; the last block on the blockchain; and a random number. Each time miners perform the hash function on the block header with a new random number, they get a new result. To win the lottery, a miner must find a hash that begins with a certain number of zeroes. Just how many zeroes are required is a shifting parameter determined by how much computing power is attached to the Bitcoin network.
Every two weeks, on average, the mining software automatically readjusts the number of leading zeros needed—the difficulty level—by looking at how fast new blocks of Bitcoin transactions were added. The algorithm is aiming for a latency of 10 minutes between blocks.
When miners boost the computing power on the network, they temporarily increase the rate of block creation. The network senses the change and then ratchets up the difficulty level. When a miner's computer finds a winning hash, it broadcasts the block header to its next peers in the Bitcoin network, which check it and then propagate it further. Then two things happen. New transactions are added to the Bitcoin blockchain ledger, and the winning miner is rewarded with newly minted bitcoins. The miner also collects small fees that users voluntarily tack onto their transactions as a way of pushing them to the head of the line.
It's ultimately an exchange of electricity for coins, mediated by a whole lot of computing power. The probability of an individual miner winning the lottery depends entirely on the speed at which that miner can generate new hashes relative to the speed of all other miners combined.
In this way, the lottery is more like a raffle, where the more tickets you buy in comparison to everyone else makes it more likely that your name will be pulled out of the hat.
Haste Makes Money: A tangle of networking cables is evidence that the building was constructed and the equipment installed at breakneck speeds.
These dynamics have resulted in a race among miners to amass the fastest, most energy-efficient chips. And the demand for faster equipment has spawned a new industry devoted entirely to the computational needs of Bitcoin miners.
Until late , generic graphics cards and field-programmable gate arrays FPGAs were powerful enough to put you in the race. But that same year companies began to sell computer chips, called application-specific integrated circuits ASICs , which are specifically designed for the task of computing the Bitcoin hashing algorithm.
Today, ASICs are the standard technology found in every large-scale facility, including the mining farm in Ordos. Bitmain gained an edge by supplying a superior product in large quantities, a feat that has eluded every other company in the industry. The Ordos facility is stuffed almost exclusively with Bitmain's best performing rig, the Antminer S9. According to company specs, the S9 is capable of churning out 14 terahashes, or 14 trillion hashes, every second while consuming around 0.
Although BitFury claims to be producing chips whose performance is nearly identical to those used in the S9, the company has packaged them into a very different product. Called the BlockBox, it's a complete bitcoin-mining data center that BitFury ships to customers in a storage container. Beijing's Canaan Creative is still selling mining rigs to the public, but it offers only one product, the AvalonMiner , and it's only half as powerful and slightly less efficient than the S9.
A control board on the top of the machine coordinates the work, downloading the block header to be hashed and distributing the problem to all the hashing engines, which then report back with solutions and the random numbers they used to get them. All mining ASICs, Bitmain's included, are performing essentially the same computation—the SHA hashing algorithm—even if they go about it a bit differently.
The standard algorithm takes 64 steps to complete, but in Bitcoin it is run twice for each block header, meaning a full round requires steps that are heavy on integer addition. That's where most of the work is. Harsh Conditions: Inner Mongolia has some of the cheapest electricity prices in the world 4 U.
But it comes with a trade-off: The climate outside Bitmain's warehouses can be brutal, especially in the summer. Despite having similar needs, there is a good deal of diversity in how chip designers build their hashing engines, says Hanke, who also served as the chief technology officer of a now-defunct mining rig manufacturer called CoinTerra.
For example, Bitmain uses pipelining—a strategy that links the steps in a process into a chain in which the output of one step is the input of the next. Bitmain competitor BitFury has chosen not to use that technology. The most pressing problem in the mining chip design is power efficiency, because your return on investment is the difference between how much money you spend on electricity versus how many new bitcoins you can win.
You're not designing the adders for maximum possible speed, but you're designing them for the maximum power efficiency," says Hanke. If you're doing your job right, you're also desperately looking for a way to keep the chips cool. A controller on top of the machine samples the ambient temperature and sets the fan speed and the voltage and clock speed of the machine accordingly. Breathe In: Each warehouse is swathed in netting to keep pollen and dust from getting inside.
A young man named Zhang brings me inside, shouting over a deafening whir. All along a wall of the warehouse, the windows have been removed from their frames and replaced with desert fans—panels of twisted, tightly packed metal strips that are being doused with water from a pipe above. Zhang walks up to a door between two shelves full of mining rigs, and we step through. We're standing in an empty, brightly lit space that serves as the heat dump for the facility. The exhaust fans from all the mining machines on the other side are poking out through little holes in a metal wall, blasting hot air into the space, where it gets purged to the outside by another wall full of giant metal fans.
Dust is a problem as well, which is why the interior of every warehouse I walk through is veiled in a fine fabric filter. Drip Dry: Windows have been removed from one full side of the warehouse and replaced with desert fans—panels of twisted metal that get doused with water from a pipe running along the top.
As air enters the warehouse through these desert fans, the water evaporates and cools the interior. To save money on cooling, some mine operators have opted for cooler climates. BitFury also runs three large mining facilities, one of which is in Iceland to benefit from the cool weather.
The other two BitFury mines are in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, where the weather is much warmer. According to Vavilov, the company has developed a two-phase immersion cooling technology with their subsidiary, Allied Control.
The system bathes the mining machines in a dielectric heat-transfer liquid called Novec, which cools the computers as it evaporates. The system is now deployed at the Georgia data centers. Heat Pumps: On the hot side of the warehouse, industrial fans blow air back out into the courtyard. While heat is definitely an issue for the mining farm in Ordos, the electricity there is dirt cheap, only 4 U. That's about one-fifth of the average price in the United Kingdom.
The only other costs for the facility are the rigs themselves and the salary of the few dozen staff that keeps them operational. Zhang is part of that staff. He recently graduated from college in Inner Mongolia and started working at the mine only a few months ago. He describes himself as a technician, then points to a man who is standing on a pneumatic lift pulling a mining rig out of the racks.
The controller on the S9 has a red light that goes off when it detects a malfunction. Technicians like Zhang are on hand to scan the racks for sick rigs. When they find one, they pull it out and send it to a house on the factory lot where other technicians diagnose the problem, fix it, and get the machine back on the line.
Sometimes it's a failed chip. Other times it's a burned-out fan. If the problem is more serious, then the rig gets sent all the way to Bitmain's labs in Shenzhen in southeast China for a proper rebuild. Every moment the rigs spend unplugged, potential revenue slips away. And this is just one of the facilities that Bitmain runs. Heat Shields: The layout of the mining racks is being reconfigured to maintain a cool side and a hot side.
The machines are set up on a single rack that traverses the entire length of the warehouse. The fans are aligned to shoot hot air out behind the machines into the hot side of the warehouse, and a barrier is set up to keep the air from circulating back. But due to the volatility of bitcoin, it's impossible to predict the annual revenue of a mining farm. Within a week it was back up, and approaching an all-time high. Price fluctuations, which have been common in Bitcoin since the day it was created eight years ago, saddle miners with risk and uncertainty.
And that burden is shared by chip manufacturers, especially ones like Bitmain, which invest the time and money in a full custom design.
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BitClub Network website pulled offline
Abel and his codefendants were charged by indictment in December According to the indictment, from early through December , the defendants used BitClub Network to solicit money from investors in exchange for shares of purported cryptocurrency mining pools and rewarded investors for recruiting new investors into the scheme. Abel, a promoter of the BitClub Network, sold shares of BitClub Network despite knowing the network and its operators did not register the shares with the U. As part of his efforts to promote shares in the BitClub Network mining pools, Abel created and posted videos to the internet and gave presentations and speeches about the BitClub Network throughout the United States and numerous other countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe. In an effort to avoid detection and regulation from U. Individual Income Tax Return. Earlier this year, co-defendant Balaci pled guilty to one count of a dual-object conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to offer and sell unregistered securities. The BitClub case is one of a number of criminal actions by the U.
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His current status and whereabouts are unknown. BitClub Network was shut down by the US government. It was a Ponzi scheme. Your money is gone, there is no KYC.
The Rise and Fall of a Bitcoin Mining Scheme That Was "Too Big to Fail"
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According to the press release , the BitClub Network, which is very popular in Kenya, had promised massive rates of return in exchange for investments in shared cryptocurrency mining pools. Investors were promised monthly returns from their investments. However, US authorities have said that the three men falsified information on returns in order to solicit more investments. Two of the men have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison with the third man facing a prison sentence of up to 5 years. BitClub Network has had a suspicious history over the years since its debut in Since then, similar reports have appeared across other reputable sites.
One reason why so many people invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the potential for out-of-this-world returns. That is what helps make the crypto market a prime space for scammers looking for easy money. To help keep your investment safe, beware of the following Bitcoin scams. In , the South Korean government spotted one of the most well-known examples of a fake Bitcoin exchange.
Ron Cresswell, J. In December , the U. In a press release , U. In recent years, fraudsters have used a variety of cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes to steal billions of dollars from investors.
Login page for bitclub network sign up is presented below. Log into bitclub network sign up page with one-click or find related helpful links. Contact Us Remove Site. Bitclub Network Sign Up Login page for bitclub network sign up is presented below. Last Updated: 28th September, With BitClub Network you earn daily profits from our shared mining pools. We also have a referral program so you can get paid for anyone you refer to Bitclub.