Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2012 - 01:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mining, gpu, btc, block reward halving, block reward, bitcoin
Earlier this week, the 50BTC reward given to miners that successfully find blocks of Bitcoin transactions was halved to 25BTC. This means that the gross income of miners is now half of what it has been since the cryptocurrency’s inception. As a result, many miners – especially those using graphics cards – will have to re-evaluate their net earnings to determine if they are still making any profits from mining coins after hardware and electricity costs are taken into consideration.
As an example, when mining bitcoins using a single shader-unlocked AMD Radeon HD 6950 graphics card, I was able to obtain approximately 0.12 BTC per day. Now, because the reward is cut in half, I am able to make about 0.06 BTC per day. Unfortunately, that is approximately the same amount of BTC (when converted to USD) that it costs in electricity to run, negating profits. Technically, according to Allchains.info, I am (just barely) still profitable with a net profit of $0.076 USD per day after electricity costs. As the exchange rate has gone up slightly, it is a bit more than that in actuality but it is still a good estimation of profitability. There are also non-monetary costs associated with mining bitcoins in the form of the extra heat and noise generated by the graphics card being run under load 24/7. And at $0.076 cents a day, it really does not seem worth it anymore. Then again, it does act as a room heater in the winter and it at least subsidizes part of the cost of heating the room (heh) even if it does not pay out much more than it costs to run.
It will be interesting to see how miners react, especially once the colder months are behind us. Some Bitcoin miners have moved on to alternative cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin and Terracoin, however that has caused the difficulty of mining LTC to double without an equal increase in exchange rate which has actually made mining LTC less profitable than mining BTC (d'oh!).
The reward halving is not an unexpected event, and, in fact, it has been intentionally executed by the bitcoin developers to prevent inflation. Just as the mining difficulty adjusts every 2016 blocks, every four years the reward is cut in half until mining blocks no longer provides rewards (with the intention that transaction fees will provide all of the incentive to mine from then one). As such, many miners knew about it before hand, and planned accordingly. Some miners sold off their rigs, others (mostly those with free electricity) are continuing to mine, and yet other miners moved to alternative cryptocurrencies. (That's not to mention those that mine for the purpose of securing the network which is not always a profitable (albeit necessary) pursuit.)
Interestingly, the difficulty of Bitcoin is estimated to increase rather than decrease with the upcoming adjustment despite the reward split and a certain number of users moving away from mining. This may be the result of miners speculating that the price (exchange rate of USD/BTC) will increase and/or that other miners will drop off and the difficulty will begin to decrease at some point. Miners with lage farms of gaphics cards may also be able to hold out despite the block reward halving as they have enough hashing power to keep profits at a worthwile level. While my single card is only making about $18 a month now (versus ~35+), users with more cards can still be seeing sizable returns. So long as profits are there, mining will continue, though newcomers looking to invest in mining rigs are less likely to join in the current climate (seemingly vaporware ASICs notwithstanding). There may also be users that are mining solely for BTC that they will hoard or spend with merchants (like WordPress) that accept bitcoins without concern for exchanging to USD or other national currencies.
In all, there are an astounding number of factors surrounding the block reward halving along with many theories about what will happen as a result of it. At this point, it is still to early to tell, but It will be interesting to see which theories hold true.
Read more about the bitcoin cryptocurrency and how mining works at PC Perspective.
What do you think about the bitcoin reward being cut in half? How will it effect you, and will you continue to mine at the current exchange rate and difficulty? Let us know in the comments below (no registration required).
New Trojan.Badminer Malware Steals Your Spare Processing Cycles To Make Criminals Money At Your Expense
Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 11:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trojan, opencl, mining, Malware, gpgpu, bitcoin
A new piece of malware was recently uncovered by anti-virus provider Symantec that seeks to profit from your spare computing cycles. Dubbed Trojan.Badminer, this insidious piece of code is a trojan that (so far) is capable of affecting Windows operating systems from Windows 98 to Windows 7. Once this trojan has been downloaded and executed (usually through an online attack vector via an unpatched bug in flash or java), it proceeds to create a number of files and registry entries.
It's a trojan infected bitcoin, oh the audacity of malware authors!
After it has propagated throughout the system, it is then able to run one of two mining programs. It will first search for a compatible graphics card, and run Phoenix Miner. However, if a graphics card is not found, it will fall back to RPC miner and instead steal your CPU cycles. The miners then start hashing in search of bitcoin blocks, and if found, will then send the reward money to the attacker’s account.
It should be noted that bitcoin mining itself is not inherently bad, and many people run it legitimately. In fact, if you are interested in learning more about bitcoins, we ran an article on them recently. This trojan on the other hand is malicious because it is infecting the user’s computer with unwanted code that steals processing cycles from the GPU and CPU to make the attacker money. All these GPU and CPU cycles come at the cost of reduced system responsiveness and electricity, which can add up to a rather large bill, depending on where you live and what hardware the trojan is able to get its hands on.
Right now, Symantec is offering up general tips on keeping users’ computers free from the infection, including enabling a software firewall (or at least being behind a router with its own firewall that blocks unsolicited incoming connections), running the computer as the lowest level user possible with UAC turned on, and not clicking on unsolicited email attachments or links.
If you are also a bitcoin miner, you may want to further protect yourself by securing your bitcoin wallet in the event that you also accidentally become infected by a trojan that seeks to steal the wallet.dat file (the file that essentially holds all your bitcoin currency).
Stay vigilant folks, and keep an eye out on your system GPU and CPU utilization in addion to using safer computing habits to keep nastly malware like this off of your system. On a more opinionated note, is it just me or have malware authors really hit a new low with this one?
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2011 - 04:38 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, bitcoin, mining, gpu, gpgpu, amd, nvidia, eyefinity, APU
PC Perspective Podcast #162 - 7/14/2011
This week we talk about our adventures in Bitcoin Mining, the Eyefinity experience, Ultrabooks and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 0:00:40 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:10 Bitcoin Currency and GPU Mining Performance Comparison
- 0:22:48 Bitcoin Mining Update: Power Usage Costs Across the United States
- 0:34:15 This Podcast is brought to you by
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:34:50 Eyefinity and Me
- 0:45:00 Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Dual Graphics Technology Performance
- 0:47:02 As expected NVIDIA's next generation GPU release schedule was a bit optimistic
- 0:49:40 A PC Macbook Air: Can Intel has?
- 0:53:00 PC: for all your Xbox gaming needs
- 0:56:06 Email from Howard
- 1:00:28 Email from Ian
- 1:03:00 Email from Jan
- In case you're interested, here are almost 150mpix of HDR: http://rattkin.info/archives/430
- 1:08:55 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
- 1:09:45 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 1:15:15 Closing
How much will these Bitcoin mining configurations cost you in power?
Earlier this week we looked at Bitcoin mining performance across a large range of GPUs but we had many requests for estimates on the cost of the power to drive them. At the time we were much more interested in the performance of these configurations but now that we have that information and we started to look at the potential profitability of doing something like this, look at the actual real-world cost of running a mining machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week became much more important.
This led us to today's update where we will talk about the average cost of power, and thus the average cost of running our 16 different configurations, in 50 different locations across the United States. We got our data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website where they provide average retail prices on electricity divided up by state and by region. For use today, we downloaded the latest XLS file (which has slightly more updated information than the website as of this writing) and started going to work with some simple math.
Here is how your state matches up:
The first graph shows the rates in alphabetical order by state, the second graph in order from the most expensive to the least. First thing we noticed: if you live in Hawaii, I hope you REALLY love the weather. And maybe it's time to look into that whole solar panel thing, huh? Because Hawaii was SO FAR out beyond our other data points, we are going to be leaving it out of our calculations and instead are going to ask residents and those curious to just basically double one of our groupings.
Keep reading to get the full rundown on how power costs will affect your mining operations, and why it may not make sense to mine AT ALL with NVIDIA graphics cards!
What is a Bitcoin?
This article looking at Bitcoins and the performance of various GPUs with mining them was really a big team effort at PC Perspective. Props goes out to Tim Verry for doing the research on the process of mining and helping to explain what Bitcoins are all about. Ken Addison did a great job doing through an alottment of graphics cards running our GUIMiner and getting the data you will see presented later. Scott Michaud helped with some graphics and imagery and I'm the monkey that just puts it all together at the end.
** Update 7/13/11 ** We recently wrote another piece on the cost of the power to run our Bitcoin mining operations used in this performance article. Based on the individual prices of electric in all 50 states of the US, we found that the cost of the power to run some cards exceeded the value of the Bitcoin currency based on today's exchange rates. I would highly recommend you check out that story as well after giving this performance-based article a thorough reading. ** End Update **
A new virtual currency called Bitcoin has been receiving a great deal of news fanfare, criticism and user adoption. The so called cryptographic currency uses strong encryption methods to eliminate the need for trust when buying and selling goods over the Internet in addition to a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server that maintains a public record of every transaction to prevent double spending of the electronic currency. The aspect of Bitcoin that has caused the most criticism and recent large rise in growth lies in is its inherent ability to anonymize the real life identities of users (though the transactions themselves are public) and the ability to make money by supporting the Bitcoin network in verifying pending transactions through a process called “mining” respectively. Privacy, security, cutting out the middle man and making it easy for users to do small casual transactions without fees as well as the ability to be rewarded for helping to secure the network by mining are all selling points (pun intended) of the currency.
When dealing with a more traditional and physical local currency, there is a need to for both parties to trust the currency but not much need to trust each other as handing over cash is fairly straightforward. One does not need to trust the other person as much as if it were a check which could bounce. Once it has changed hands, the buyer can not go and spend that money elsewhere as it is physically gone. Transactions over the Internet; however, greatly reduce the convenience of that local currency, and due to the series of tubes’ inability to carry cash through the pipes, services like Paypal as well as credit cards and checks are likely to be used in its place. While these replacements are convenient, they also are much riskier than cash as fraudulent charge-backs and disputes are likely to occur, leaving the seller in a bad position. Due to this risk, sellers have to factor a certain percentage of expected fraud into their prices in addition to collecting as much personally identifiable information as possible. Bitcoin seeks to remedy these risks by bringing the convenience of a local currency to the virtual plane with irreversible transactions, a public record of all transactions, and the ability to trust strong cryptography instead of the need for trusting people.
There are a number of security measures inherent in the Bitcoin protocol that assist with these security goals. Foremost, bitcoin uses strong public and private key cryptography to secure coins to a user. Money is handled by a bitcoin wallet, which is a program such as the official bitcoin client that creates public/private key pairs that allow you to send and receive money. You are further able to generate new receiving addresses whenever you want within the client. The wallet.dat file is the record of all your key pairs and thus your bitcoins and contains 100 address/key pairs (though you are able to generate new ones beyond that). Then, to send money one only needs to sign the bitcoin with their private key and send it to the recipient’s public key. This creates a chain of transactions that are secured by these public and private key pairs from person to person. Unfortunately this cryptography alone is not able to prevent double spending, meaning that Person A could sign the bitcoin with his private key to Person B, but also could do the same to Person C and so on. This issue is where the peer-to-peer and distributed computing aspect of the bitcoin protocol come into play. By using a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server, the bitcoin protocol creates a public record of every transaction that prevents double spending of bitcoins. Once the bitcoin has been signed to a public key (receiving address) with the user’s private key, and the network confirms this transaction the bitcoins can no longer be spent by Person A as the network has confirmed that the coin belongs to Person B now, and they are the only ones that can spend it using their private key.
Keep reading our article that details the theories behind Bitcoins as well as the performance of modern GPUs in mining them!