- By Anna Kalinowsky
- on February 11, 2020 2:27 pm
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum can be generated via so-called CPU and GPU mining. But is it even worth it? Connect world/Shutterstock.com</span>” data-hero=”” height=”45″ i-amphtml-layout=”responsive” i-amphtml-ssr=”” id=”i-amp–4″ layout=”responsive” src=”https://heise.cloudimg.io/width/600/q75.png-lossy-75.webp-lossy-75.foil1/_www-heise-de_/tipps-tricks/imgs/96/2/8/4/0/9/0/4/shutterstock_1196754286-af8490fb9d96f8df.jpeg” width=”80″>
Image: <span>Connect world/Shutterstock.com</span>
Cryptocurrencies are on everyone’s lips, and for good reason: Unlike classic currencies such as euros and dollars, Bitcoin, Ethereum and Co. are not dependent on a central authority such as the central bank of a currency area. In addition, unlike classic credit cards, they are PayPal and comparable payment systems, virtual cash. In other words, the change of ownership takes place anonymously, state authorities can hardly intervene here. This is also the reason why crypto currencies not only enjoy great popularity on the Darknet, but have also become a popular means of payment and even an investment object for normal users. The value also results from the limited amount: With Bitcoin, for example, there is a limit to a total of 21 million virtual coins. Other systems such as Ethereum or Monero are less limited here. What they have in common, however, is that units of the currency are “mined” via pure computing power: the so-called CPU mining.What is CPU mining?
Cryptocurrencies are based on peer-to-peer technology and the so-called blockchain, a huge database in which all movements and transactions are recorded. For the network to run and the blockchain to work, a lot of computing power is needed. This is exactly what users give away by letting their computer solve cryptographic tasks, so-called hashes, for the blockchain. As a “reward”, units of the cryptocurrency are issued. The more computing power is used, the higher the chance of generating cryptocurrency units. With currently around 9,500 US dollars for a Bitcoin and around 200 dollars for an “Ether”, mining of course initially seems very profitable. Especially since virtual currencies tend to rise in price and can be exchanged for “official” money at any time on cryptocurrency marketplaces – and vice versa. Enormous computing power required
What initially sounds like a great idea, unfortunately now has a big catch: The times in which Bitcoin and Co. could simply be mined with the home PC are over, at least with Bitcoin: The cryptographic tasks to be solved become more and more complex with increasing computing power of the network. The more participants and coins there are and the larger the blockchain becomes, the more complex the calculations become and the slower the currency units are generated. The level of difficulty increases, which means that more and more computing power is required per unit. Computing power that can no longer be achieved in this form by normal PCs. If you still want to deal with Bitcoin mining, you should first keep an eye on three values:
Private mining no longer makes sense
CPU mining was only efficiently possible at the very beginning of the Bitcoin era. In the meantime, the scene during the “Bitcoin gold rush” of recent years therefore switched to so-called GPU mining: Certain graphics cards were particularly efficient in calculating the necessary hash values, which is why they were at times difficult to get and at high prices. However, the gold rush is now over, the required power is too high and the yield too low to continue mining with normal hardware. How low is shown by websites such as the Bitcoin Profit Calculator, which casts a sinister picture on “private” mining: Even with a powerful mining device, the profit from the high German electricity price is usually in negative territory, i.e. anyone who generates crypto currencies pays even with highly efficient miners. And that doesn’t even include the price of the hardware. Mining in the Cloud
As a result, cost-covering mining in the private sector has long since ceased to be possible, especially not in Germany. The professionals therefore now resort to special computer systems that are optimized for crypto mining. So-called ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit), which are optimized for the calculation routines for Bitcoin generation. These are operated in large quantities in places where electricity is cheap and cooling is easy, such as Iceland. Due to their high efficiency, the ASICs ensured that the computing effort for Bitcoin increased overall, which made the calculation even more challenging. Therefore, the ASICs are no longer efficient enough in some cases, and entire cloud farms are now being used for this task. However, corresponding providers such as Bitdeer, Genesis mining or Hashflare allow private miners to participate in mining for a fee – a much more efficient method than operating their own hardware. Is CPU mining via browser still relevant?
As always, when it comes to a lot of money, the half-silken contemporaries are not far away. The cornersteher milieu in cyberspace tried at times to tap as much computing power as possible with as little effort as possible and to outsource crypto mining to foreign hardware. Java scripts such as the now discontinued Coin Hive were delivered to the browsers of Internet users on hacked websites or even via advertising banners. Here they calculated Bitcoins at the expense of the surfers. The sheer mass of visitors provided the necessary computing power here, which is why well-visited warez and torrent sites or other half-baked offers on the web used this technology. Of course, malware can also cheer Internet users on corresponding scripts. The technology still exists, for example from CoinIMP, but corresponding scripts are now recognized and blocked by many browsers, adblockers and virus scanners. Conclusion: Better to buy than to mine
Overall, the times in which users could independently mine important crypto currencies such as Bitcoin are over. As soon as another cryptocurrency receives a certain relevance according to a similar principle, the professional miners are not far away, who also increase the level of difficulty with appropriate effort. CPU and GPU mining is therefore at best still useful for exotic or new crypto currencies. If you want to use Bitcoin and Co. or speculate on increasing value, you should therefore buy them on one of the numerous Bitcoin exchanges on the net – this not only saves time and money, but is also much more convenient.