I have recently found out about Bitcoin, and as I read more and found about about hardware and stuff, I thought of a lot of questions.

So Butterfly Labs has Bitcoin mining hardware, and I was thinking, "if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it well." With my current setup (GTX 560), I was making about 1 cent a day. I have given up with that now, because with power usage of mining with a GPU, it's not even worth it. So I was looking at the 600 GH Bitcoin mining card on Butterfly Labs (https://products.butterflylabs.com/homepage-new-products/600-gh-bitcoin-mining-card.html), and with the specs that they have listed, I figured on this calculator (http://www.bitcoinx.com/profit/) that it would make enough Bitcoins to pay for itself in about 16 days (at the current difficulty level, its power consumption, and price of Bitcoins).

Now, that brings me to shares in pools. It says that EasyMiner software is provided. That would mine the Bitcoins for me, but when I was mining with GUIMiner, I realized that I wasn't getting share after share, I was getting one about every 4 or 5 minutes. Is it the software that requests shares, or does the pool's server push it to your miner? This EasyMiner that comes with this mining card, does it know when it finishes mining and requests another share, if that's the case?

Also, the calculated price, is that mining alone, or is it in a pool? It says that alone, it would take 148 days to decrypt a block, or whatever it does (I'm not quite sure what it does yet, but from what I understand, "blocks" are SHA hashes or something). Would I be able to put that card in my current machine (in a free PCI express slot) and run the program, and it wouldn't even slow my PC down? Or would I want a different machine for it? It seems too easy to get all of that money with just this one card.

There is also the TerraMiner IV (www.cointerra.com/product/terraminer-iv-2ths-networked-asic-miner-may-batch/) that is 2 TH/s, but comes with CGminer (with web-based management, whatever that means. Connect to it via the internet?). Would it be better to invest in this than in the ButterflyLabs 600 GH/s card?

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  • It depends on what you mean by "doing it well". If you have beyond tens of thousands of dollars to spend BFL's stuff would work out. But most profitable for the thousand dollar operation would be mining scrypt and the many altcoins with a bunch of graphics cards. – John T Jan 23 '14 at 6:58
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First a short explanation what your miner does: it calculates the (double) sha256 hash of some data. The resulting hash has to have some leading zeros. The number of leading zeros is the "difficulty": The more zeros, the more difficult it is to find it. A miner changes some bytes of the data it hashes, to generate different hashes.

Most pools support different protocols with different options. The original protocol was getwork. But this allows only 2^32=4.29 GH for one request. For fast ASIC miners with 600 GH/s, the limiting factor would be the network speed, not the mining speed, because the miner was allowed to change 4 bytes only. There are some extensions to increase this limit, but it is not a nice an extend-able protocol. This was the reason to invent getblocktemplate. It allows to change much more data on the miner client side, and the miner decides what transactions are included in a block.

If your mining software gets a "share", it mines it until it finds a hash for the requested difficulty. Then it sends it to the server. There are pools which adjusts the difficulty, depending on how fast your client solves a share. The client can actively request new shares, or it can use the longpoll option, which means the server sends new shares, if it thinks it is necessary (e.g. there are new and profitable transactions with fees which can be included in a new block and which might require a new getblocktemplate). Easyminer supports getblocktemplate, so it is not important how many shares you get.

The profit calculator you cited is for using the miner with a pool. Except the solo mining days number: 148 days would be the average time you need to solve a block on your own. the difference to pool mining is, that you create your own block (this is similar to getblocktemplate), but the difficulty is not from the mining pool, but it is the current difficulty from the bitcoin network. This makes it much harder to find some data, so that the resulting hash satisfies the difficulty. But if you mine a block, you'll get 25 bitcoins for it. If you are lucky, you could find a block after a week, but if you are unlucky it might need a year.

The required processing power for your computer for a PCI card is very low. The computer is only used to get the work from a pool (or the bitcoin network for solo mining) and then waits for the card to brute force a lot of hashes. But you need a good power supply and cooling system.

The problem with all the current mining hardware is the availability. You can pre-order it, but when you get it (sometimes you have to wait months for new products), the difficulty of the bitcoin network might have increased already, so that it needs longer until the hardware break even. Or the exchange rate for bitcoins to a fiat currency dropped, if you want to exchange it.

  • So the network speed, would you want a better download speed, or upload speed? And I'm thinking about going with the TerraMiner IV (definitely not ButterflyLabs because I saw another question and they were not highly recommended because of delays and not responding to emails) which is 2 TH/s, so what sort of network speed would you want? – TheNytangel Jan 23 '14 at 20:49
  • The internet network speed is not important. One request is just a few kilobytes, and you need new requests only every some minutes, or at most seconds. You could mine even with an old ISDN line. – Frank Buss Jan 24 '14 at 21:17

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