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Is it the processor? Or maybe RAM? I'm sure, it's not the GPU though. Which and what part does it make them powerful to mine?

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Bitcoin miners have ASIC (application-specific integrated circuits), special chips which can perform mining calculations and nothing else, and are very efficient for it. The specific calculations required are encoded in the hardware - the transistors are arranged in the pattern "calculate SHA-256".

In contrast, the CPU that exists in normal computers can do everything, but is not very efficient at any one task. The transistors are arranged in the pattern "execute the instructions that you are given". So you can give it any instructions you want, including "calculate SHA-256" - but it will not be as efficient as a special-purpose chip.

  • so the special purpose chips on Bitcoin Miners can't be used for anything else i recall? only a CPU for mining. is it? – Robert William May 1 '16 at 10:02
  • @RobertWilliam: I think your problem is that you think "cpu" is a word for any kind of computer chip. It's not. CPU is a specific type of chip. ASIC is a different type of chip, neither of the two are a subset of the other. – Murch May 1 '16 at 10:42
  • @RobertWilliam: Right, those chips can only be used for mass computation of SHA-256, for which virtually the only application is Bitcoin mining. And Murch is correct, the term "CPU" is inappropriate for referring to these chips. – Meni Rosenfeld May 1 '16 at 12:35

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