31 Oct '13, 5pm

Bitcoin’s Computing Crisis

The profitability of a single mining computer is measured by the relative power it contributes to the entire network. As these new rigs roll out, and the speed of the Bitcoin network increases, the protocol governing how much computing you need to earn a bitcoin responds by increasing the difficulty of the algorithm, meaning that it takes more hashes on average to create new coins. In the four years since Bitcoin was created, miners have repeatedly upgraded to devices that are more energy efficient and tuned to the task of calculating Bitcoin hashes, graduating from CPUs to GPUs to FPGAs, and now finally to ASIC mining rigs. Because each improvement has brought with it an increase in difficulty, first-generation machines that once brought in a profit now fail to mine enough bitcoins to pay for the electricity running them. Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious character who inv...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/networks/bitcoins-comp...

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