Chia, the space occupied by the cryptocurrency network is already impressive

Chia, the space occupied by the cryptocurrency network is already impressive


Over the last few days we have already talked to you on more than one occasion about the new cryptocurrency Chia which, unlike most of the others already on the market, uses storage devices for mining. This has led to a surge in demand for SSDs and Hard Disks with a consequent decrease in available stocks and an increase in prices for end consumers. In about a month the storage space occupied on the Chia network has increased from 120PB up to 1143PB, or 1.14 Exabytes (which is equivalent to 1,140,000TB or 63,333 20TB hard drives).

Chia is a cryptocurrency proof of space-time which uses the storage space present on the miner's systems to store a collection of cryptographic numbers called “plots”. When the blockchain transmits a challenge for the next block, the machines scan their "plots" to check if they have the closest hash to the value sought. This method eliminates the Proof of Work concept used by Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Meanwhile, the probability of winning a block is related to the percentage of the total space a miner owns relative to the entire network, which means essentially that whoever has more space available will have a better chance of winning. Currently each plot requires about 350GB of storage space and 4GB of RAM, so for example, if you want to store 100 plots, you need a system with 35TB of space and 400GB of RAM. While buying four 10TB HDDs is cheap, buying 400GB of RAM is certainly not.

Credit: Thousands of Chia miners are now assembling machines with dozens of HDDs capable of storing dozens of terabytes of data. While each of these drives doesn't consume much - around 6.5W in operation and around 5.6W when idle - dozens of such hard drives can draw hundreds of Watts when running and usually even more when running. start. For example, an 18TB Western Digital HC550 32 HDD system based on a motherboard with 32 SATA ports can consume at least about 180W. It remains to be seen how Chia mining will develop in the future, given that, continuing at this rate, the amount of storage space used by the Chia network will be very high already in a year.

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New Motherboard for Chia Mining Includes 32 SATA Ports

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Motherboard manufacturers in China are getting in on the cryptomining craze surrounding Chia, a new cryptocurrency available to mine in May. We’ve talked about Chia several times now, including rumors that hard drive demand has spiked artificially because buyers in certain areas are hoarding drives, hoping to drive up prices.

Drive hoarding may be partially responsible for high prices, but clearly, motherboard manufacturers expect storage mining to catch on. A new platform from motherboard manufacturer Onda, the Chia D32H-D4, offers no fewer than 32 SATA ports.

These aren’t standard SATA ports; they’re mSATA connectors. This confused me at first, because you wouldn’t normally slap mSATA directly on a motherboard this way. At a guess, however, these plugs are designed for converter cables with mSATA at one end and possibly SATA + power at the other end of the cable. The motherboard uses mSATA to provide power and electricity simultaneously. The manufacturer behind this motherboard, Onda, is reportedly offering it with a custom chassis and an 800W power supply. The board is based on a B365 chipset and offers two six-pin connectors to provide additional power. B365 is a Coffee Lake-era chipset, so CPUs from Intel’s 8th and 9th Gen will be supported. There were two revisions of B365, but this board appears to only support Coffee Lake, not the older Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs.

Be advised that this motherboard is not ATX. Standard ATX boards are 305mm x 244mm. This board is 530mm by 310mm. While the motherboard does offer an x16 PCIe slot, the chassis Onda is selling doesn’t support an external graphics card.

This motherboard won’t fit in any standard chassis. EATX is capable of meeting the width requirement but isn’t tall enough to fit the board. The dimensions are larger than even the theoretical WTX standard at 356mm x 425mm.

Bullshit Is Coming

If you had a vague plan to buy storage in the next few months, we recommend buying it now. It’s possible that all of the hype around Chia is smoke and mirrors intended to scare up rumors of shortages to promote the cryptocurrency itself. Even writing disparagingly about the cryptocurrency arguably feeds the hype cycle by improving Chia’s brand awareness.

The problem is, ongoing cryptocurrency shortages continue to break things. GPU prices and availability may not come down until the end of the year, though we’re hoping that new mining limits on future Nvidia cards will help improve availability for gamers, reducing the impact of ongoing shortages. Storage is another problem altogether. It may be possible to stop a GPU from mining, but good luck preventing a hard drive from storing data.

That’s where Chia is such a potential issue. Other cryptocurrencies based on storage solutions use a solution called proof of capacity. Proof of capacity allows a user to re-use the same hard drive space. Chia uses proof of spacetime, which requires that an end-user maintain or add capacity over time in order to increase payout rates. Your payout is calculated based on the percentage of the total storage pool that belongs to you. Should Chia take off, it could drive shortages in storage the way Ethereum mining has caused shortages in GPUs.

It’s possible that all of this will still come to nothing. Problem is, if it doesn’t, storage could be pricey for months, even a year or more. We’re one month short of Pascal’s 5th anniversary. GPU prices have been elevated, to one degree or another, for 28 of the past 59 months. If this same pattern hits storage, the window for buying components may be much smaller than in the past, and much harder to predict.

OEMs should remain insulated from this problem for now, since they buy on contract. Should Chia prove successful, the PC retail channel will be further harmed as another critical system component becomes impossible for most to afford. If you have storage upgrades you want to make, and you can afford to make them now, we recommend you do so, as a precautionary measure against future near-term price increases that could stick around for 6-12 months, depending on how everything shakes out.

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