Cryptocurrency values have skyrocketed since the beginning of 2017, When this article was written, BTC is valued at nearly $2,900 per coin, and ETH has traded as high as $390 in 2017. One year ago, ETH was worth less than $20. The resulting room for profit has allowed mining operations to rent entire 747 airplanes to transport their new mining equipment.
What is cryptocurrency mining?
Cryptocurrency mining is a process in which a computer solves a mathematical problem, normally the problem adjusts in difficulty after each one is solved. The reward for mining is given to compensate users for their time and resources. On average, a bitcoin network block is found every ten minutes. Each block grants a reward of 12BTC, valued at more than $20,000 as of the time this was written.
Rates of reward vary across networks, but there is profit to be made regardless, so long as the reward exceeds the cost of mining. Though many mining pools share rewards based on how mining resources are shared, the profits are still large for some entities, such as Genesis mining.
How can businesses afford consumer airplanes for shipping?
Business Insider reports that one day of mining missed can equate 36,000 ETH, BTC, and other currencies, potentially more than $8.5 million in lost productivity.
As a result, some miners are renting 747’s to meet delivery timelines for new mining hardware, much of which comes from Nvidia and AMD.
What types of equipment are shipped?
The main forms of equipment being shipped in this manner are graphics processing units (GPUs). Producers such as AMD and Nvidia have seen increased demand for their products as the value of various cryptocurrencies have risen over the last few months. GPUs are very dense computer components, normally reserved for gaming machines.
Nvidia and AMD have however designed a cryptocurrency mining unit around their GTX 1080 model graphics card, a high-end component that normally runs in the range of $5-600.
What does this mean for everyday miners?
Every day miners can still receive a share of the profits from participating in a mining pool with personal hardware or use options such as reserving mining power in the cloud (Amazon Web Services is a more common place to do so now.)
While the difficulty will be higher for average miners, it will also be far more expensive for any outside bodies to attack the bolstered cryptocurrency networks.
How can normal users participate?
Everyday folks can still participate in mining activities with various pieces of equipment, ranging from Antminer units to high-end gaming PCs or servers, though their profits will likely be substantially lower than the large mining operators they will compete with.
All a user needs to mine cryptocurrency is a client for the network of their choice, enough memory (be it GPU, CPU, RAM, or another form) to store the problem in question, an internet connection, and enough electricity to supply the machine.