bitcoin

Cheap graphics card for bitcoin mining

24.06.2018

In a bunker in Iceland, powerful computers are whirring 24 hours a day — and extracting an invisible currency. The company behind the operation relies on cheap energy to turn processing power into cash. On the flat lava plain of Reykjanesbaer, Iceland, near the Arctic Circle, you can find the mines of Bitcoin. To get there, you pass through a fortified gate and cheap graphics card for bitcoin mining a featureless yellow building.

After checking in with a guard behind bulletproof glass, you face four more security checkpoints, including a so-called man trap that allows passage only after the door behind you has shut. These computers are the laborers of the virtual mines where Bitcoins are unearthed. Instead of swinging pickaxes, these custom-built machines, which are running an open-source Bitcoin program, perform complex algorithms 24 hours a day. If they come up with the right answers before competitors around the world do, they win a block of 25 new Bitcoins from the virtual currency’s decentralized network. The network is programmed to release 21 million coins eventually.

A little more than half are already out in the world, but because the system will release Bitcoins at a progressively slower rate, the work of mining could take more than 100 years. Bitcoins are invisible money, backed by no government, useful only as a speculative investment or online currency, but creating them commands a surprisingly hefty real-world infrastructure. Emmanuel Abiodun, 31, founder of the company that built the Iceland installation, shouting above the din of the computers. We cannot risk that anyone will get to them. Abiodun is one of a number of entrepreneurs who have rushed, gold-fever style, into large-scale Bitcoin mining operations in just the last few months. All of these people are making enormous bets that Bitcoin will not collapse, as it has threatened to do several times. If the system did crash, the new computers would be essentially useless because they are custom-built for Bitcoin mining.

Miners, though, are among the virtual-currency faithful, believing that Bitcoin will turn into a new, cheaper way of sending money around the world, leaving behind its current status as a largely speculative commodity. Most of the new operations popping up guard their secrecy closely, but Mr. Abiodun agreed to show his installation for the first time. An earnest young Briton, with the casual fashion taste of the tech cognoscenti, he was a computer programmer at HSBC in London when he decided to invest in specialized computers that would carry out constant Bitcoin mining.

The computers that do the work eat up so much energy that electricity costs can be the deciding factor in profitability. There are Bitcoin mining installations in Hong Kong and Washington State, among other places, but Mr. Abiodun chose Iceland, where geothermal and hydroelectric energy are plentiful and cheap. The energy required to run these computers is huge, and has led to criticism that Bitcoin mining is wasteful, not to mention socially useless. The operation can baffle even those entrusted with its care.

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