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What is cryptocurrency mining?

What is Hash Rate?

Discover what hash rate and hash power is, why it's important to know and how it can help you to mine cryptocurrency.

Hash rate (sometimes called the hash power) is the speed at which a cryptocurrency  mining device operates.

To be successful at mining, speed is of the essence since the miner is trying to solve a question, add a block the the chain and reap the rewards before anyone else. The more answers suggested over the shortest period of time will increase the chances of solving that block.

What is the cryptographic hash function?

A hash function in computer processing is a function that compresses information, meaning the output is generally shorter than the input. Hash functions are used in many parts of cryptography to map data of differing sizes to data of a fixed size.

Cryptographic hash functions are ideal for processing cryptocurrency transactions. They are secure and are widely used in information security applications involving authentication, digital signatures and message authentication codes. In the context of cryptocurrency mining, a hash is one computation or “guess” at solving a block. The hash rate can increase or decrease.

Laptops vs miners

These days it’s impossible to mine Bitcoin using a standard desktop computer. The computational difficulty of mining is too high. When Bitcoin first arrived it was possible to mine using a standard home computer or, more specifically, the computer’s GPU (graphics processing unit).

A GPU is a part of the video rendering system. The work it does is very repetitive and deals with a high volume of information. This kind of bulky mathematical work can be done by a GPU much better and in a much higher volume than the computer’s CPU (central processing unit).

What are the different hash rates?

That number is so big we need to talk megas, gigas and teras. These are the hash rates you will see being talked about in the context of cryptocurrency mining.

  • 1 kH/s* (one kilo hash) is 1,000 (one thousand) hashes per second
  • 1 MH/s (one mega hash) is 1,000,000 (one million) hashes per second
  • 1 GH/s (one giga hash) is 1,000,000,000 (one billion) hashes per second
  • 1 TH/s (one tera hash) is 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) hashes per second
  • 1 PH/s (one peta hash) is 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion) hashes per second
  • 1 EH/s (one exa hash) is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion) hashes per second
  •  1 ZH/s (one zeta hash) is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one sextillion) hashes per second
  • 1 YH/s (one yotta hash) is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one septillion) hashes per second

* kH/s is always written with a lower case k as upper case K is reserved for Kelvin (which is a measurement of heat).

Hash rate arms race

It isn’t hard to see that cryptocurrency mining is becoming progressively more difficult. In the case of Bitcoin, this is deliberate. The difficulty of mining is constantly adjusted to keep the production to a fixed time period.

The more miners attracted to the mining effort then the more difficult it becomes. To be successful at mining requires more hash power to have any chance of sharing the rewards.

To see how much effort and power is required in mining Bitcoin, for example, you should use a hash rate calculator. To use this, you’ll need to know:

  • Hashing power
  • Power consumption
  • Cost per KWh
  • Pool Fee

In return for inputting this data, you’ll discover how much profit you can make per day, how much Bitcoin you can mine, and how much your power consumption will cost you.

How long would it take to mine one Bitcoin with a laptop?

For fun let’s see how long my laptop would take to mine one Bitcoin. From the example above we need to deliver a theoretical 16,500 TH/s for a whole day. We know my laptop has a hash rate of 48 so let’s do the maths. Brace yourself….

Theoretical TH/s for a day to mine one Bitcoin

16,500

TH per minute for a day to mine one Bitcoin

990,000

TH per hour for a day to mine one Bitcoin

59,400,000

TH per day to mine one Bitcoin

1,425,600,000

Total hashes

1,425,600,000,000,000,000,000

Computer hash rate per second

48

Total seconds required to deliver the required hashes

29,700,000,000,000,000,000

Total minutes required to deliver the required hashes

495,000,000,000,000,000

Total hours required to deliver the required hashes

8,250,000,000,000,000

Total days required to deliver the required hashes

343,750,000,000,000

Total years required to deliver the required hashes

941,780,821,918

That’s a long time. But a great illustration of how mining is now only viable with specific mining processors and joining a mining pool if you’re an individual. It also illustrates why professional mining operations in countries with access to lower power costs are contributing most of the mining effort.

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