A Quick Look at the Evolution of Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware
February 15, 2021 | Cryptocurrencies | No Comments
Many in the cryptocurrency industry believe that if not for the creative minds of computer engineers, growth in crypto mining would not have been attained. Originally, bitcoins could be mined using personal computers and laptops. Today, the most efficient bitcoin mining hardware that has stood the test of time is the ASIC bitcoin mining machine.
As the number of bitcoin users grew so did the difficulty of mining for bitcoin as a viable means of acquiring the asset. Yet observers in cryptomining like Associate Professor Rakesh Kumar of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of University of Illinois, had previously remarked that the rising dollar value of bitcoin was the strong motivating factor behind the evolution of mining hardware over the past years.
According to a recent CNBC news article, a $100 bitcoin investment purchased and held since 2009 are now assets worth several millions. Last Thursday, BTC hit another record-breaking price of $48,000, which means a 2009 $100 worth of BTC is now roughly worth $4,800,000. As the turns of events have it, bitcoin has become mainstream in the commodity trading business due to the widespread and substantial participation of traditional Wall Street investors.
Stages of Innovations in the Development of Bitcoin Mining Machines
Several years ago, innovators discovered that the specialized electronic circuit graphics processing unit (GPU) originally designed for gaming applications, demonstrated that when reprogrammed, can perform a range of computational tasks for bitcoin mining purposes.
Although the use of GPU increased efficiency sixfold, compared to using ordinary computers, hardware engineers still looked for solutions to improve cost-effectiveness in bitcoin mining.
In 2011, an integrated circuit called a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) became the next best solution to achieve higher hash rates at low cost. Still, FPGA has to be configured by a computer hardware designer, before it can transform a computer into a highly efficient mining machine; at twice the ability of the highest grade GPU to perform mathematical calculations.
However, configurations must be made on both software and hardware level, which made building a mining machine quite labor-intensive before it can run the code better and more efficiently than a GPU.
In 2013, Chinese company known as Canaan Creative came out with a pre-designed application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), which quickly overshadowed the cost efficiency gains of the GPUs and FPGA-built machines. It became the much awaited turning point in the history of bitcoin mining as the innovation led to the production of ASIC computer hardware specifically dedicated and optimized to perform calculations.
Other manufacturers like MicroBT and Bitmain later developed improved versions of ASIC chips combined with highly advanced hardware that can cost-effectively calculate a 100-billion times faster than the average CPU used back in 2009.