July 2, 2022
Chia Cryptocurrency, and hard disks

Chia Farming

Now before you start thinking, of me filling the entire house full of chia pets That’s not what I’m talking about. Chia is a new cryptocurrency, which is a type of money. It’s a digital currency that’s backed by something called a blockchain. Blockchain is a big topic but simply put, It just means a bunch of computers put together to verify transaction history or blocks in a chain usually in a decentralized method or sometimes centralized. Many cryptocurrencies use the computational power of a computer to accomplish this known as “proof of work”. This can be accomplished with a CPU (Central processing unit), or a GPU (graphics processors). There’s exception, such as “proof of stake” this is where blocks are verified with the amount of coins someone holds. Please note this is all simplified and the topic is much more complicated.

Power Consumption

The main reason why I’m interested in Chia, because one of the biggest issues with current cryptocurrencies today is high energy use. One interesting thing about Chia, Is the fact that it uses hard drives which use much less energy than CPUs and GPUs. I believe that low energy consumption Is Key for the future for cryptocurrency be the standard for in the future. Well, it does take energy to run hard drives but they certainly don’t use as much energy as a high-end video card. The average hard drive shouldn’t use any more than 15 to 30 watts. Where a high-end video card would use between 100w to 300w!

The Spaghetti Monster

My first build was named for the wiring mess it had. I use an old Dell workstation computer originally used for virtualization for my home lab. Since I wasn’t utilizing it, I figured it would be a good starting point.

Chia farmer setup with a extra power supply
Chia farmer setup, my 3d printer come in hand for the drive holders

What a Farmer does is it waits until a block challenges from the Chia network. Then it takes that challenge and tests it against the plots it has. If the farmer finds a match a reward is given in the form of coins. The only way to improve your chances is to have more plots which requires more storage. To get plots you make them on any computer using computational power and a fast storage drive such as an SSD drive.

Spaghetti Monster Specs
Computer: Dell Precision T7600
CPU: Xeon E5-2665 2.4Ghz x2
RAM: 64Gb Ecc PC3 12800 Rdimm
Storage: 128TB + 256GB for boot

Other than the farmer there are also other computers called harvesters. Harvesters Help the farmer by taking on some of the block challenges it gets from the Chia network. There’s are many reasons to do this. One is considered more secure, and it avoids conflict and congestion on the network that would happen if there’s more than one farmer. Plus allowing for more growth if the farmer hits the maximum capacity. They can also be used to make plots too.

Two Harvesters(computers) connected to a KVM Setup
My harvesters

Here in this photo, I Have the Harvesters attach to a KVM switch. With allows me to quickly switch between them. Here in this picture, it’s showing the Harvester on the left making Plots.

Issues With My Spaghetti Monster

While I’m happy with how my setup turns out, I need to retire this monster. The power supply inside the computer doesn’t have many SATA power ports(only one for the DVD drive), which was a big issue as I needed to attach many hard drives. I did overcome this by using an external power supply. But I didn’t like this solution as it would create issues that might be hard to diagnose and can be being hazardous, plus I didn’t like how it look.

Not only that but hardware is old, with many security vulnerabilities that are at the hardware level. And Every time I turned on this monster on the lights would dim every time, Not exactly power efficient. With these issues I decided to build a new computer with more capacity, that’s more suited for attaching hard drives. I’m also going to redo my Harvesters since one of them is kinda embarrassing with that fan hanging there. I’ll have more on my rebuild in a future post.

The Future of Chia Coin

I have been questioning my decision on Chia since starting. Actual energy use seems to be higher since because I need to consistently make plots just to keep my farm growing to be competitive with the other farms on the network. And just to store those new plots I need more hard drives, which takes more power. It seems like a cycle that doesn’t stop, and one I can’t afford to continue.

Chart is from CoinMarketCap

When I started farming Chia the average price for a coin was about $1500, since then the price has dropped to about $270. It’s hard to say if it will ever return to the levels it had. With the growing cost of Chia farming, it’s starting to look more like a bust. When I first learn about the price I thought it was overpriced, now it seems to be more realistic. I don’t think it’s going to drop much more. But If does drop more I can still sell my hardware off and recoup some of my lost’s. With anything new, the future is uncertain, but that is why I took a risk. There’s no real gain if there’s no real risk.

colby

Computer guru with years working with technology. I find it fun to tinker with computer new and old, and make them do my work for me.

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