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Ask Slashdot: Enterprise Bitcoin Mining For Go-Green Initiatives? 312

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the idle-cycles dept.
Supp0rtLinux writes "Bitcoins are currently trading around $75. I work for a very large organization. We have a fairly large HPC that is usually about 50% idle, as well as about 18K desktops on 4 campuses connected with dark fiber. All stay on 24x7 for after-hours AV scans (weekly) and backups (2-3x a week). All are leases that refresh every 2 years so all have fairly good CPU & RAM specs. As part of a go-green initiative a proposal has come up to use all the PCs for bitcoin in our own mining group; sort of like SETI-at-home style, but with a real dollar value return to us. Additionally, we would setup a queue in our HPC that dedicates 30% to BC mining when in use and up to 99.5% when no other jobs are running. The thought is that all the PCs are on 24x7 anyway and consuming resources so why not allow them to be useful 24x7 as well and generate bitcoins which can then be sold to offset the electrical costs of the running equipment and/or possibly even make a little profit. The guy with the idea says its a no-lose situation as if the price of bitcoins drops to below a certain level and is no longer a financially viable option, we simply stop the mining process. I'm curious what the Slashdot community thinks of this? " Read on for a few more details.

Supp0rtLinux continues, Is it viable? Would we generate enough revenue to cover our electrical costs even with CPUs running at 100% utilization all evening? Are there any security risks? Any thoughts on network impact? The consensus is that the proposal sounds good, but no one has enough info to make a knowledgeable decision either way. As a follow-up question and one that came up after the initial proposal, this entire idea has us wondering why the botnet/malware guys aren't doing this already? It would seem like a trivial task to take a botnet of hijacked PCs and have them do BC mining instead of spreading more malware and generate real revenue for the owner's of the botnets wouldn't it?

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Ask Slashdot: Enterprise Bitcoin Mining For Go-Green Initiatives?

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  • by Macfox (50100) * on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @10:55AM (#43291989) Homepage

    Why not ask this guy? Seemed to work out well for him.

    http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/secret-money-abc-virtual-currency-racket-probe-20110623-1ggp6.html [smh.com.au]

    On a serious note. If it were viable, the practice would be wide spread. The serious miners have moved onto purpose built hardware.

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/12/05/2242233/race-to-mine-bitcoins-drives-enthusiasts-into-the-chip-making-business [slashdot.org]

    • Green schmene (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sarysa (1089739) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:31AM (#43292569)
      Anyone else notice that this question is being asked during a massive bubble period [bitcoincharts.com], and what is necessary to prop up a bubble is public awareness? Just like my post just now is shamefully unrelated to its parent, might the true purpose of this Ask Slashdot be to bring in a few more suckers before it crashes down to 15 or 20?

      I will admit my biases against Bitcoin and my post history speaks to this, but this is a tactic also used to prop up stocks and precious metals. So yeah, I'm calling out TFS.
      • by shaitand (626655)
        I wouldn't speculate on Bitcoin... or anything else for that matter. Speculation is gambling and 80% of speculators lose money while only 20% win. The problems you are talking about with bubbles and suckers apply to the stock market just as well as Bitcoin speculation. Which isn't to say that the current price is (entirely) a bubble. There have been a lot of recent developments in the bitcoin world to stoke the flames that indicate solid changes in supply and demand that explain a huge upward movement. Bitc
      • Re:Green schmene (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:40PM (#43293475)

        I'd like to add to this something I've seen others point out before.

        Bitcoin's Blockchain grows exponentially larger with time. [blockchain.info]

        In 2 years it went from about 200mb to 6gb.

        I'll rough-graph this exponential growth to show you clearly what it means [google.com] At around 10 years you're talking about a 100gb file sitting on the drives of every bitcoin user. At 20 years that 100gb file is now over 4tb. In 30 years that's 9tb. And so on, you can read a graph.

        The blockchain is a fundamental aspect of the bitcoin, you can't just start truncating it. It will grow like this forever. Bitcoin will eventually grow so large that it is impractical for even the most diehard of virtual currency enthusiast. The only way to keep it functional is to assume massive advances in technology or that everyone is going to move to cloud based bitcoin banking, letting a third party company do all the processing and blockchain storage. At that point bitcoin would be as equally regulated as any other currency rendering the entire point of bitcoin useless.

        The reality here is that bitcoin is an intentionally manufactured bubble. Anyone that understands math and has a reasonable grasp of how large a terabyte actually is can easily see this if they look past the near blinding glamour that the bitcoin proponents toss out to distract you from the truth.

        Another point to consider is that bitcoin is not a stable currency. It swings up and down very wildly in value. This is fine if you treat it like an investment akin to trading the Forex markets, but it's pretty terrible not knowing from day to day how many bitcoins it takes to fill your gas tank. If you do get involved with bitcoin be prepared to exit at any time or you risk losing everything. Enron was also a fantastic investment for early adopters. [24x7support.biz]

        • Re:Green schmene (Score:4, Insightful)

          by letherial (1302031) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @02:34PM (#43294613)

          Couple of problems with your logic

          1. bitcoins are finite, there will only be so many made
          2. the block chain is not ran by any central authority, the worst the evil governments could do is put it in the blackmarket, but hey, its already the currency of the blackmarket. I could right now take cash, turn it to moneypack and then turn it into bitcoins, not one person would know what i did. I could also take bitcoins, turn it into cash and have it sent to my doorstep through the ever reliable mail system. Its a virtual concept, not one that can be just shut down.
          3. if rich people are using it to hide there money, then it wont get be attacked all that much.

          While i am not as cool as everyone else and able to fortune tale the fate of bitcoins, I do agree that it is a volatile market, i wouldnt invest to much in it, i watched it crash more then 10 dollars in 5 hours; However, i dont think its going anywhere, far to many people use it to do things they shouldnt, and well we could argue about those shouldnt do things and the morality of it, it doesn't matter, despite your feelings, it will be done anyways.

        • Re:Green schmene (Score:4, Interesting)

          by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy DOT Lakeman AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @07:19PM (#43297919)

          The entire block chain contains all of the history of every piece of every coin. But to mine coins, and validate new blocks you don't really need to keep the entire history locally to validate new transactions, you only need to keep the details of transactions that haven't been consumed in another transaction. That's the sole purpose of the log anyway.

          Sure the whole log should remain available online somewhere, but even that could be stored in a distributed way. The log itself is essentially tamper proof, since you can verify every single hash and signature if you want to.

          While the total number of coins has a finite limit, each coin can be split into a huge number of transactions. Even when the active set of transactions grows too large, there will be solutions to improve the scalability of the system.

          These are all solvable problems. There just hasn't been a pressing need to solve them yet.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      "all the PCs are on 24x7 anyway and consuming resources..."

      They may start consuming a lot more resources if you max out their CPUs.

      Think: If bitcoins were worth more than the electricity they need to make them then there'd be big players in the game.

      • by mea_culpa (145339) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:04PM (#43293033)

        This.

        Connect a Kill A Watt [p3international.com] and compare your energy usage under full and idle loads.
        My PC consumes about 60W idle and 250W under full load.
        10 years ago it would make sense to use spare clock cycles for side projects, today not so much.

      • by shaitand (626655)
        Bitcoins are definitely worth a LOT more than the electricity needed to make them. At least with GPU/FPGA/ASIC mining. I don't know if it is true of CPU's anymore.

        There aren't more big players in the game because the Bitcoin economy was too small to worth bothering with for a big player. Now it is starting to get there. Plus, there is a severe shortage of the hardware needed to mine. Large companies can't just generate it out of air, if there are no ASICs or suitable GPU's to be had there are none to be had
      • by Pope (17780) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:43PM (#43294085)

        This is the most laughable aspect of the damn article: he wants to run a ton of computers at full blast to "go green." Last I checked, the utility company doesn't take BitCoins as payment.

    • by ElizabethGreene (1185405) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @01:44PM (#43294093)

      Unless your HPC cluster includes large numbers of FPGAs or GPUs, you'll be quite disappointed at the performance. If you do have GPUs then it depends on the integer operation performance of the chips. As a real world example, my 1 year old mid-range CPU mines at around 1Kh/second. The two $100 video cards in the box mine at 180Kh/s each. The $1500 Asic miners I bought last month mine at 60Gh/s each.

      CPU based mining is not worth the power required to mine it and manage the heat.

  • Unlikely. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jythie (914043) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @10:58AM (#43292027)
    From what I have gathered, mining via CPUs is, at this point, not cost effective. It eats more power then it produces in bitcoins. The OP would probably get a better economic result by letting the computers go to sleep.
    • From what I have gathered, mining via CPUs is, at this point, not cost effective.

      They aren't even close to being cost effective any more. Two years ago this would have been a good plan, but now even the best general purpose CPUs are three technological generations behind the state of the art.

    • Most of the mining software will use the GPU to do it now, so if they all have a hardy video card it could still be cost effective.
    • And no AV scans or backups. Unfortunately, not an option for our org but thanks for the info. Any resources or public data available for figuring out the value of BC mining? I've looked but can't find any...
      • And no AV scans or backups. Unfortunately, not an option for our org but thanks for the info. Any resources or public data available for figuring out the value of BC mining? I've looked but can't find any...

        Wake on lan? Wake by BIOS clock (scheduled)?

      • Re:Unlikely. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by n7ytd (230708) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:23AM (#43292419)

        And no AV scans or backups. Unfortunately, not an option for our org but thanks for the info. Any resources or public data available for figuring out the value of BC mining? I've looked but can't find any...

        Would it not make sense to alter your AV scan and backup scripts to do their thing, then put the machines to sleep afterwards?

        If the goal is truly to "go green", using less electricity is the only way. If you're not looking to go green, but are instead looking to offset some of the money that you're spending now on electricity, turning the machines off will be orders of magnitude more effective than trying to offset the cost by mining and selling BitCoins.

        Plus, running 18,000 desktop machines at 100% will put an extra heat load on your HVAC systems, which aren't free to run from either environmental or monetary costs.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Would it not make sense to alter your AV scan and backup scripts to do their thing, then put the machines to sleep afterwards?

          If the goal is truly to "go green", using less electricity is the only way. If you're not looking to go green, but are instead looking to offset some of the money that you're spending now on electricity, turning the machines off will be orders of magnitude more effective than trying to offset the cost by mining and selling BitCoins.

          Plus, running 18,000 desktop machines at 100% will p

      • by gmack (197796)

        There are more power save states than just sleep. Most modern processors have the option to to reduce speed when idle, saving power. The same goes for the PCIe bus, and even some video cards if you run the machine full out mining bitcoins you will use extra electricity.

        Personally, I would attach a power meter to one machine and compare the difference and have a look at whether it mines more value in bitcoins than the extra electricity it consumes during the process.

        • by N1AK (864906)
          This. It isn't rocket science to work out how much extra power would be required and what the BitCoin mining return is worth. I have my doubts that it'll be cost effective, and am nearly certain that finding a way to lower power use instead would be better, but there's no need to guess when testing would be easy.
    • Having seen a server demo with 3 10 core Xeon processors do raytrace rendering ( like Monsters Ink ) the idle power is just over 100 Watts. Full load 60 threads running is a little over a KW. If BC is ramping idle machines, you will have a power requirement to support it.

      Server was similar to this one but three processor..
      HP ProLiant DL980 G7 E7-4870 2.4GHz 10 Core 4p Server

    • Why can't bitcoin mining do something with some knowledge value, like Seti@home tries to do? It seems that bitcoins base a currency on wasting energy. Which would seem to be contrary to the principles of a "Green" organization.

  • Go Green (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @10:59AM (#43292037)

    For a Go-Green initiative, maybe you should consider turning 18,000 computers off over night.

    • Re:Go Green (Score:5, Funny)

      by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:04AM (#43292135) Journal

      You misunderstood. "Go Green", as in mining bitcoins, each worth 75 greenbacks.

    • Re:Go Green (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:07AM (#43292195)

      "Lets go green by making all of our always on 18,000 desktops run at full load at all times."

      Makes sense to me.

    • Trust me I would like to. In fact, in our ESX environment we do turn vmotion VMs and turn off servers each evening to save power in the datacenter. However, for desktops and to meet requirements, etc we are required to have them on for the AV scans and backups, as well as automated Windows Updates.
      • For the desktops. Why not use the wake-on-lan feature of most of the current bios? You can then wake up your computer when the AV or the Backup need them...

      • > we are required to have them on for the AV scans and backups, as well as automated Windows Updates.

        I was under the impression this is what wake-on-lan functionality is for. Maybe your machines don't support this?

      • by dave420 (699308)
        As others have stated, the only serious way to be green in this situation is to use Wake-on-LAN. Just schedule certain computers to wake up, scan and backup, and then turn off. Do it in batches to ease possible network congestion or power spikes, and you're good to go. Even better, you can schedule the computers to wake before work starts so people don't even know anything has changed. Problem solved. Running every computer 24/7 is simply going to chew up energy.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Go-Green initiative: An institutional process to convince the public that the institution isn't destroying the environment and doesn't have to significantly change their behavior.

  • Unless you are getting your electricity at extraordinarily low costs, close to free, the increase in your electric bill will exceed the revenue you can bring in by an order of magnitude or two.

    Even if all your computers had the best ATI graphics card that you could use to mine with it you'd be lucky to break even.

  • by SeanBlader (1354199) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:00AM (#43292057)
    I bet your company ends up with a noticeably higher electricity bill, more so than you'd recover in bitcoins. I ran Seti@Home for a month on a single gaming grade system and my electricity bill jumped a staggering amount. But, I'd love to hear if I was wrong.
    • Form what I understand no one can mine bitcoins cost effectively anymore, except for custom built systems.

      It is a guarantee that they would put orders of magnitude more money into the project then they would get out.

      And in no scenario would this ever of been green.

    • I bet your company ends up with a noticeably higher electricity bill, more so than you'd recover in bitcoins. I ran Seti@Home for a month on a single gaming grade system and my electricity bill jumped a staggering amount. But, I'd love to hear if I was wrong.

      Let's say you're turning your screen off, and the delta between your tower sitting in sleep mode vs working balls-to-the-wall is about 400 watts. I think that's a gross overestimate since the GPU is mostly idle, but it's a strawman.

      0.4 kW x 20 hours pe

  • not green (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:01AM (#43292071)

    This might be financially feasible, but it is NOT green. Bitcoin mining *uses* more power, and does not produce anything "tangible", meaning something that offsets the use of energy elsewhere.

  • Your issue is that you'll have to mine bitcoin when it's not economically sound to do so in order to have bitcoin available to trade when they are worth something. Good luck selling that idea to the beancounters.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:03AM (#43292117) Journal

    As far as I know, mining bitcoins is extremely CPU intensive. So unless the bitcoins will be spent on planting trees (or something...), the increase in the electric bill due to the increased CPU power dissipation (more electricity to feed the CPU and more electricity to cool it) makes things less green, not more.

    But maybe a new definition of "green" is used here? Such as... "profit"?

  • Some Thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:04AM (#43292129) Journal
    Okay, frankly, I don't see the "Go-Green" aspect of this. Maybe I'm missing something here -- was that joke to make it sound eco friendly but actually reflecting the color of money? I'm lost as to how this would be environmentally friendly as opposed to your current situation unless that extra money is going to subsidize your enterprise using renewable energy or something ...

    One, it's a great idea and even if you don't move forward with this plan I think it's important to give the employee kudos for suggesting something new. If everyone came up with a half crazy/half ingenious idea you'd be able to try out a lot of innovative stuff. That said, I think there's some underlying costs you should evaluate up front: there needs to be an administrator for the Bitcoin mining software, (I assume you know this but) your electrical bill should rise up a bit to reflect the increased power draw when your cluster is crunching numbers and there needs to be a way to record any incidences where you think the BTC software ran into the day or inhibited a normal work related job on the server. That shouldn't be a deal breaker, just have a system in place to assess those monetary incursions on your business. It may also require you to do some interesting tax claims as you might "earn" so many bitcoins that your accounting department has to start including it on an asset sheet so that the books stay legal. I'm not an expert in this.

    Something that is important is that the sooner you get this up and running, the better. Read up on the distribution of bitcoins to understand what I mean [wikipedia.org].

    Is it viable? Would we generate enough revenue to cover our electrical costs even with CPUs running at 100% utilization all evening?

    Probably? The real problem is the volatility of BTC on trades and, if you become a major reserve of BTC, you would likely have difficulties realizing your USD valuations of BTC in one swift action. One day it could make sense and the next day it could be a bust all based on whether MtGox was hacked or some major holder cashed out. How exactly did you plan on evaluating these holdings?

    Personally, I wouldn't do this. I'd take a more entrepreneurial approach and attempt to lease CPU time to new customers. I know this practice has grown less profitable as people have been better equipped to set up their own clusters but what you might do is look into software that rents out your cluster by the hour and then seek out customers. As far as I know you can only expect a couple cents an hour per core on something like that but it slowly adds up. Plus, it's a little more legit and on the level.

    Another idea is to lease this downtime as CPU usage to a local university or high school or something and, whether they use it or not, you might be able to write off some of that donated time and save a little money on taxes or at least build good will.

    As a follow-up question and one that came up after the initial proposal, this entire idea has us wondering why the botnet/malware guys aren't doing this already? It would seem like a trivial task to take a botnet of hijacked PCs and have them do BC mining instead of spreading more malware and generate real revenue for the owner's of the botnets wouldn't it?

    I'm not an expert in this but I'm pretty sure the answer is simple: when a botnet is up, it takes commands instead of issuing information back to the command and control. The idea behind a botnet is more frequently to control millions of random desktops from one central point. If botnets phone home with a new wallet or information, you run the risk of being traced more easily, being detected more easily and also DDOSing yourself if your botnet gets out of hand. That's my suspicion anyway. I'm sure some do do this, they probably just can't get very large.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Supp0rtLinux (594509)
      Thanks valuable insight here. I would mod you up if I could...
    • The biggest problem I have with bitcoin is that it is based on wasted effort. Unless we find out one day that bitcoin was all a scam to get the internets to break some magical encryption scheme for some interested party, all the effort spent "mining" bitcoins has literally been thrown away. The same energy spent mining bitcoins could have been spent folding proteins. But instead of bitcoins being tied to some useful processing in that fashion, they are based on waste. Bitcoins are inherently wasteful, and t

  • Using more CPU = using more power
    So this is not really green

  • by Digital_Quartz (75366) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:05AM (#43292157) Homepage

    The one thing that jumps out at me immediately is that, for almost any modern computer, a computer which is powered up but otherwise idle is going to draw less power than a computer which is mining bitcoins. If you want to use GPU mining (and, realistically, if you don't, this is probably a waste of time since you'll probably never mine any bitcoins) then I think you'll find the power draw from a mining machine is substantially higher than that of an idle machine.

    So, what you need to do is work out your idle power consumption (with, say, a Kill-A-Watt meter), then work our your fully-loaded power consumption (preferably by trying to mine some bitcoins, but you could get a reasonable quick estimate by firing up a modern 3D game), work out the delta, which is your effective power consumption for mining, and then use one of the various calculators out there (e.g. http://www.bitcoinx.com/profit/ [bitcoinx.com]) to decide if this is a profitable venture for you or not.

    • Actually, I will mention that here in Ontario, larger organizations get their electricity on HOEP pricing (https://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/hoep.asp). HOEP basically stays at a fixed market rate, provided that electricity demand is close to projected electricity demand. When demand differs from projections, the price fluctuates. You can get the current price off their website, updated in realtime.

      If demand is too high, the price goes up, and if demand is lower than expected, the price goes down (bec

  • Bitcoin mining right now is barely profitable using GPUs, and has been a complete waste on the CPU for over a year.

    Just because the machines are on 24/7, you cannot add load to them without increasing their electrical consumption. I have a desktop that idles around 80W, and under full load can reach 400W. And don't forget, every watt a computer uses means one more watt of heat that needs to be removed.

    The desktops, unless you have gaming-level GPUs in them, aren't going to turn a profit just on the electric

  • by RayHahn (454772) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:09AM (#43292223)

    Get a "Kill-O-Watt" for about $20. Test a PC at idle. Then load up the bitcoin processes, and test again. You will indeed find that the PC is drawing considerably more power under load than at idle. Multiply the increase in wattage by the number of hours in a month, then by the number of PCs you're talking about, and then divide by 1000 to get the increase in kilowatt hours. Multiply that by your cost of power per KWh.

    Then go read how increasingly impossible it's becoming to mine coins, and how you'll have a very difficult time getting one.

    Then don't do it.

  • by anyaristow (1448609) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:14AM (#43292289)

    You leave 18K systems on 24/7 so you can do a once-per-week virus scan and a twice per week backup? Really?

  • by gQuigs (913879) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:18AM (#43292345) Homepage

    You mention SETI in the post, but why not pick some distibuted projects that are useful to your company to help push the research forwards? Most big companies want to find ways to improve their public image, this is a great way to do it.

    There are many options: https://boinc.berkeley.edu/projects.php [berkeley.edu]

    If you don't already you should look into getting a special deal for power consumption at night. It should cost much less than powering on in the daytime. In fact, if you could have your system off in the daytime and only run it at night you could likely get really good deals in certain electric markets.

  • Your competition is botnets, they consume no power to their owners and the return is hard to beat. Your far better off from a financial stand point to put those computers to sleep. Your also running against bit coins becoming always harder to make with time. Bottom line is that the cost of making them is more than the return. That is why botnets will free to make them, they aren't paying the costs.

  • by vvaduva (859950) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:29AM (#43292535)

    You are better off powering off all the unused machines at night and saving your company quite a bit of money.

  • I never understand the appeal of bitcoins. All transactions are basically public information subject to any number of statistical methods to develop profiles of user activity over time. Your local paper currency still wins out big in the areas of privacy and legitimacy nor is it clear that governments would actually continue to tolerate the usage of bitcoin if it ever popped its head out of the ashes of irrelevance without subjecting it to at least the same rules as normal currency. Perhaps this is unlik

    • by AdmV0rl0n (98366)

      I see the attraction.
      The currency is global, which means that unlike some things (paypal) I might be able to do things with people in some countries that could not happen before.
      Its breaking the ice and allowing anyone to barter goods or services in exchange for coin.
      Its not really monitored by government yet/or heavily - and as such it has certain nice features.

      The downside, is that it can and is being used for illegal things. An Iranian man can pay for a server outside Iran. This may be illegal to the zea

  • When CPUs go idle, they consume less power. By keeping them pegged at full capacity, you're using more power, not the same amount. I'm not even sure how this is green at all, ignoring the whole Bitcoin angle.

  • Bitcoin miners use GPUs, which are orders or magnitude better than CPUs at Bitcoin mining. Unless your server has a high-end GPU in it, you will probably get nowhere (even assuming that the underlying idea is sound, which it is not for reasons pointed out by other posters).

    • Bitcoin miners use GPUs, which are orders or magnitude better than CPUs at Bitcoin mining.

      Miners are moving to ASICs, which are an order of magnitude more efficient than the FPGAs they replace which were already an order of magnitude more efficient than GPU mining.

      GPU mining was how things were done a year ago, but in terms of the speed at which Bitcoin is evolving "last year" means "back in ancient times".

  • by hawks5999 (588198) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:31AM (#43292579)
    If this is your "Go Green" initiative, you either don't understand Bitcoin mining or "Go Green" means something different than most would assume.
  • by AdmV0rl0n (98366) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:35AM (#43292649) Homepage Journal

    I've done some testing. I tried to create conditions for success.

    1. I had handy an M18 R2 - with dual 7970s.
    2. I work a lot of hours and my kit is used by my employer. In trade off I use some juice for testing.
    3. CPU bitcoining is worthless - just forget about it totally. Anyone telling you that only high power GPUs, FPGAs or ASICs offer a return are correct, and thats before ever discussing power.
    4. I am vaguly able to generate 0.05 BTCs a day in test conditions. This currenty equates to 1/20th of a bitcoin per day, so 20 days would get me around $75.

    Notes: At current rates, it will take 400 days to recover the cost of the laptop - assuming power was free, which it is not. Power draw is not far off a nasty P4 desktop box - but daya by day 24/7 I don't like the look of the power costs.

    ASICs and FGPAs seem to be full of start ups, and small companies offering various now and future hardware and G/hs rates. These offer performance that will - as far as I can see eliminate GPUs in the near future, and make BTC mining the home of specialist miners only. Which is perhaps where it needs to go given the silly power required now on commodity hardware for minimalist return.

    I can't really equate this being green, in any way, no matter how I cut it. I think the idea is to cut your power use, not get creative in trying to generate money of silly power usage.

    I think previously, some crazy folks might have been able to make large btc mining operations on commodity hardware - I think its moved away from that now. At least where I live, and with energy costs what they are.

    And the figures now are not what they were, when BTCs fell to 2$ - its fairly scary to see the loss basis if you make assumtions of hardware costs/ profit. For me, it has to be hobbyist mining, and with no direct aim 'to make' money.

    If someone else buys your hardware for you; and if someone pays your power costs and colling / air con costs - then on the surface money could be made... but its a mirage really. Someone has to pay

  • by Dishwasha (125561) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:36AM (#43292663)

    I'd recommend looking at the World Community Grid [worldcommunitygrid.org] and BOINC [berkeley.edu]. You can pick any number of projects to contribute resources to from solving clean water problems to finding a cure for AIDS to processing massive antennae data sets to detect asteroids that may be on a collision path with earth.

  • Bitcoins are currently trading around $75.

    Until the imminent pop, at which point all those bitcoins you were hanging on to because they were going up uP UP! are now worth squat, and there's still a giant power bill to pay.

    • by nu1x (992092)

      Really ? I doubt they can lose much value at all, being a deflationary currency, save for total protocol/algorithm compromise.

      Value of currency is in the eye of the users, and people are using it more and more (really ! the drug scare is just a tiny tip of the iceberg of all BTC transactions).

      FWIW

      • Of course I meant "worth" as in "current cash-out value." The OP was suggesting mining only when the cash-out value is high enough, but that could only even possibly work if they cash out IMMEDIATELY upon getting any amount of coin. Otherwise, they risk holding on to their funbux based on the assumption that they can cash them out at X amount, and then X suddenly drops well below their "we shouldn't have been mining" threshold, which is incidentally calculated in USD because that's what the power company et

  • Assuming this is about money and not the environment... Bitcoin has been mostly off my radar, so I went back to the original paper [bitcoin.org] describing the system. A very important aspect is this:

    As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they'll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers.

    If you can get enough CPUs together to break that requirement, then you'll be able to make some real money.

    • If you can get enough CPUs together to break that requirement, then you'll be able to make some real money.

      And just how many CPUs would you need to calculate 30 trillion SHA256 hashes per second?

      • by Beorytis (1014777)
        Shhh... don't tip him off.
    • Or you could instead use your powers for good and destroy the entire thing.

  • Additionally, we would setup a queue in our HPC that dedicates 30% to BC mining when in use

    You need to get it straight, in your head, about what you're trying to do.

    When you're talking about a "nice -n 20 ionice -c 3" job (or its equiv in whatever OS you're using) the idea is that there are some resources being used over time, which happen even when the processor is idle and are independent of power. As an extreme example, if you have to have a thousand computers, then you need to have a building for the

  • "Go-green."

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Ignore Bitcoin (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Khyber (864651)

    Go Litecoin, or Namecoin, or something else that will become a competitor to Bitcoin.

    In the end, it's all virtual currency anyways, even the US Dollar (which is a fiat currency, and thus essentially virtual.)

    • by KnightMB (823876)

      Go Litecoin, or Namecoin, or something else that will become a competitor to Bitcoin.

      In the end, it's all virtual currency anyways, even the US Dollar (which is a fiat currency, and thus essentially virtual.)

      Add Timekoin [timekoin.org] in there as well. It takes a total opposite approach to digital currency that minimizes CPU usage while providing a lot better protection than Bitcoin in terms of double spending and wild spikes in prices.

  • In a former career, I had loaded idle-time cancer research software on our office machines. I had permission from the manager to do so. One of our employees was offended because she had a family friend die of cancer and she didn't want to be reminded of cancer. The app was only a tray icon to her. It made no sense that she wanted this removed from her computer but I complied. It also made no sense to me how the cigarette breaks she took every other hour didn't remind the bitch of cancer either. No, she wasn

  • by mattr (78516) <.mattr. .at. .telebody.com.> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:23PM (#43293277) Homepage Journal

    I was wondering about whether computing resources could be donated and you get a tax break. Found this related thread.
    http://boinc.berkeley.edu/dev/forum_thread.php?id=7201 [berkeley.edu]
    Key is as others have mentioned that your resources are most likely using minimum power when idle and increasing use will increase electrical fees, air conditioning fees, and might I suppose also wear them out sooner if it uses disk space.
    Also imagined you might have enough scale to sell elastic computing services but there is a competitive market for that too.

  • by Formorian (1111751) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:57PM (#43293653)

    it's not worth it. And as more ASIC"s hit the market, GPU's will become unviable to make back what you spend in electricity. As it is, it's getting close to that point with FPGA's already out last year using much less watt per mh/s.

    You PC idle is prolly 200-300. And again only the AMD gpu's are good at BTC mining. Nvidia stink and most intels don't have openCL and stink even worse then nvidia.

    You also have to think about heat. Running full load over night if the machines are near each other is going to create lots and lots of heat. Your AC system may kick on when it never did before over night. Causing even more electricity to be used.

    You'll spend more in electricity then you make back.

    Just put them to sleep for like 6 hrs each night and you'll save a ton.

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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