Mining is currently the main way of cryptocurrency emission, starting with BTC. It is a certain amount of computations performed by a computer with a proven result. For adding a new blockchain, the user receives a reward in the form of a certain amount in cryptocurrency.
As a rule, the work consists of solving systems of complex equations which are generated by the blockchain, that contains information about all the transactions. The goal of the miner is to get the solution first, only in this case you can claim the prize.
Of course, the key point is primacy in solving the problem, so miners enter into an implicit competition with each other. To have any chance of success in this competition, it is important to use a platform that is fast enough. Technically, a mining platform is nothing more than a computing machine with all the essential components:
- optional GPU;
- RAM and ROM;
- power source.
However, as technology advances, miners began to use more specialized equipment to mine crypto. It allows them to use each unit of expended energy more efficiently. Let’s take a look at the main options for such equipment.
Cryptomining machines based on ASIC and FPGA
ASIC is a special purpose integrated scheme, which is an electronic chip adapted to solve a strictly defined task. In our case, this task is cryptocurrency mining by solving systems of complex equations. The schemes for mining certain currencies are developed with full consideration of the peculiarities of the process.
An ASIC-based mining machine is a very expensive treat, but the investment can be justified, because it is much more efficient than solutions based on CPUs and GPUs. The disadvantage of a specialized chip is the flip side of its advantage, i.e. the specialization itself. Such a machine is not suitable for any other task.
FPGA-based mining machine
An FPGA is a user programming gate array. Like an ASIC, this scheme is programmed to mine a specific cryptocurrency, whether bitcoin or another unit. The key difference between an FPGA and an ASIC is that the gate array is reprogrammable.
Bear in mind that, although the name implies user programming, the average user is unlikely to be able to do it – serious training and specific skills are required.
Comparison of FPGA and ASIC-based mining machines
Historically, ASIC-based solutions appeared earlier and have already managed to prove themselves in the best way. At the same time, FPGA is not unreasonably considered by the majority of people to be the new word in mining, which incorporates the advantages of previous solutions, neglecting their disadvantages. To find out which method is better, let’s compare them according to the main parameters:
- User comfort. The ASIC leads in this parameter – once configured, it doesn’t require any intervention. The FPGA, on the other hand, requires tuning before it can be used. To cope with this task it is necessary to have engineering knowledge.
- Flexibility. The FPGA is the undisputed leader here, providing maximum flexibility and adaptability of use, because it has the ability to be programmed, as compared to the ASIC, which is strictly limited for specific operations. FPGA can be reprogrammed, if necessary, for mining another cryptocurrency, as well as for fundamentally different tasks (if the mining “did not work out”).
- Energy efficiency. Although gate arrays are a more advanced and modern solution, specialized integrated schemes keep the advantage in terms of energy efficiency, i.e. the number of operations per unit of electricity consumed. It is recommended to mine cryptocurrencies with the help of ASIC, mining which is energy-intensive, such as BTC. However, FPGA, even losing to ASIC, is more energy efficient compared to traditional conventional and graphical processors
- Cost. Despite the progressiveness of FPGAs, they are more affordable than ASIC-based solutions. It is obvious if we talk about the purchase price. But in the long run, ASIC owners come out on a positive side at the expense of energy efficiency. If the principle issue is a cheap start, you will have to abandon specialized solutions altogether, giving preference to CPU and GPU.
Conclusions – which mining solution is better
There is no single answer to this question: the decision should be based on the specific circumstances. So ASIC is preferable if you intend to mine one particular cryptocurrency for a long time. But the machines based on the gate array are more adaptive – it is possible not only to change the object of mining, but even to change the field of activity. ASIC does not give such an opportunity, and if we talk about its high cost, the conclusion is evident.
In any case, it is necessary to take into account the fact that mining of some cryptocurrency assets with specialized solutions is impossible in principle, for example, Monero belongs to such. If you want to know more, follow updates on our website.