Mining the top cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum is a resource-intensive task that requires top-of-the-line computer hardware to eke out rewards. The recently-launched Chia (XCH) coin opts for a different kind of mining approach called “farming,” which relies on unused storage on your device to secure the network, rather than a powerful GPU.
That might seem like a more cost-effective way to mine cryptocurrency and turn a profit, but it still could prove very costly, very quickly. That’s because Chia mining has the potential to burn out solid state drives (SSDs) at a rapid pace, due to the constant writing demands on them.
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According to a report from MyDrivers (opens in new tab), an average consumer-grade 512GB SSD could be killed in as little as 40 days during the Chia farming process, with a 1TB SSD extending that tally to 80 days and a 2TB drive doubling it further to 160 days.
The reason for such potential SSD burnout is due to their built-in endurance capabilities. An average consumer SSD typically ships with a 600TBW (terabytes written) rating, our friends at Tom’s Hardware note (opens in new tab) — and for basic everyday use, that should provide years of reliable functionality. However, Chia farming may result in significantly increased strain on your storage, potentially trashing a typical SSD in a fraction of the time.
The Chia blockchain is built around a newly-developed “proof of space and time” (opens in new tab) consensus model used to verify transactions. Developed by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen, the system requires participants to reserve a certain amount of storage space that is “seeded” with cryptographic numbers into “plots.” Users can earn rewards in the form of the XCH token, with the price of a single coin currently hovering above $1,000 as of this writing, via CoinGecko (opens in new tab).
Fortunately, there are alternative solutions to mining that shouldn’t result in wrecked storage in a matter of weeks. For a start, there are more durable SSDs out there with higher TBW ratings, although they are typically much more expensive and designed for professional use and data centers.
TeamGroup has also recently launched the T-Create Expert PCIe SSD (opens in new tab), a drive with a 12,000TBW rating designed specifically for Chia farming and backed by a 12-year warranty. And if you don’t want to risk your own hardware, Amazon Web Services has opened up its cloud servers (opens in new tab) for XCH mining, at least in China.
The price of Chia has jumped more than 50% (opens in new tab) over the last week, as of this writing, which has likewise driven up the price of SSDs and hard disk drives (HDDs) as more and more people attempt to jump on the XCH mining bandwagon. It’s similar to the way that high-end graphics cards have been scarce and selling at a significant premium on secondary markets, due to increased demand from Bitcoin and Ethereum miners.
So, even if you think it’s worth the risk and potential expense of needing to replace your SSD in mere months, it could be difficult and/or pricey to actually find new stock if the Chia craze continues on unabated. Be mindful of what’s inside your rig before setting up plots.
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