Joining two worlds, Amiga and Bitcoin... Date: Saturday, December 09 2017 @ 15:55:47 UTC Topic: Amiga FPGA accelerator
Exactly 4 years ago I got an offer to make Bitcoin miner using FPGA and just for fun I did it using Vampire 600 V1 card and Amiga 600 as a base, showing pictures that it can work. For some strange reasons I decided that complete Bitcoin story wasn't for me at least as a person who is not regular user but developer. Lack of time, because I was digging deep into my Amiga projects was one of them. I was never prepared to leave my Amiga dreams and search for something else. Soon I have realized that my Amiga projects have no future because constant lack of money for research. Despite donations from various sides it was never enough and after lot of thinking in 2014. I made crucial decision to continue my Amiga journey as a developer but support Bitcoin idea as a regular user. With money earned from selling several Vampire 600 V1 cards I have got 9 Sapphire 280X cards and started to mine. Plan was simple, make economy for my Amiga projects who will be independent from banks, loans or donations and with recent events about Bitcoin complete Vampire development, production or anything related is financed like that. In this moment when I m writing this article just one Bitcoin cost over 15 000USD. That statement bring us back to the beginning of this story and makes me wonder how much I could earn by participating into Bitcoin story as a developer...
What is Bitcoin exactly? I won't bother explaining much just simple facts we need right now. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency based on SHA-256 hashing algorithm. It is decentralized digital currency without bank to control it. That says that middle man(bank) don't exist anymore. To simplify things, without middle man world as we know it can't survive, without taxes there is no country who could see another day. Who could blame Bitcoin users, well people finally have opportunity to OWN their money.
Another aspect of this story is that every single Bitcoin user have encrypted data of any other user in peer-to-peer network like true decentralized system. Who could stop that?
Terminology to investigate before you continue to read: Blockchain, Bitcoin wallet, Miners, Blocks, Block reward, Difficulty adjustment, Proof-of-Work, Mining pools, Mining farms...
Yesterday I was interested to calculate how much money I could earn mining Bitcoins using one Vampire 500 V2 card so I have ported opensourced FPGA bitcoin mining core to it and started to investigate.
Final result was poor as expected. I could mine 0.00000577 Bitcoins per year or in today's value exactly 0.08552 USD, so not even 10 cents per year. In other words I would need 173 310 years to mine one Bitcoin. Let's get back once more, in 2013 with same equipment making 100MH/s I could mine 2.78 Bitcoins per year, or in today's value exactly 43,372.82 USD. Funny story says that in 2013. I had about 200 FPGA chips with working FPGA Bitcoin core, but let's not make further calculations it would force me to drink some funny pills to calm down. You get the picture. So what changed is that more miners with strongest hardware increased difficulty to mine. Right question now is who can mine Bitcoins now. Simple answer is no one. Without serious equipment, ASIC based miners, loads of them, you can't do anything. Bitcoin mining is now reserved only for mining farms who costs millions and millions of dollars. Back in 2014. I was unable to directly mine Bitcoins with my GPU equipment it was that hard. Where is the trick you may wonder.
Bitcoin isn't only cryptocurrency there is more than 10 000 of others and by mining them you can earn lot more. All of them have their own developers, supporters, communities, goals and usability and most important own economy. Some of them are used just for paying for games, others are created for renting cars, rooms, buying food... Mark my words, soon every single serious company will have their own cryptocurrency based on theirs name and used as a payment method for their products. Why, because there is no middle man, because it is secured, safe and damn fast! By speaking about other cryptocurrencys we can also say one important thing they are not based on same hashing algorithm as Bitcoin(SHA-256) there are the others like scrypt, blake, equihash, keccak and many many more. With this I m able to get Bitcoins not directly but by mining other coins because tiny portion of Bitcoins mined by mining farms is always invested in other coins who have promising future and innovative ideas. Economy of others is also ensured by direct investments in fiat money. Mining other coins is much easier because difficulty is much lower than on Bitcoin. That says that just by using one Vampire card for mining I can earn lot more by mining some other coin. Especially in the terms where only several people mine one coin. It can happen that in just one day with modest power you can do very good.
Ok so then why don't we make our own coin who will establish our own economy and who will be used for reviving Amiga.
In other words I could make my own coin and offer to sell Vampire cards only and only for that coin. Same time buying those coins on exchanges would ensure stable economy and bring investors from outside of Amiga land. Trick is in one thing called opensource.
Almost every crypto coin that exist is opensourced so everyone can see how is designed. This is very important because it gains trust in potential miners or investors. Opensourcing is good and bad thing. By presenting code to the masses they can understand hashing algorithm you used in your code and using high power devices like ASIC or GPU miners they can instantly destroy any potential value of the coin by creating many of them in short period of time and selling them over exchanges purely for instant profit. But again there is a trick, ASIC or GPU miners can't handle all algorithms yet so as long you use brand new algorithm or modified old one or even combination of several algorithms you are safe. By creating semi-opensource showing everything regarding coin parameters but hashing algorithm you can be protected. You can mine it with single CPU for years without much power.
MC68000 and crypto
As said not even modern processors can handle huge difficulty on Bitcoin and other popular coins. As tested on some retro hardware old processors don't stand a chance. But think it like this, coin who can be only mined with MC68X series of CPU. Again, power is not important because others can't enter. With minimum processor power you can mine blocks and get reward in coins who gain value because they are rare. They are rare because only people who owns retro hardware can join. They are the only ones who could participate and eventually create profit. Others will be forced to just buy those coins on the exchange. Yes, they could use emulators on their PC but that could be also limited with CPU detection routines. Limited but not removed as option because using emulators you will again gain interest for retro computers. Same time those who buy them are your investors. Why should anyone buy them? As my experience says, what is rare, new, innovative and with purpose is very interesting for investors in this crypto world. By creating new coin with new algorithm you are forcing mining farms out and that's exactly what new coin developers doing right now so why not do the same with MC68000. Bitcoin remains mainstream for big investors, we don't need to mess with it directly.
Just to mention there was something called Amigacoin but only connection with Amiga was in its name because it needed to be mine on X86 architecture. Imagine coin who could be mined only on Amiga.
Our position is much different, a lot better. In the situation where we can actually build specific instructions and create our own rules Apollo-core could be next best thing outperforming MC68K in our specific coin. Joining retro and crypto coins world could become reality with millions of potential users. Popularity of Amiga and everything that follows could rise because they are lot of newcomers who are always exploring. By creating specific coin for us we could ensure two way story, buying core from end user for personal profit. Right now we have more than 1000 users of Vampire accelerators and good starting point for this to happen. If we start talking about standalone system, Apollo-core based we could open new markets spreading power of Workbench towards mining community who is getting bigger and bigger each day.
In not so distant future everything that single person possess now regarding material stuff will worth 0.01 Bitcoins, those who have 0.10 will be rich. Other coins will eventually have same value Bitcoin have now so why not create our own and continue promoting Amiga in this new futuristic world.