In April, I wrote a bit about Chia, the newly introduced cryptocurrency that uses allocated free space on storage devices rather than intensive calculations on specialized processors to generate cryptocurrency. Conventional cryptocurrency mining, often done using GPUs, consumes large amounts of power and has been characterized as unfriendly. In May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as a payment method because he said it was too harsh on the environment.
Chia cryptocurrency mining does not require large amounts of energy to generate its cryptocurrency. According to the Chia Business Whitepaper (March 1, 2021 version), proof of work in Bitcoin uses around 87 TW-hours per year as of December 2020. Chia’s proof of space and time model is to delete data on a storage device, then calculating a “plot” or block for Chia that is written to the storage space. Chia uses an agricultural rather than mining analogy for the way its coins are generated.
Written storylines then sit down and wait for another generated storyline in the Chia universe to match one of the existing storylines, releasing a Chia coin. The odds of such a match are equal to your share of the total Chia farming network space. The result of this plotting and farming process uses much less energy, but it uses digital storage space.
Chia plots are typically generated using SSDs as they can generate the plots quickly and then the plots, once created, are moved to hard drives for farming. Plowing and tracing the chia can take 6-7 hours for each plot. This can cause a lot of wear and tear on SSDs, especially low capacity consumer grade SSDs and therefore larger capacity enterprise class SSDs are recommended for this process. The hard drives used to grow Chia coins are generally large capacity consumer hard drives.
A fully complete 10TB hard drive can store approximately 90 standard Chia blocks, of 101.4 GiB each. The total network space increases with each additional Chia Farmer, and as a result the chances of earning coins decrease. Additionally, the amount of Chia Coins with each plot match will decrease over time.
SSDs should be replaced when they wear out, but Chia generates a lot of used hard drive storage space, which should be left with its traces when written. This has resulted in an increased demand for hard drives where the cultivated plots are located. As a result, the prices of hard drives have increased and some higher capacity hard drives are scarce. The figure below from Chia Explorer shows the size of the Chia netspace (in PiB) as of 06/29/21.
However, there are reports that the increase in demand for hard drives due to Chia is on the decline, and speaking with the people of Chia, they believe that there is a lot of underutilized digital storage in it. the world, especially in hard drives and long-term people go ‘I don’t want to buy new hardware for Chia mining.
In particular, many consumers only use about 20% of their total hard drive storage space. Additionally, many businesses and governments destroy their used digital storage devices even after they have been disinfected (with all data erased). If instead these storage devices could be written with Chia plots, it could be a much better use of these devices than destroying them.
Chia strives to get businesses to rely on the Chia cryptocurrency platform. The company hopes that over the next few months, major applications, carbon trading, and various other activities could use the Chia cryptocurrency.
Backblaze, a low-cost cloud storage provider recently said in a blog that an organization called Plottair approached Backblaze on building a SaaS offering storage services to farmers in Chia using Blackblaze B2 cloud storage. Plottair aims to help Chia farmers enter this large-scale market using cloud storage with a fully automated tracing service with optional cloud harvesting and multi-regional download locations.
Plottair had a tracing capacity of 50TB per day and a 30-day download window for customers. Their storage request led them to Backblaze to store completed plots which are then made available to customers for download.
The Chia cryptocurrency has led to an increase in demand for hard drives. However, in the long run, the use of underutilized hard drives and functioning storage devices that would otherwise be destroyed could allow the expansion of Chia cryptocurrency agriculture in the long run with less impact on demand. new drives and greater use of existing storage.