Chia Crypto: Is It Truly a Greener Alternative to Bitcoin?

Join our community & learn for free
No Spams. Only heaps of sweet content and industry updates in the crypto space.

Bitcoin has had its share of detractors, ranging from Elon Musk to the New York Times. Critics complain about the power-hungry nature of its proof-of-work (PoW) mining. Mining is resource-intensive, with each Bitcoin transaction validation consuming 1,544 kWh or 53 days of power for the average household, according to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index. 

The Chia Network aims to revolutionize the crypto space, setting out a protocol for using storage space to replace blockchain validators. Let’s take a closer look at the Chia Network and its pioneering consensus algorithm, meant to operate without intensive energy consumption.

What Is Chia Network?

Chia Network is a blockchain and smart transaction platform that uses proof-of-space and proof-of-time to perform efficient transaction validation, called “farming,” powered by empty computer storage space allocated to “plots.” The idea is to create tokens based on free storage space, rather than processing performance. Chia Network trades under the symbol XGH, and its mainnet has been running since Friday, March 19, 2021.

Anyone with unused disk space can farm Chia by allocating disk space to plots, and only the initial “plotting” of the hard drive is time and resource-intensive. Chia proudly boasts a secure Nakamoto-style consensus algorithm, patterned upon Bitcoin’s launch in 2008. It verifies transactions without sacrificing decentralization and censorship resistance. Nakamoto Consensus refers to the process of verifying transactions on a blockchain. In short, it creates a computer network of independent, distributed nodes that can agree on transaction activity.

The Chia Network was founded by Bram Cohen, who also authored the BitTorrent protocol and file sharing program. And the native currency is XCH which can be farmed.

What Problems Does Chia Aim to Resolve?

Chia aims to solve the energy-intensive computing process of cryptocurrency transactions on other networks, which are typically verified using either proof-of-work or proof-of-stake consensus mechanisms. These methods usually require the collective computing power of miners, who are rewarded for their contributions. Chia’s environmentally friendly infrastructure promises to be greener, more decentralized, easier to audit, more energy-efficient, secure, and easier to use than those of other cryptocurrencies. 

Chia’s white paper cites three core issues it intends to resolve. The Chia Network focuses on addressing centralization issues while providing enhanced security against long-range attacks. It also addresses the inability of proof-of-stake networks to recover from 51% attacks

The cryptocurrency space receives a fair amount of backlash on its protocols regarding energy consumption. Just Ethereum mining alone, at an estimated 56.6 terawatt-hour (TWh), is equivalent to the carbon footprint of the entire country of Malta. 

The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI) estimates Bitcoin mining will reach 128 TWh before next year. If that’s true, Bitcoin and Ethereum mining will be using ten times as much electricity as Google, more than Norway as a whole, or 0.6% of the Earth’s total supply. The verification and recording of all global transactions come with a substantial carbon footprint.

The entire Chia Network consumes an average of 47,752 kilowatts (kW) as of July 19, 2021, based on the current netspace of 31.0 EiB. That’s a fraction of power compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum, which proves its efficiency with a much smaller carbon footprint.

How Is Chia Different from Bitcoin?

The most significant difference between the Chia cryptocurrency and Bitcoin is the transaction verification system on both networks. Bitcoin uses a proof-of-work mechanism in which miners contribute their computing power to solve complex mathematical problems and earn rewards, while Chia utilizes a proof-of-space-and-time (PoST) system that works by uploading data on empty computer storage space that involves completely normal hardware. It allows network participants to show they’ve been storing data over a period of time.

Simply put, the Chia network utilizes unused disk space for farming the token, instead of high-performance graphic cards and processors. Such a process is meant to cost a miner far less to mine Chia than Bitcoin. 

The Chia network has also recently announced that it can be farmed directly on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud servers. The network aims to make home-based mining feasible. Anyone with a computer, an internet connection, spare storage space, and sufficient CPU power can participate in farming. 

Reportedly, it takes as little as five minutes to farm Chia on AWS, after which the user can generate a crypto wallet address to which the farmed Chia coins are transferred. By not requiring significant hardware, this integration allows Chia to provide greater flexibility to its community of miners (farmers).

In contrast, Bitcoin miners need top-of-the-line hardware for mining. With little to no reliance on computing power, the Chia network doesn’t fall prey to the persistent global chipset supply shortage, which has been exacerbated by supply chain issues during the pandemic.

Furthermore, Bitcoin has a capped token supply of 21 million, which is a key feature. However, the Chia network favors predictable continuous inflation and argues that a “predictable amount” matters more than a fixed supply. 

How to Get an XCH Token

Since Chia’s mainnet is live, XCH can be either purchased or farmed.

Buying from Exchanges

Given the relatively recent launch of XCH, it is not necessarily available on all exchanges. The currency went public in April 2021. Traders can buy XCH using either the USDT-USD Tether coin, BTC, or ETH from major cryptocurrency or digital currency exchanges.

Building a Chia Farm

To start farming Chia, install the Chia software, configure it correctly, and then dedicate storage space to plots. 

To initiate the Chia mining process, all you need is a personal computer or laptop equipped with a collective computer power with a processor that has a clock speed of 1.5 GHz, 2 GB RAM, and a 1 TB solid-state drive (SSD). To create a Chia farm, the following components are required.

Processor

Intel’s Core i3, i5, and i7 (or any other processor with four cores) are suitable for farming Chia. A processor equipped with a graphics card provides additional storage and, though expensive, can be a better option.

Storage

The storage drive is the main component required for farming Chia. Ideally, storage drives can be either SSDs or hard disk drives (HDDs) that support a SATA III interface. It’s also useful to apply a combination of both SSDs and HDDs, with the former speeding up the graphic process and the latter enhancing the storage. An overall capacity of 300 GB or more of storage is preferred.

Motherboard

The motherboard should ideally also support SATA III and USB 3.0 ports, as well as a network controller capable of 1,000 Mbps. Having more ports allows more drives to be part of the system, while a faster internet connection provides better farming speed.

Power Supply

To supplement the SSDs and HDDs, a power supply of up to 500 watts is needed. It’s also important to choose a power supply having multiple SATA, Molex, and PCI connectors for connecting additional drives.

Installing the Chia Blockchain

The quickest way for most users to get started is to download and install the Chia software with a graphical user interface on Windows or Mac. Before you get started, make sure that any sleep or suspend settings are disabled. Plotting hard drive space to a Chia plot is an uninterruptible offline process that takes several hours. 

Chia’s consensus states that a fast computer will plot a 101.4 GiB k32 plot in roughly six hours, with a slow machine taking up to 24 hours to plot the same space. Sleep, suspend, and hibernation will interrupt plotting, and Chia doesn’t have a resume function yet. 

  • Download either the Windows or Mac Installer or visit the Chia Network’s Installation Wiki for Linux instructions
  • Run the graphical user interface for Chia
  • Create a wallet by selecting a new private key — keep a record of your 24-word key, as this is the only backup to your account if your computer fails 
  • Allow the blockchain to synchronize with the network, which can take an entire day on slower computers

If the power happens to go out or the process is otherwise interrupted, you’ll have to delete the temporary files and completely start over. 

Plotting Chia Plots

The most straightforward way for beginners to start plotting is to use the “Plots” feature straight from the Chia blockchain GUI. With just a few easy steps, the farmer can begin plotting storage space into a plot. As soon as the plot is created, the farmer is ready to receive a challenge and potentially win a reward.

  • Open the Chia Blockchain GUI
  • Select “Plots”
  • Select “Add Plot”
  • Unless you intentionally want to fill a hard drive (not recommended!), leave the default plot size of 101.4 GiB selected
  • Select the number of plots (plot in parallel if you’ve got temporary and fixed storage available)
  • Select a location for the temporary data (pick your fastest drive — SSD/NVMe SSD — or the storage-assigned Chia)
  • Select the final directory (this is the location where the farmers plan to store their plots, such as a large-capacity external hard disk drive)
  • Select “Create” and wait anywhere between six and 24 hours or more for plotting to complete

Every plot that the farmer has connected to the network has a chance of winning blocks and therefore being rewarded with Chia. A plot never needs to be deleted, and the more plots a farmer has, the higher their chances of completing the cryptographic block challenge and winning XCH. Even the largest storage arrays consume a negligible amount of power, making massive Chia farms a possibility without electricity consumption posing a problem. 

Mining and Farming Chia

The Chia Network installs software on your computer. It’s made up of a node that syncs the blockchain, a farmer which sends proof requests to the harvester (or harvesters), and a harvester (or harvesters) that evaluates plots to see if they have qualifying proof. 

The plot with the best proof wins a reward. After Chia is installed and synced with at least one plot created and ready, farming begins. As soon as you’ve created a plot, you’ll notice “Time to Win Coin” displayed in the farming tab. Keep in mind that this value is just an estimate.

The reward for farming one block is 64 Chia tokens, and the farming speed relies on the disk storage capacity of the user. Leave your Chia node running, and continue farming for as long as your machine is connected to the Chia Network blockchain. 

Chia Network Price History

Chia Crypto Price Chart

Chia is currently (July 23) trading at $179.61 with a market cap of over $150 million. There is a total supply of 21,514,760 XCH. After arriving at its all-time high of $1,934.51 on May 3, XCH’s price has been declining persistently amidst the crypto crackdown.

The Backlash

Though Chia is dubbed as the greener mining alternative, there are widespread concerns over the adoption of Chia, due to the large number of hard disk drives used in the farming process. Increased manufacturing of hardware would lead to high emissions and electronic waste. As an example, Chia farming can reduce the lifespan of a 512-GB hard drive from a decade to less than two months, which leads to a significant increase in e-waste.

Furthermore, as another side effect of Chia farming, HDD manufacturers Western Digital and Seagate have reported increased demand and subsequent shortage of hard disk drives and graphic cards. This has led to increased costs for these devices. In addition, German cloud storage provider Hetzner Online Gmbh banned users from farming the Chia token on its servers due to increased load and associated hard drive failures.

The Bottom Line

Large Chia farms typically have a smaller carbon footprint using less energy-intensive technology than competing cryptocurrency farms. Farming Chia leaves you with a fraction of the electricity bill of mining, and anyone can begin turning their unused storage space into green digital assets without solving complex equations like Bitcoin.

Overall, proof-of-space (or proof-of-spacetime, also known as PoST) is a promising alternative to digital currencies and the proof-of-stake model. The network witnessed a tremendous amount of initial excitement, reaching highs of $1,600 in mid-May, but since then dropping precipitously to below $200. Only time will tell if the Chia Network can reach widespread adoption to make a dent in the electricity consumption and the energy usage of today’s popular cryptocurrencies.

Disclaimer

This article is intended for and only to be used for reference purposes only. No such information provided through Bybit constitutes advice or a recommendation that any investment or trading strategy is suitable for any specific person. These forecasts are based on industry trends, circumstances involving clients, and other factors, and they involve risks, variables, and uncertainties. There is no guarantee presented or implied as to the accuracy of specific forecasts, projections, or predictive statements contained herein. Users of this article agree that Bybit does not take responsibility for any of your investment decisions. Please seek professional advice before trading.

Join our community & learn for free

No Spams. Only heaps of sweet content and industry updates in the crypto space.

Related Articles