The amount of data used for cryptocurrency mining is so vast, it seems nearly impossible to measure. But one interesting metric is to ask how long it takes miners to finish running their software on a new ASIC miner, which runs very quickly. According to O’Reilly Radar, the current top-performing GPU (graphics processing unit) cards require three times as much power as an S7 or S9 Antminer PPS+ unit to do the same work.
Possibly even more telling is that at least some crypto projects are saying they want energy efficiency in their chips, like Zcash and its daughter blockchain known as “Zero Coin” (ZEC), which run their very efficient ASICs on halving schedules. Other coins like Monero (XMR) take longer dividing the block reward by two every four hours using custom hardware called an XmrStak device. All of these show startups eating up energy at less than half the rate that Bitmain does with its Antminer machines currently selling at $1,400 apiece for just over $20 million in sales last year alone — before taxes went up 25% last summer.
It’s no wonder businesses are paying attention: Dozens of other cryptocurrency startups have already launched this year amid what Wired calls “the largest pool of institutional capital ever assembled around cryptocurrencies.” So far all but one has failed during the first quarter of 2018, including Stox and Gnosis bets on prediction markets without having built any