Simply stated, cryptocurrency mining is a process of generating new units of the cryptocurrency. Different machines around the world are working on the mathematical problem - an algorithm - and only some of them are finding the solutions - blocks.
You can compare it with any other mining process from our everyday lives - for example, gold mining - but instead of searching for the physical minerals or metals, cryptocurrency miners are searching for correct digital strings - hashes. At the same time, the transactions between wallets are being confirmed. This is why we say that the miners support the network.
There are hundreds of different algorithms available these days and the most known cryptocurrency mining process is most certainly Bitcoin mining. Bitcoin mining is today conducted with special, dedicated machines, called ASICs and works on an SHA-256 algorithm, but hundreds of other algorithms and cryptocurrencies can be mined with CPUs, GPUs or FPGAs.
A mining machine (hardware) reaches a certain speed (hashrate) on an algorithm. If the machine has a certain hashrate on one algorithm, it will have an entirely different hashrate on another algorithm. For each algorithm, the machine will also have different power consumption and will require different mining clients to run it.
ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) is a chip that is developed to mine a specific algorithm (or multiple algorithms). Once ASIC is manufactured it cannot mine other algorithms. Usually, if there is an ASIC that is being able to mine a certain algorithm, a GPU mining of this algorithm won't be considered as profitable anymore. ASICs achieve the highest speeds on the algorithm, but also consume the most power.
Popular algorithms: SHA-256, Equihash, X11, Scrypt, Blake (2b), CryptoNight, Lyra2REv2, and others.
Popular coins: BTC, LTC, ZEC, DASH, DCR, SC, and others.
Popular manufacturers: Bitmain, Ebang, MicroBT, Canaan, and others.
FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) is a chip that is developed to mine specific algorithms, but it can be at the same time reprogrammed to mine additional algorithms. Speeds achieved on FPGAs are usually between ASICs and GPUs and so is the power consumption.
Popular algorithms: Eaglesong, Verushash, Lyra2z, Lyra2REv2, Lyra2REv3, and others.
Popular coins: CKB, VTC, SMART, and others.
Popular manufacturers: Blackminer.
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is a chip that is used for different graphics related tasks (rendering, gaming), but it is also one of the most popular choices for mining. Most of the algorithms start with support for GPU before they are supported on FPGA or ASIC. A lot of the projects are also fighting against ASIC support and for keeping GPU-only support. Miners usually don't mine with a single GPU, but put multiple GPUs into one machine called mining rig.
Popular algorithms: Ethash, different variants of Equihash, cuckARood29, different variants of CryptoNight, Zhash, X16Rv2, X16S, and others.
Popular coins: ETH, ETC, GRIN, BEAM, ZCL, YEC, RVN, PGN, VTC, and others.
Popular manufacturers: Nvidia and AMD.
CPU (Central Processing Unit) is a chip that is used for different computational and processing tasks but can also be used for mining. Bitcoin was decades ago mined with CPUs, even though mining it today with anything else than ASIC would be meaningless.
Popular algorithms: RandomX.
Popular coins: XMR, EPIC.
Popular manufacturers: Intel.
To start mining a certain coin you will need the following:
To gather information on mining faster, we have prepared different collections of coins, hardware, pools, and software, which are interlinked to assure you better navigation between them. Regarding the question you have, you can start at different starting points. For example:
Keep in mind that sometimes mining clients don't support all the coins even though they are supporting a certain algorithm, so some additional testing will be needed.
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