Monday, April 19th 2021

Chia - The Cryptocurrency Gunning for Your SSD and HDD Space That Could Bring Another Tech Sector Pricing Up

A new cryptocurrency going by the name of Chia could bring about a boom in demand for HDD and SSD, which have been kept relatively untouched by the latest mining and supply constraints. However, optimistic predictions of falling prices for NAND (optimistic for consumers, that is) could prove to be erroneous. Apparently, the new cryptocurrency, which saw its whitepaper being published in February 9th and has already led to shortages of high-performance SSDs from China's Jiahe Jinwei.

The cryptocurrency was designed to be mined in SSDs and HDDs, looking to cut on electricity cost from proof of Work (PoW) cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and (still) Ethereum. The intention is for the cryptocurrency to have as broad an appeal as possible, by excluding the need for prohibitive investments in either ASICs (for Bitcoin) or GPUs (for Ethereum and other Dagger/Hashimoto-based calculations). It also leverages that which is most widely available and oftentimes left empty of any workload - storage space. Due to this, it's been reported that Chinese miners are already buying HDDs (4 TB through to 18 TB) and SSDs (mainly NVMe solutions) in bulk. This could prevent technologists from ushering in the current trend of falling storage pricing - if demand becomes as crazy as it has become in the GPU space.
Chia was designed by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen, and uses a specific type of consensus and ledger-assurance system that's described as Proofs of Space and Time. The blockchain is farmed via Proof of Space, which is done inside your HDD or SSD via computing through already-in-storage models, and then contacts Chia's servers for Proof of Time - which essentially ensures that a required amount of time has passed between the block's generation and its actual inclusion in the network, to prevent any ill-intentioned farmer from assuming control of the network.

There are several advantages to farming a cryptocurrency such as Chia over the more general proof of work models. HDDs and SSDs take up much lesser space than a rack of GPUs, whilst consuming much less power, generating much less heat and noise, and thus allowing for much higher scalings in farming scenarios (which is what Chia calls its mining, because it's more ecologically sustainable than the usual mining workloads).
Sources: Chia Project Home, via Tom's Hardware
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