Mining Hardware

Bitcoin mining hardware can consist of CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, or ASICs.

CPUs

Central Processing Units are now considered to be obsolete for Bitcoin mining. The network difficulty has gotten so high that they cost more in electricity to run than they produce in mined Bitcoins. Any CPU can be used for mining, no matter the manufacturer.

GPUs

Graphics cards are still often used for Bitcoin mining, but like CPUs they are becoming obsolete. The electricity cost to mining profit ratio is dramatically reducing over time. GPUs are also going obsolete because they create a lot of heat and noise when mining.

FPGAs

Field-Programmable Gate Arrays were only popular for Bitcoin mining for a short period of time. They functioned as the bridge between GPUs and ASICs. They are fairly expensive and much more hashpower per dollar can be purchased with an ASIC.

ASICs

Application Specific Integrated Circuits are the apex of Bitcoin mining. They are computer chips designed for the sole purpose of mining and serve no other purpose. ASICs use very little electricity and output low amounts of heat compared to CPUs and GPUs. ASICs are currently being developed, manufactured, and shipped by a handful of mining hardware companies. They range in price from ~$60 US Dollars to $22,000 US Dollars or more depending on the size and hashpower of the ASIC mining rig.

Below is a picture of a small-sized ASIC called the 'Jalepeno'. It is manufactured by Butterfly Labs and hashes at 5.5 g/hash.

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