All About BTC, LTC, ETH mining as well as other alternative crypto currencies
Charlie Lee, the creator of of the popular alternative crypto currency Litecoin, has posted on Reddit a short and interesting analysis on why a few weeks after the first block reward halving the difficulty and price of LTC has returned to the level it was prior to the event. Below you can find his post quoted:
After the halving one would expect that either the price will go up or the hashrate must drop. This is because mining is designed with a Nash equilibrium of miner profit reaching 0 over time. So if miners are running at near 0 profit, and suddenly their revenue gets cut in half, miners would need to turn off their machines unless they are willing to mine at a loss.
The halving happened, and the price stayed the same. The hashrate dropped a little but then climbed back up pretty quickly to the previous level. That’s really unexpected, but I think I have an explanation. I talked to some Chineses miners at Scaling Bitcoin and learned something interesting. Most miners have found electricity for free or close to 0 cost. Chinese hydro power plants are sometimes generating too much electricity. That electricity goes to waste if it’s unused. So these plants have either sold the electricity for near 0-cost or they have partnered with miners to give them free electricity for a revenue share.
So this makes total sense now. If the electricity is free or close to 0 cost, then there’s no reason for miners to shut down their machines. They make half as much, but still profitable. These miners have also been asking around at the conference to try to buy old outdated Bitcoin/Litecoin ASICs. With 0-cost electricity, they can keep those machines running and still make money.
We considered the possibility that the reason behind was the introduction of newer generation of Scrypt ASIC miners from SFARDS and Innosilicon and the companies making them stacking up on hardware in their own mining data centers. But the possibility of a lot of Asian miners with zero cost to very very very cheap electricity mining with whatever hardware they can get and still profiting also sounds like a good enough reason. If that ends up being the actual reason it presents a bit of a problem for the normal home miners and small mining operations based outside of Asia that still need to pay for electricity and thus have higher cost for mining and smaller to no profit at all…
After the recent Litecoin (LTC) block reward halving we’ve seen some drop in the total network hashrate and thus difficulty as well as a direct result from the new lower rewards as a result of mining. The exchange rate of Litecoin did not change much, but with the lower difficulty things were looking like they would balance – smaller reward, but easier to mine. Interestingly enough a few days after the block reward halving the difficulty of LTC has started rising again and has already reached back the level where it was before the halving and it seems that it will continue to rise. This development rises some questions as to what is happening, so that the difficulty is rising and the exchange rate remains the same while the block reward is half of what it was previously. The only reasonable answer would be that somebody is bringing online new generation of more efficient Scrypt ASIC miners, otherwise with old generation hardware a lot of people would be mining LTC at a loss. There are not that many options available, probably SFARDS is stacking up their new SF100 miners for own use in a data center or maybe Innosilicon is ready with their next generation of Scrypt ASIC chips and are doing the same…
This weeks did not start well for the worldwide financial markets, and things were especially not good in USA and China as a result the exchange rates of Bitcoin and Litecoin as well as other crypto currencies are also down. The crypto currency price volatility is not something new, but the exchange rates dropping at this particular moment, especially for Litecoin, are not that good. Today LTC is expected to have its first block reward halving and the price going down to as low as $2.5 USD means that the mining profitability after the halving will be awfully low if any at all. Though later today we are probably going to see some recovery for both Bitcoin and Litecoin that will also most likely rise the fiat exchange rates for other alternative crypto currencies as well.
Back on to mining LTC, we had high hopes for SFARDS to have their new generation dual-mining ASIC capable of mining simultaneously SHA-256 and Scrypt-based crypto coins such as Bitcoin and Litecoin. The more interesting parts with the SFARDS SF100 miners is their high hashrate for mining LTC only with very low power consumption, roughly 1/3 of the closest competitor in the form of Innosilicon and their A2 Terminator chips. Unfortunately SFARDS is late, they are apparently going to miss the opportunity to release the hardware before the block reward halving, so their pricing will either have to go even lower in order to get user interest if/when they have wider availability. In fact some people have apparently received first batch units from SFARDS earlier this month, very limited early availability, and the feedback was not only positive. It seems that aside from the high initial price of the miners, there is more to be desired from the build quality and in terms of reliability as well. Meanwhile it seems that Innosilicon is selling well their A2 miners as they are currently the best you can get on the market and with good price policy and availability people that want to mine for Scrypt coins such as LTC have no other choice for ASIC miners.
We are going to see how things will work on for Litecoin, but meanwhile it is already experiencing a strong competition by Ethereum (ETH) in terms of market capitalization. Ethereum has been in development for quite a while, but mining has been officially launched at the end of last month along with the network starting to support transactions a few days later. The current high market capitalization of Ethereum is due to the availability of 72 million coins prior to the mining even starting, 60 million of which were sold to early investors and another 12 million to be distributed to early supporters. AS for the mining part, we have not even reached 1 million coins mined by users as we are getting close to the first month of mining. The expected rate of mining for Ethereum is about 30000 ETH a day or less than a million a month, but this does not mean that there are actually very few coins available. At the moment the daily trading volume of Ethereum is between half a million and a million coins, lately a bit lower because of the general drop in price. On the other hand Augur (upcoming application using the Ethereum network) is currently running their crowdsale and have already collected over 1 million Ether coins from users and close to 10000 BTC. So we are going to be keeping a close eye on the Ethereum development as well.