Chia crypto-currency threatens to spike SSD prices like Bitcoin did to GPUs


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A new emerging crypto-currency, Chia, could do to the hard drive and SSD market what more traditional crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have done to GPUs: spike prices and make them next-to-impossible to buy. In Asia, the trend has reportedly already begun.

Chia isn’t just another knockoff crypto-currency: it’s led by the founder of BitTorrent, Bram Cohen, who is chief executive of the Chia Project. Chia began allowing Chia “farmers” to begin mining Chia coins in March, and will allow transactions of the coins themselves to begin on May 3.

Traditional crypto-currencies use what’s called “proof of work” to authenticate blockchain transactions, with progressively decreasing rewards as more coins are mined. In reality, this means that crypto-currency miners have moved to CPUs to GPUs (and even specialised ASICs) to mine crypto as quickly and efficiently as possible.

But because specialised ASICs are impossible for consumers to design and manufacture, demand for more available GPUs has skyrocketed, driving up prices hundreds of dollars above MSRP.

Chia uses “proof of time and space” to achieve similar goals, but with storage. According to Chia, users of the Chia blockchain will “seed” unused space on their hard-disk drive or SSD by installing software which stores a collection of cryptographic numbers on the disk as “plots”.

Using the Chia software, users then scan the blocks to see what hash is closest to the crypto-graphic challenge, then pass the result off to a separate server, known as a “timelord.”

All this means is that Chia put your surplus storage space to work, rather than your GPU. According to the plotting basics page, Chia farmers will want to prioritise both storage size and storage speed—which means the technology will prioritise the largest, fastest SSDs, especially those that use the NVMe interface.

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