GPU Mining may be Making a Comeback Relative to ASIC

For many years now, Bitcoin mining has been dominated by the Application-specific Integrated Chip (ASIC), and long gone are the days of mining Bitcoin for profit with a central processing unit (CPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU), or even a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). However, thanks to increasingly popular altcoins such as Ethereum (ETH), Zcash (ZEC) and the recently forked Bitcoin Gold (BTG), GPU mining may very well become profitable again.

As their name suggests, ASIC miners are ‘specifically’ designed for solving the Bitcoin hashing algorithm (currently, SHA256^2). The dramatic increase in Bitcoin’s market value, since its inception, has fueled an ASIC arms race, with every new generation of ASIC being faster and more efficient at it than the last, and has driven up demand for, and valuation of, the hardware.

To ensure one block is found roughly every 10 minutes, the Bitcoin network protocol adjusts the mining difficulty every 2016 blocks (roughly every two weeks). So, as the global Bitcoin hashing power (hashrate) increases [Figure 1], the hashing difficulty also increases in direct proportion…

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