Who else wants to be a Chia farmer?

Chia was discussed years ago at BB, I’ll deep link the article:

@frauenfelder brought this up in a recent issue of his Magnet newsletter:

I guess it’s in the news since they are coming out of beta and launching the actual network soon (or already have)?

I’m… intrigued. Enough that I went ahead and bought some digital crafting supplies (an Intel NUC, and a good bang-for-the-buck giant external USB drive) to try this out. It is very daunting technically, but I like the idea of an eco-friendly alternative to Bitcoin and I want to support it.

Anyone else interested? I looked around the subreddit and it’s … pretty confusing, even for someone who is pretty technical, like me. So prepare for an extreme level of tech nerdery if you click the links, but I would love to see an eco-friendly alternative to current cryptocurrency strategies, and I think the creator has a lot of credibility since he created Bittorrent back in the day.

Any relevant links, feedback, etc welcome!


I asked on Twitter and I didn’t get the expected links to thinkpieces explaining why it all sucks, but I did get this:

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Oh, interesting – the GUI seems to be the way to go here, it’s pretty good.

Although there is, like, zero visual feedback when you are creating a plot as to how many things are being plotted, how far along the plots are, etcetera.

From the command line, it’s (assuming all defaults)

chia plots create -k 32 -t /media/sda/plotting -d /media/sda/plots

and looks like

Plot sizes, though note that the creation of these plots takes many multiples of this in disk space and I/O during the plotting:

Plot Final size Temp space needed
k32 108.8 GiB 332 GiB
k33 224.2 GiB 589 GiB
k34 461.5 GiB 1177 GiB
k35 884.1 GiB 2355 GiB

The network to launch “later this year” won’t accept anything under k32, so don’t plot those!

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Aha, I think I figured it out. If you let the GUI client fully sync to the network, then you can create plots via the Plots tab on the left hand side?

And confirming via the task manager

And the little “view log” button next to each plot task in the Chia GUI:

Turns out the defaults are mostly fine, so just use those. I also successfully created a k32 plot on my little NUC box last night to an external USB NVME drive, it took 9 hours.


The way you enter your private key is very cool – it’s 24 words, selected from a limited selection of words in each drop-down:

So as you type it’ll auto-match to the available words. Sort of like gosh, what’s the name of that password generation method? Diceware?

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I tried it out on some spare capacity on my iMac. It ran overnight and was still at 0%, likely due to big sur permission errors, which were entirely undocumented. Enough for me to wait for some more maturity. I troubleshoot this sort of thing as my day job, I’m not going to do it during my off-time, too. :wink:


Not at all what I was expecting…


The mainnet has launched! So now, any coins mined are valid coins! :raised_hands:

The genesis challenge will be distributed using our green flag process at 7AM PDT (14:00 UTC) on Friday March 19, 2021 and that will officially start mainnet! We attempted to chose a time that had the most waking hours around the globe. Apologies to Hawaii, the South Pacific, and eastern Australia etc.

Space farmers, unite and take over!

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What if I’d rather be an Alpaca rancher? Is there an app for that?


So if you want to Chia farm, I do think a smart choice to get started is an inexpensive external USB drive enclosure. Even one of the founders said as much:

All of that said, for my personal plotting I use a 2017 iMac and a 12TB Western Digital external drive on USB 3.0 for both temporary and final directory and I get a k32 about every 10 hours.

I had forgotten about this, but some people buy the enclosures, “shuck” them of the enclosure hardware, and take out the drives – which you can often get cheaper (!) as part of an enclosure bundle than you can when you buy the drive directly! If you are looking for inexpensive external drives, here’s a cool site that tracks the lowest prices for large drives offered as part of enclosure bundles:

Note that pretty much any modern computer will have a surprisingly fast connection via USB 3, but if you want to plot, I strongly recommend going for a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure, if your desktop or PC has that port. Here’s why:

Even ye old 2015 era computers will likely have a 5 Gbps (0.6 GB/sec) USB 3 port. It’s a very, very old standard. Newer computers will have a USB 3.1 10 Gbps (1.25 GB/sec) port, maybe even USB 3.2 20 Gbps (2.5 GB/sec) port, but you’d need to check the docs, or look for the little “10” marker near the port. Sometimes they’re a different color.

:bulb: For a garden variety large external 4, 8, 12, 16 TB hard drive enclosure, the raw USB interface speed (and there’s always overhead!) isn’t too big a deal, because you’re gated by relatively slow spinny rust disk HDD speeds anyhow.

But if you want an external SSD for faster plotting, I’ve found that the quality of the interface hardware on the external enclosure matters a lot. Read reviews and look for the enclosures that have documented excellent performance under heavy workloads, both pure transfer speed as well as random read/write, etcetera. A lot of research turned up these Thunderbolt 3 enclosures:

Kind of pricey, but the lower cost ones do have terrible throughput, such as a Sabrent one that I liked a lot … maxed out at 1.6 GB/sec!

If you prefer bundled storage (not extractable, so if you wear the drive out, that’s a negative), the Samsung X5 and TEKQ Rapide perform very well in benchmarks.

I should know better than to flap my fat mouth and make ridiculous predictions


I managed to farm some coins! I feel like a leprechaun! :four_leaf_clover: :rainbow::honey_pot:

Cheers @markfrauenfelder for turning me on to this. It’s kind of a fun, chill hobby – and I like the idea of eco-conscious crypto gaining traction (proof of stake, versus proof of work).

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OMG! How many plots do you have? Lucky!!!

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Ehhh I went a little crazy. I tend to do that… I tend to go too far with things I’m interested in, arguably borderline clinical mania. I don’t wanna say. But I will show you my NAS’es! They live behind my 3 monitors:

Power consumption of the NAS as measured by my watt meter, is 0.9w powered off (not great), powered on, # of drives:

0 11.5w
1 16w
2 20w
3 23w
4 27w
5 32w

Formatting the array, 50w - 65w, idle after array built, 43w - 44w. Considering that amount of energy will store a LOT of Chia plots, many many terabytes, that’s where the efficiency comes in!

(Also, that’s a 6 core / 12 thread 10th gen intel NUC plotter box on top, with full speed thunderbolt 3 and USB ports. By my calc that’s the most efficient plotting machine out there, you can find one of them for sale right now on eBay for $400, add 32GB ram, nvme/thunderbolt/sata to taste, and you could easily do 5, maybe 6 plots at once at around 8 hours per plot, but I think an AMD mini-nuc would do better … unfortunately nobody really makes those quite yet.)

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That’s amazing! I have a 12TB drive with about 26 plots. It says I can expect to win in 12 days, but at the rate the global number of plots is growing, I will probably have to wait for pooling before I can start earning any chia coins.

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Interesting graph of a k32 (the standard size, results in a 101GB) file being plotted over time, updated for 1.0.4

Here’s what I’ve noticed on one of my machines, it’s the little NUC10i7FNH modern Intel NUC, with a 6 core, 12 thread i7-10710u CPU. Here are some default (2 thread, 4GB RAM, k32) plot results from that machine:

Writing to the Samsung 980 pro 1TB NVMe SSD:

phase seconds hours
1 12997 3.6
2 6759 1.9
3 9914 2.8
4 780 13 mins

Writing to the Samsung 860 Pro 4TB SATA SSD:

phase seconds hours
1 13572 3.8
2 6781 1.9
3 10992 3
4 1048 17 mins

What surprised me is how little difference there was overall considering the SATA interface is limited to 6GBps (750 MB/sec theoretical). The actual read/write is saturated across all SATA SSDs these days at around 575 MB/sec read and 550 MB/sec write… whereas a NVMe SSD like the 980 pro can easily do gigabytes per second of read/write!

Also, for reference, here are copy times for the resulting k32 files … moving them around isn’t trivial!

copy speed time copy speed time
2000 MB/sec 0:51 175 MB/sec 9:50
1000 MB/sec 1:43 160 MB/sec 10:46
650 MB/sec 2:39 150 MB/sec 11:29
600 MB/sec 2:52 140 MB/sec 12:18
500 MB/sec 3:26 130 MB/sec 13:15
450 MB/sec 3:49 111 MB/sec 15:31
350 MB/sec 4:55 50 MB/sec 34:28
250 MB/sec 6:53 33 MB/sec 52:14
200 MB/sec 8:37 10 MB/sec 2:52:22

I bolded two;

  • 111 MB/sec is typical gigabit ethernet throughput speeds for a wired network.
  • 200 MB/sec is about the best write speed I’ve seen from external single big 3.5" hard disks… but it can degrade so that’s a best case scenario. You are often limited by write speed, and this is typical write (and maybe even read) speed limit on a single large 3.5" hard drive these days. I often see it slip down to 175, 160, 150, 140, 130 as the drive fills or just… I don’t even know. But I’ve never seen a single large drive do better than 200MB/sec.

(I tend to sneakernet them via an external USB enclosure that has an old Samsung 960 EVO NVMe drive in it, which tops out at 450 MB/sec best case, then plug that into the front of the NAS, and copying across that way tops out at 350 MB/sec for RAID 5, and 450 MB/sec for RAID 0 striping. So sneakernetting is, best case… 9 plots per 1TB USB drive… at 4:55 per plot… 44:15, a full 45 minutes! :open_mouth:)

Also as far as wireless goes, you’ll need something fancy to achieve at least 50mb/sec, otherwise it’s … quite painful. I am seeing that on my Wi-Fi 6 network which is cool!

Good deal on Western Digital 10TB USB external drives today on Amazon for $152. I mathed it out and it’s $15.20 per terabyte which is indeed the best deal for that model…

I also mathed out all the shuckstop (e.g. the best ever seen prices for external USB drives) data as well:

TB lowest price $ / tb
8 $120 $15.00
10 $150 $15.00
12 $175 $14.58
14 $190 $13.57
16 $260 $16.25
18 $280 $15.56

So, $15 per terabyte is definitely a solid deal – if you see less than that, consider it a crazy good deal.

I did not follow this subject and topic closely, but if I understand correctly, you save something on a hard drive as a form of currency, yes?

What happens if the drive fails?


Hmm. As with so many things, it’s a delicate balance between the possibility of regretting not investing and making large amounts of money at some future date, against the certainty of joining in and losing all my money right now.


Nothing; you generate new plots to replace the old ones. I made the mistake of storing my plots as RAID 5 and giving up 1/5th total storage for no reason… I’m rebuilding the array to rectify that error, which involves a lot of data transfer. Here I’m going from NAS A → NAS C (which is larger), then I’ll rebuild A as a simple striped RAID 0 array (for the extra write speed) or JBOD. I need to confirm that JBOD means losing a single drive just loses the plots on the one failed drive, first…

Learn from my mistakes, people!! You want the densest possible storage per watt.

  • Each plot (really, it’s just a 101GB file) can be thought of as a lottery ticket. The more lottery tickets you have online and synced, the more chances you have to win. :tickets::trophy:

  • It’s also fine for your tickets to be offline for a while – but you might miss some opportunities if they, mathematically speaking, “called your number” while your plots were offline.

Mostly I consider this a hobby, a way to learn and have fun. It certainly teaches you a lot about bandwidth, I’ve been thinking a ton about this old blog post …

And really – all you need to get started is a large external drive enclosure, which are fairly inexpensive; I posted a recent deal for $150 for a 10TB one above. Check https://shucks.top for the latest deals. If you want to get fancy, there’s lots of other stuff you can do, like build plotting machines, but even then, that’s just an inexpensive NUC with two bog-standard NVMe drives…