Who else wants to be a Chia farmer?

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…

It’s a distributed hash table that distributes hashes?

It’ll run down on a Pi4. Unless it’s totally I/O bound, I wonder if it could be turbo’d with some key native code libraries?

We are working on improvements like native Windows binaries

Probably then.

There is plotting (creating the chia plots) and farming (monitoring for wins). Remember this is a “proof of space” system.

  • Farming is very low resource. Once the space (the 101GB K32 plot file) is created, all it needs to do is sit there on a not-very-fast disk, be accessible via the internet for :tickets: ticket win checks (which aren’t particularly expensive)… and well, that’s it. That’s all. You could easily farm on a Raspberry Pi 4 and a bunch of USB connected 2.5" drives with plot files on 'em.

  • Plotting is somewhat resource intensive, in terms of I/O and CPU to generate the Chia plot files, but nothing like the constant hardcore GPU and specialized ASIC stuff that “proof of work” systems require. You definitely would not want to plot on a Pi 4 though. I mean you can…

A rough benchmark of a SHA3-256 hash of a 60735349 character file, both in Free Pascal, using the same hash library:

AMD Phenom™ II X4 810 Processor, 2600 Mhz. Windows 64
RPI3B+. Raspberry OS 32.

PC: Ticks (ms): 2922
RPi: Ticks (ms): 10466

Yes, not quite a third the speed. Golly those little Pis are so slow!

  • The result hashes were different. Probably due to differences in string types. I’ll check further, because that’s important to another project. I don’t think it would make a difference to the execution times.

Hm. Now how to set up a test to compare that with Python…

eta: /makes a note not to allow anyone to post 61M text messages to ShadowCast.

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Try on a Pi 4! They’re quite a bit faster. Here’s a few pics of farming rigs powered by a Pi 4:

Note that IMHO the power drawn by the drives (5W - 8W per 3.5" drive, I’d think) will far outstrip the power of the engine driving it, for any chia farm outside the smallest of small…

Go for density, always go for density…

Sure, I’m not even boosting the clock on that 3B+.