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Chia, the 'Green Alternative' to Bitcoin is Burning Through Hard Drives, Causing Shortages

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Bram Cohen, who launched Chia, explicitly wanted a 'green cryptocurrency' that would work much like Bitcoin and at the same time, is not hazardous to the environment.

Chia, a ‘green’ cryptocurrency that recently grabbed eyeballs for being more environment-friendly than bitcoin, has been criticised for generating a lot of e-waste. Bitcoin mining requires high-end computers to solve complex puzzles to earn coin rewards. Thereby, it uses a ghastly amount of electricity and produces carbon emissions as much as a medium-sized country. Whereas, Chia does not employ the use of numerous computers as in bitcoin, but it uses ample storage on the computer. By design, Chia mining requires extra hard disk space for operation. In order to farm Chia, the software is required to write a plot, which is a large chunk of cryptographic data, to the disk. Then, the Chia blockchain software gives a “challenge” every 18 seconds or so, 4,608 times in a day. If one gets a close enough answer to the puzzle, two fresh Chia tokens are given to him. So, it is essentially storage-centric mining that works by using numerous hard drives. The more hard disks you fill, the harder the challenges become, and the more rewards you win.

Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent, who launched Chia, explicitly wanted a “green cryptocurrency” that would work much like bitcoin and at the same time, is not hazardous to the environment. So, he founded Chia, a storage-centric network, thinking it will use less electricity. He assumed that the users would use the reusable form of computer hardware and therefore, end up producing fewer carbon footprints.

However, the aspiring Chia miners have already started investing in hard disks in vast amounts that some Asian countries, such as Vietnam, are reporting shortages of hard discs. As per the website of NewScientist, nearly 3 million terabytes of hard disc space, which is enough to store 3 billion movies is being devoted entirely to Chiamining.

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first published:May 29, 2021, 16:20 IST