After diving into Chia ($XCH), learning deeply about how it all works, setting up my own Chia rig, and meshing this challenging new information with my existing tech knowledge related to storage, processors, and other computer components; I felt a blog was necessary to help clear up some confusion and make this more accessible to the public. Also, I spent a lot of time on the Chia Discord (chat) server, and boy, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths flying around, even being propagated by some of the “experts”. So, if this post gets too long, I will break it into a multi-part series, with a dedicated focus for each post to more easily find what you need. First, let’s get started with the basics.
What is Chia?
First, we must establish what Chia is “not”. Current/traditional cryptocurrencies typically fall into one of the four categories:
- PoW (Proof-of-Work): the more hardware you have, the more you get!). Example, Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH). Miners use specialized hardware called ASIC of FPGA devices to mine BTC, or GPUs (graphics cards) to mine ETH.
- PoS (Proof-of-Stake): the more you “stake” (hold onto), the more you get rewarded with, kind of like a Roth IRA since it is ‘locked up’ for a period of time, so to speak. Example, Ethereum 2.0 (ETH2). Coins that are strictly PoS, cannot be mined.
- Hybrid PoW/PoS: some coins can be mined and staked for profits, a mix of the above. Example: NosoCoin.
- ETH/BNC Tokens: These are typically meme-spinoff coins with large communities behind them that primarily exist on Telegram chats. Some of these are self-generating (a form of PoS, but does not require “staking” as they do not get locked up), similar to a normal bank savings account. Examples: $SAFEMOON, $FEG, $HOGE, $DOGO. These cannot be “mined”, only purchased or traded.
Unlike these other types, Chia is a new format of cryptocurrency known as a “Proof of Space and Time” coin. Proof of Space in that it requires “plotting” across great amounts of storage devices, and Time in that it requires “farming” to reap any rewards. What? Ok, let’s describe the process.
Plotting is the process of creating plots (typically performed on fast storage devices) that may contain Chia rewards. In short, these plots are large 100 gigabyte bingo cards that might give you Chia coins (2 XCH at a time) at a later time once they have been “farmed”. This plot is just a “chance” at winning some Chia, like bingo cards or lottery tickets, and not a guarantee. Plots can take hours to create, and can be made sequentially or multiple in parallel.
Farming (or Harvesting)
After plots are made, they are automatically moved to a farm (typically kept on slow/cheaper storage devices). This is where the farming/harvesting happens. This can be through of like the Bingo analogy. Plots are bingo cards, as you are waiting for a winning board to be called to see if you won. This uses much less electricity than traditional crypto-mining like Bitcoin and Etherum require. You could use very cheap hardware to do the farming phase. Most of the time, the required value will not be found on the bingo card (plot), but if it does, then it credited with a “proof of space” which proves that an amount of space was allocated to a plot.
The proof of space is used to create an “unfinished” block which is propagated on the Chia network™. The block will remain unfinished until it obtains a proof of time – this is where timelords come into play. (source)
For security purposes, Chia is designed to maintain a minimum amount of time between blocks. Timelords are notified when unfinished blocks are added to the network, and are then able to then start working on a “proof of time”. Once a timelord finishes, a proof of time gets propagated to the network and the previously ‘unfinished’ block now becomes valid. It is at this point that the lucky farmer will be rewarded with Chia (2 XCH coins). At the time of writing this blog post, XCH is $1,400 per coin, so that’s a reward of $2,800. Now you see the interest people have. This isn’t like buying $8,000 worth of equipment to mine Bitcoin or Ethereum, and getting daily rewards. There is no guarantee of reward with Chia, and waiting time is exponentially longer for those that do win some.
I hope this overview of Chia has helped you understand the basics. I plan to make some follow-up posts about the Ideal Chia Hardware Setup, How to Setup Your Own Chia Rig, and Top-10 Chia Myths. If there’s a question about Chia that you have, comment below, and I may even incorporate it into and upcoming blog post!