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Chia Farming – Details of how to be effective in the long-term

6 min read

Chia farming requires a little effort, but more hardware in the future. The total network space for Chia has already exceeded 2 exabytes and is well on its way to doubling and is likely to reach the three-digit EiB level if current trends continue.

First, if you have previously messed with other cryptocurrencies, Chia is a very different animal. Some of the basic concepts of blockchain are not radically different from what happened before, but the Chia coin instead implements Proof of Space – technically Proof of Time and Space, but the latter seems to be a more relevant factor. Rather than mining coins by devoting a great deal of computing power to this task, Chia simply requires stored land – but this land needs to be filled in with the right data.

Analogies with real-world farming are intentional. First you have to clear the fields (ie delete all the files on the storage devices that take up space), then the fields are plowed and sown (calculate the plots for Chia) and then… well, you wait for the crops to grow, which can take quite a while these crop blocks Chia.

Your chances of solving a block of Chia coins are basically equal to your part of the total network space (netspace). Right now, the Chia network space is about 3.4 EiB (Exbibyte equals 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes). This means that if you dedicate an entire 10 TB (10 trillion bytes) to store Chia plots – 91 standard Chia plots (101.4 GiB) can be stored on a full 10TB hard drive – you should win a block every three months – once every 84 , 3 days in the current netspace, which continues to increase rapidly.

Each Chia fence ultimately looks like a massive and complex Bingo card. Each time a block challenge arrives, the Chia network determines the winner based on different rules. If your plot matches and “win” the block, you will receive a block reward (currently 2 XCH). This block remuneration will be reduced every three years, for the first 12 years, after which the block remuneration will be static ad infinitum. The official FAQ lists the reward rate as 64 XCH in 10 minutes and will be halved every three years until it is 4 XCH in 10 minutes with a block reward of 0.125 XCH.

To increase your chances, you will need more storage space and more Chia plots. Just because if a plot wins, it doesn’t mean it can’t win again, so don’t delete your plots after winning.

This is a standard cryptocurrency race that we have seen repeat over the last decade with hundreds of popular coins. Big miners – in this case farmers – want more of the total chia pie and run out to buy more hardware, increasing their chances of winning. Except that this time it’s not just about buying more SSDs or HDDs. This time, farmers each have to fill with plots.

Chia Coin mining in Windows using HDD and SSD [Update 14/05]

Chia Farming

With Ethereum, once you have the GPUs you need, maybe some of the best mining GPUs, just run them on your computer. Chia requires plowing and planning, and it takes time. How long? It is typically 6 to 7 hours for a standard plot k = 32 (twice as long at k = 33) and with the right hardware it is possible to make more fences at once.

The best solution is to have a large and fast SSD. Using a small 512 GB SSD for Chia fencing is a bad idea, because it can only perform two plots at a time. Use a large solid state drive for plotting, and then transfer the finished plots to a large hard drive. If the temporary storage space is exceeded, the fence will collapse and you will lose all this work.

As we said, each 101.4 GiB chart officially requires up to 350 GiB of temporary storage. The average write speed during the process varies, sometimes reaching over 100 MB / s, other times it can drop closer to zero. When it drops, it usually means it needs more computing power and memory.

For fast SSDs, storage capacity will probably be the main limiting factor in the end. If we use the official space requirement of 350 GiB, it means that 2TB SSD (1863 TiB) can handle a maximum of five parallel fences. Our own testing suggests that six will probably do well, maybe even seven, but for safety we would stick to six. If you want to do more than that, you will need either a higher capacity SSD or more SSDs. You can also use a 7200 rpm HDD, but the process will take longer

The 2TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus with a rating of 1400 TBW is a good choice for fencing. That’s enough to create about 800-900 charts. As for mass storage – farming – the most economical option is now external 5TB USB3.0 drives. USB drives give you much more potential to scale to higher numbers of drives because you can add USB hubs.

Set for 10 plots at the same time

CPU Core i9-10900
Motherboard MSI Z490-A Pro
Memory Team T-Force Zeus DDR4-3200 64GB
SSD storage Adata XPG S40G 4TB M.2
2X Seagate Exos X10 10TB HDD storage
Alternative USB HDD 4x Seagate Portable 5TB or 4x WD Elements Portable 5TB
PSU Thermaltake Toughpower GX2 80 Plus Gold 600W

This particular set has a 10-core processor. The SSD should be sufficient for ten parallel plots, which will require up to almost all 3,725 TiB capacity. Two 10TB HDDs are there because you make two sets of five plots at once, transferring the resulting plots to different HDDs, so the HDD’s write speed will not cause a massive delay.

Such a set has to solve the Chia block every 8.5 days.

Long-term effective Chia farming

chia farming

While it is possible to set up computers with dozens of hard drives using SATA PCIe cards and other power supplies, it is probably much easier and more efficient to skip everything and use the Raspberry Pi to Chia farming.

This is actually the recommended long-term farming solution from the makers of Chia. Above is an example of a 96TB farm consisting of 30 hard drives connected to USB of various capacities running from a single Raspberry Pi 4.

Of course, you can use a regular Windows computer. You will be limited in how many SATA ports there are on your motherboard, or you will need to add SATA PCIe cards. The use of USB to SATA adapters and USB hubs (with or without Pi) overcomes this limitation. And once you’ve completed the farm, the power costs to keep dozens of hard drives connected and up and running are relatively small – you could probably run 50 hard drives with the same amount of power as one RTX 3080 for mining Ethereum.

There are no proper Chia pools yet

One of the important caveats in all discussions about Chia farming is that right now there is no right support for Chia co-farming. This is being worked on and there are pools, but they require you to supply your Chia key. This is not safe. Combined Chia farming is high on the list of developers to implement.

The good news is that the pool is coming. Bram Cohen says they intend to start joint farming by the end of the month. The bad news is that existing plots will not be transferred to pools – you will have to re-create the plots in the pool. Once the combined farming appears, it looks like the new plots will be transferable between the pools, but we’ll have to wait and see.

This means that most of Chia farming now takes place as a solo effort. Which means you need a lot of plots and storage space before you probably win a block. Right now, 20TB of space reserved for Chia plots would win an average of one block each month. If you want to have a good chance of winning a block every week, you need about ten 10 TB disks filled with plotss. And, of course, other farmers are trying to do the same, so your block production will inevitably decline over time.

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