Chia, the cryptocurrency that uses storage: hard drives at risk like GPUs?
Could the availability issues affecting the video card market due to cryptocurrency mining needs affect storage devices as well? It is a far from remote possibility in the face of the attention that Chia is collecting, a cryptocurrency that uses storage space to be able to maintain its network.
Chia is a cryptocurrency created by Bram Cohen, already known for being the creator of the protocol BitTorrent, and which aims to offer a more efficient way, in terms of energy consumption, for maintaining the network marrying the concept of “farming” as opposed to that of mining.
Chia, the “green” cryptocurrency from the inventor of BitTorrent
Instead of depending on the “proof of work” of algorithms such as that of Bitcoin and which requires the use of computing capacity, with consequent non-negligible energy consumption, Chia is based on a “proof of storage and time” which only requires the use of storage space.
From a conceptual point of view, if the “proof of work” is a data that demonstrates the execution of a job (in the specific case of the Bitcoin blockchain, a calculation to find a value that satisfies a cryptographic question), the “proof of storage and time “represents a piece of information that allows to demonstrate that the participant in the network has reserved a certain amount of space for the purpose over time. The interest in participating in a network therefore comes demonstrated by reserving allocation space, where in the proof of work it reserves the ability to calculate.
PoST concretely takes the form of filling the unused storage space with data strings: the greater the space made available, the more strings can be stored and the greater the chances of validating a block of the blockchain. The use of storage space, from an energy point of view, is significantly less expensive than carrying out calculations. More formal and detailed information on the functioning of the Chia network can be found in the whitepaper (or rather, Green Paper) starting from this address.
It’s hard disk hunting: danger of availability on the market?
And it seems that the prospect of a “greener” cryptocurrency, which takes advantage of storage space, has triggered a real “storage hunt”. According to HKEPC, the Chinese market in particular is already experiencing massive purchases of high-capacity hard drives, from 4TB a 18TB. A dynamic that, it is feared, could lead to a shortage of parts on the market, which will have the double effect of making procurement difficult on the one hand and increasing prices on the other, exactly as happens in the graphics card market.
The operation of Chia involves a large number of read and write operations, a particularity that it makes consumer-grade hard drives and SSDs that are not very attractive for this type of use, as opposed to datacenter / enterprise and high-end solutions. And some producers seem to be already carefully considering the new buying dynamics on the part of the market.
Chia currently not yet listed on any exchange, but it is possible that in view of a possible future listing there is some party interested in putting “hay in the farmhouse”. For now, moreover, it seems that the demand for hard drives is relatively limited, but the interest of miners … indeed, of farmers, in this case, should never be underestimated.