How to Farm Chia Coin, Now With Pooling

The Chia cryptocurrency started making waves in the storage industry in the early days, but diminishing returns and the lack of pooled farming were serious drawbacks. Now, arguably three months too late, pooling has finally arrived. We’ve overhauled our guide for how to get started, as well as our hardware recommendations. Spoiler alert: You probably shouldn’t buy anything.

When Chia trading went live, it looked like the hot new commodity, but things have changed quite a bit in the past few months. The total netspace for Chia rapidly expanded from less than 1 exabyte when trading went live, and it now sits at over 32 EiB. The rapid scaling of May and June is now behind us, though pooling may cause a resurgence. At least now it’s possible to get something from Chia, even if you only have a few tens of terabytes, but with Chia well on its way to triple-digit EiB levels, don’t expect much. In fact, BackBlaze went so far as to say Chia didn’t make sense, even with the ‘free’ 150PB of untapped storage the company currently has.

But don’t let that stop you! If you’re looking to join the latest crypto-bandwagon, here’s how to get started farming Chia coin, with the latest updates now in place. That means using the MadMax plotter to cut down on plotting times, along with how to get started with a chia Pool.

Chia Farming and Mining Basics

If you’ve dabbled in other cryptocurrencies before, Chia is a very different beast. Some of the fundamental blockchain concepts aren’t radically different from what’s gone before, but Chia coin ditches the Proof of Work algorithm for securing the blockchain and instead implements Proof of Space — technically Proof of Time and Space, but the latter appears to be the more pertinent factor. Rather than mining coins by dedicating large amounts of processing power to the task, Chia simply requires storage plots — but these plots need to be filled with the correct data.

The analogies with real-world farming are intentional. First, you need to clear a field (i.e., delete any files on your storage devices that are taking up space), then you plow and seed the field (compute a plot for Chia), and then… well, you wait for the crops to grow, which can take quite a long time when those crops are Chia blocks.

Each Chia plot ends up being sort of like a massive, complex Bingo card. There’s lots of math behind it, but that analogy should suffice. Each time a block challenge comes up, the Chia network determines a winner based on various rules. If your plot matches and ‘wins’ the block, you get the block reward (currently 2 XCH, Chia’s coin abbreviation). That block reward is set to decrease every three years for the first 12 years, after which the block reward will be static ad infinitum. The official FAQ lists the reward rate as 64 XCH per 10 minutes, and it will get cut in half every three years until it’s at 4 XCH per 10 minutes with a block reward of 0.125 XCH.

[Note: We’ve updated the math below based on the current netspace. 7/14/2021]

Your chances of solving a Chia coin block are basically equal to your portion of the total network space (netspace). Right now, Chia’s netspace sits at roughly 32 EiB (Exbibytes — the binary SI unit), so 1 EiB equals 2^60 bytes, or 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes decimal, and 32 EiB equals 36.9 EB (exabytes, using 10^18 for the SI decimal units). That means if you dedicate a complete 10TB (10 trillion bytes) of storage to Chia plots, your odds of winning are 0.000027%, or 0.0000000271 if we drop the percentage part. If those sound like terrible odds, they are, but the catch is that there are approximately 4,608 Chia blocks created every day (a rate of 32 blocks per 10 minutes, or 18.75 seconds per block), and any one of them could match your plot.

Simple math can then give you the average time to win, though Chia calculators make estimating this far easier than doing the math yourself. A completely full 10TB HDD can store 91 standard Chia blocks (around 101.4 GiB each). But, again, don’t get lazy and forget to convert between tebibytes and terabytes, as SI units definitely matter. 91 blocks on a single 10TB HDD works out to maybe winning a block every two years (808 days). Actually, to be precise, it would have a theoretical 0.86% chance to win a block each week, a 3.64% chance to win a block in a month, and a 36.34% chance to win a block in a year. But with netspace continuing to increase, your odds will drop, and you could go years without winning anything — at least if you’re solo farming.

We’ve heard from some people that dedicated over 100TB of storage to Chia back in May, who never earned a thing. And that was when the odds were five times better than now, with prices more than double the current going rate.

Using a small 512GB consumer SSD for Chia plotting is a very bad idea.

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