back to article Hold 'em, don't fold 'em: How to bite Bitcoin pools

Bitcoin's reward mechanism is based on publishing a solution to the block chain. What if an Evil Genius™ reversed this, and rewarded miners for withholding their solutions? The simple answer: a pool of miners in which an Evil Genius™ withheld solutions would collapse. The surprise longer answer, presented in this paper at the …

  1. graeme leggett

    house of cards question

    If Bitcoin ever collapses , what's the world going to do with all this spare processing power released from calculating 'funny' money?

    1. nk

      Re: house of cards question

      It could be used for another cryptocurrency

      It could be used for any other need to process sha256 hashes

      Or, more likely, the machines will be scrapped. Despite the ostensibly large processing power (from the specialization), the number of actual machines is rather small compared to all the consumer computers out there.

      Already there are 4 generations of sha256 asics out there, 3 of which (probably but 2 for sure) are currently obsolete, not worth using any more.

      I guess what happens to them is the same thing that happens to all those decade+ old laptops and desktops.

      1. David Roberts

        Re: house of cards question

        What, they sit in a corner running Linux?

        1. frank ly

          Re: house of cards question

          No, they go to Silicon Heaven. Of course it exists!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: house of cards question

            "No, they go to Silicon Heaven."

            Only if their O/S was the TRUE FAITH. ;-)

      2. Tom 64
        Windows

        Re: house of cards question

        > "It could be used for another cryptocurrency"

        This. Why not try to mine another currency. You may not earn as much cash, but you'll have a chance of the new currency becoming more popular simply by the fact of switching to it. If enough of the big miners do it, you'll have bitcoin 2.0

      3. Dave 32
        Coat

        Re: house of cards question

        > It could be used for another cryptocurrency

        But, wouldn't the next cryptocurrency be based on SHA-512, or SHA-3? That would make all of those SHA-256 ASICs even more obsolete.

        Dave

        P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pockets full of corned beef HASH.

        1. quxinot Silver badge

          Re: house of cards question

          >P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the pockets full of corned beef HASH.

          Dear Dave,

          Keep that stuff put away.

          No one wants you to flash your hash cache.

      4. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: house of cards question

        > I guess what happens to them is the same thing that happens to all those decade+ old laptops and desktops.

        Yes, the ASIC hardware is ultra-specialised, so it can really only calculate sha256(sha256(message)) < D, where "message" is the concatenation of the previous block's header, a proposed new block and a "nonce" (effectively a random number, though they are scanned in sequence).

        This kind of thing is no use for, eg, breaking passwords, so if Bitcoin dies, the hardware is effectively useless.

        https://www.bitcoinmining.com/ has a nice block diagram explaining this. See the "What Is Proof of Work" section.

      5. razorfishsl Silver badge

        Re: house of cards question

        No... no it cannot

        Go look up what ASIC means.

    2. chris 143

      Re: house of cards question

      Go looking for some sha256 collisions?

    3. razorfishsl Silver badge

      Re: house of cards question

      Nothing , because it is NOT computing power, it is hash calculation power

      the chips used are single solution hardware. remove the requirement for work and you re left with e-waste fit for land fill.

      Nearly all the hardware on offer is useless for generating fully extractable sha256(x) or sha256(sha256(x)), you cannot actually get out all the XYZ GH/S results.

      Since the check for a solution is hardcoded into the actual chips, so the result calculations are not even extractable only single proposed solutions are passed out of the chip.

  2. Mystic Megabyte
    Mushroom

    ?

    I've not yet had enough tea for rational thought but I read the article in a different way.

    It seems that in a parallel universe someone is mining anti-bitcoins. If by chance we both order a loofah online, Amazon will explode.

  3. JimmyPage
    Happy

    RE:what's the world going to do with all this spare processing power

    Piss on the bad guys chips and crack things like the Dharma ransomware ????

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Little by Little, Bit by Bit*:-)

    Morning, Richard C,

    Bitcoin's reward mechanism is based on publishing a solution to the block chain. What if an Evil Genius™ reversed this, and rewarded miners for withholding their solutions?

    Such a reverse engineered reward methodology is nothing new, and in the worlds of fiat currency enslavement and atomic energy weaponry, is the withholding of simple vital bits of information and secreted intelligence, the knowledge of which would create and unleash an unstoppable explosive chain of destructive events in deeply embedded and exclusively elite empowering and fundamentally flawed traditional, SCADA Power Systems, par for the course and remarkably well rewarded with truly perverse amounts of fiat/money/credit.

    Shared knowledge is universal computed power and secret knowledge is a quite heavenly cosmic energy with hellish dark undertones and highlights to make Grander Politically Correct and Greater IntelAIgent Games Play with?

    And that is a MMORPG Morph which neither suffers nor entertains the Follies of Fools or the Drones of Clones.

    Can you imagine and realise what is currently be targeted and attacked for perverse Evil Genius™ gazillionaire reward/just dessert.

    Poe's Law Rules :-) .... *:-) https://youtu.be/lMSQ-SMaUVU

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Could this happen by accident?

    I have machines working with a large pool (200 Ph/s) and have noticed that my rewards are slightly higher when solutions are found quickly, within an hour or so, then when the pool takes longer. The long it takes, the lower the reward - something that could be explained by a large number of low power miners repeatedly attempting, but failing to solve the math.

    1. razorfishsl Silver badge

      Re: Could this happen by accident?

      Beeeeeee cauuuusseee the reward is based on some theoretical assumption of robbing peter to pay paul.

      since the calculation is solved "quickly", it is theoretically possible that the time saved by not calculating an extended solution, frees up time to solve another solution quickly, and hence reduces the cost of the whole setup, thereby making the payout higher for the winners.

      There is not a single fixed "next block" it is not a single solution race, it is a race to hash a semi-random collection of spends so that the proposed solution meets the difficulty currently required AND gets that solution accepted by the majority.

  6. Lt.Kije

    QiBitCoin

    One wonders how the arrival of quantum computing will upset these crypto-currencies.

    An initial price collapse, short term over supply then mining controlled by a very small number of firms.

    IBM's stock is looking better.

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: QiBitCoin

      > One wonders how the arrival of quantum computing will upset these crypto-currencies.

      Presumably not at all. A quick check on how Shor's algorithm (which could potentially defeat RSA) works tells me that it relies on the quantum Fourier Transform, which isn't applicable to SHA256 or hashing functions in general.

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