back to article Ch-ch-ch-Chia! HDD sales soar to record levels as latest crypto craze sweeps Europe

The Chia cryptocurrency craze is fuelling record sales growth in Europe among distributors of hard disk drives (HDD), according to calendar Q2 shipment data from venerable number cruncher Context. Stats for the three months show sales to end users, via distributors and resellers, went up by 141 per cent year-on-year to 454,512 …

  1. Naich
    Coffee/keyboard

    Too late

    You can't make any money from your spare space. A couple of months ago I rounded up all my spare hard drives (about 1.5 TB) and started farming. The "estkimated time to win" started off at 10 years and got higher as more people added their HDDs to the network. God knows what it would be now. To have any chance of getting a payout you need to invest in 100s of TB. When I gave up I was competing with 24 EiB of network space or 28,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too late

      I have around 80TB of NAS storage at home, when I heard of this it said I should be able to make around 2k/m on it. Didn't bother clearing it to do it as knew by the time I did, I wouldn't have been able to make crap on it.

    2. spireite Bronze badge

      Re: Too late

      I remember reading an article somewhere recently... might have been on El Reg. A cloud/data centre company thought they could repurpose all the free space they had spare for Chia mining and ultimately stopped because even they couldn't make money from it.

      I still fail to see with any of the crypto stuff ..... 'WHAT IS THE POINT'?

      As I have a Pi doing nothing much apart from providing me Wireguard into the house, I thought I'd look at repurposing it for mining on its spare cycles.

      Tripped over a Monero article, where someone did that. I don't have the article to hand any more but the excerpt I do have is...

      *In order to withdraw my Monero, I needed a minimum of 0.05 Monero, approximately equal to $5.811 USD. (Exchange rate at the time of the writing of this article.) At a pace of accumulating 0.000001410642 Monero per 8 hours, it would take me 3,762 years to reach the minimum withdrawal threshold of 0.05 Monero.*

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too late

      Tried Burstcoin before, exactly the same thing happened. Was originally supposed to be "use your spare space" but people just bought loads of big disks to shoot us out of the game. At least the power consumption is lower, but there's still an environmental cost to manufacturing all that extra hardware.

    4. Jaybus

      Re: Too late

      Yes, but rest assured Mr. Cohen has the lion's share of it. Same as any other crypto currency....a digital Ponzi scheme.

    5. DuncanLarge

      Re: Too late

      > When I gave up I was competing with 24 EiB of network space or 28,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.

      Such a waste. The guy who created it only considered the fact that not much power is used during the farming as the only metric.

      What about the power etc used during the mining, manufacturing and transportation of the drives?

  2. MarkET

    Quick buck

    Are people still falling for this $£$%

    Don't bring the tin around when your house is on the market...

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Quick buck

      Don't bring the tin around when your house is on the market ...

      The bang we will be subjected to when all this crypto-crap comes down will be heard at the other end of the universe.

      All that will remain will be the dire consequences, which will be felt for decades.

      O.

      1. Francis Boyle

        On the other hand

        I'm thinking it'll be an implosion where all the crypto pseudo-wealth collapses into a singularity and nothing of value is lost.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: On the other hand

          energy has been lost. Unless you always try to find a silver lining, i.e. that energy lost by some, has made somebody else richer, who's gonna spend his riches and gdp goes up, ad infinitum... wait, what?!

          1. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: On the other hand

            And some fabulous amount of energy too. A big percentage of world energy consumption is this nonsense.

            Building 18tb HDD and filling them with psuedo random number is anything but eco.

            They should shut it down. It was a great experiment, top tech, very useful, but it cost too much and had very little real world benefit outside helping illegal money flow.

            It didn't replace the dollar and never will.

      2. Ian 55

        Re: Quick buck

        The bang will be the sound of people laughing at the coiners...

    2. Solviva

      Re: Quick buck

      Well there could be a glut of once-written large capacity HDDs on the market, assuming people get over their sunk-cost fallacy and realise there's more money to be made flogging the disks than holding on to them in the hope of earning something...

      1. Trygve Henriksen

        Re: Quick buck

        And are you willing to pay for large capacity HDDs that has been used for a year or three, in an environment you know nothing about?

        I just threw out a crate of old 3.5" size HDDs(from ancient 40MB PATA, to 1TB SATA that were still 'among the living')

        Just made a couple of holes with an 8mm drill bit first...

        (One was an old IBM 'Deathstar' HDD... they make a funny sound when the bit hits the platter)

        I would have trusted those HDDs more than random disks used in any mining rig.

        1. Solviva

          Re: Quick buck

          In my limited experience (sample size ca 300 drives), I've encountered...

          Seagate ST2000s that developed read errors starting from about 6 months old, drive retired once that happened. Retirement rate after that was about 1 every couple of months.

          Drives that live fast & die young, read errors after a month (again Seagates, 12TB I think).

          Deathstars - you know you should be backing up anything worthwhile on them but too lazy to do it.

          Then the rest either keep plodding on till the spontaneously die (rare).

          I wouldn't put the failure rate of a drive from a rig much higher than a fresh drive. If there's something worth keeping on it then back it up. The main advantage of a new disk is warranty (although UK folks should be careful if they need to send the disks back to the EU for warranty replacement...)

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Quick buck

      To be fair, there is a quick buck to be made. Just guess which new tweak will become the next fad, get in early, and cash out before things sour. Or, of course, sell shovels drives.

      I suspect there's still money to be made in Ether, because so much is tied up in Ethereum smart contracts1 and, according to studies I've read, a large portion of those are doing actual business processing for someone. So the value base is broader.

      But I wouldn't get into it myself. Not interested in the risk, and even less in spending my time and energy in figuring out a profitable angle and working it.

      1Which are neither.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Hunters-gatherers

    This is just a new iteration of hunters and gatherers.

    Hunters are the people who invent another crypto fade.

    Gatherers are the people who will be gathering whatever is needed to run the fade.

    This time they hoard drives.

    Why don't they create crypto that is powered by recycling and cleaning the streets?

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: litterer and sweepers

      I've actually just bought a few RoombaCoins™. If you haven't heard of them, your chance of winning is proportional to the amount of dust your hoover collects. So if you see my robot vacuum running up and down the street, you know why.

      (And somebody below has invested in FitBitCoin.™)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: litterer and sweepers

        Pondering how to invent WankCoin™

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: litterer and sweepers

          I'm think some kind of connected fleshdrive.

        2. David Roberts

          Re:wankcoin

          Only a small deposit required for entry into the scheme.

      2. Just A Quick Comment
        Joke

        Re: litterer and sweepers

        This proves it - Crypto Coins suck...!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hunters-gatherers

      ... or removing extra CO2 from the atmosphere.

      ...

      That said, with human ingenuity at its finest, I imagine the most expected result would be:

      - a run on high-powered staple guns followed by

      - worldwide cattlecide...

      - amazon sellers offering 'ultra-fine CO2-capture mesh"...

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Hunters-gatherers

      The real trick would be a cryptocurrency based on Proof of Hype. That appears to be an unlimited resource.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Chia

    So, this is the latest pyramid scheme.

    Proof of work, proof of space, what's the difference ? In each case, there will be loads of morons spending money and using resources for yet another funny money scheme that will practically only be used by criminals and scammers.

    Another load on Climate Change. Congratulations.

    I'm with China on this : it's time to outlaw that shit.

    1. Mike 125

      Re: Chia

      Crypto creates the same parodox as social media: terawatts of heat and noise, with the result of Absolute Zero.

      1. matthewdjb

        Re: Chia

        Oh the ironing of commenting about the waste of social media

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chia

          I enjoy ironing as much as the next man.

          But I prefer steeling.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Chia

          matthewdjb, you must realise that none of the silver and gold commentators here would lower themselves to anything as vulgar, plebby, lowbrow and proletarian as social media - that's not what IT should be used for! Besides, they're all too busy proselyting, arguing, flaming and out-IT-ing each other on this err, social media forum. Sorry, IRC board.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      All of them work on proof of idiocy...

      ... and that's truly unlimited.

      Now after GPUs will become hard to get disks at a decent price.

      1. Captain Obvious

        Re: All of them work on proof of idiocy...

        It is already occurring - I used to by WD external 14Tb hard drives for $249 on sale and $300 normal price. Now the normal price is $419 and if there is a sale maybe $319.

        It is like this across all drives including enterprise drives.

        I really hate stupidity....

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Chia

      "Proof of work, proof of space, what's the difference ? In each case,"

      One difference is that proof of work is an incredibly costly and inefficient operation which makes it difficult to forge transactions and profitable to secure them in a global manner, whereas proof of space is a slightly less costly operation which achieves nothing at all. If we're going to insist on cryptocurrencies with no external control, let's at least use one that has that. I don't think any of the existing ones are functioning at their goals very much, but some are a lot closer than others.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Chia

        So, how does this "proof of space" actually work anyway? Are the "miners" offering up their space for other to use or something? Or is it simply that the more free space you have on your disks the more you can earn just by it simply existing? Is this the monetising of "nothingness?" I know people with large amounts of space between their ears. Is that worth anything?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Chia

          It's a lottery. Each chunk of unused space is one ticket. When they need to mine, someone gets chosen at random and hashes the block. That's it. It does nothing. I'm wondering how many disks they bought up to sell later.

          1. sreynolds

            Re: Chia

            I read the documents, and they are not mining now, They are meant to be "green" farmers.

            Why can't they can a spade a shovel is beyond me.

    4. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Chia

      @Pascal Monett - "I'm with China on this : it's time to outlaw that shit."

      Welcome to Yuan Coin - not a blockchain, every transaction recorded centrally.

  5. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Smart!

    Somewhere, in one of the big Storage vendors' offices there must be a clever marketing person bound to get a huge bonus for Xmas... The idea was absolutely genius, and more so since it's bound to push the high-margin top shelf products, where the real profit lies.

    "Perhaps even their phone" - as if your bloatware-filled 64 GB of storage will make any difference... People are hopelessly naive.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Smart!

      Also artificial scarcity - I am pretty sure chip manufacturers do that as well.

      They just lifted blueprints from diamond traders.

  6. Patched Out

    Here's an idea ...

    Why doesn't someone invent a fitness oriented cryptocurrency based on "proof-of-steps"? Then everyone will pull their unused fitness trackers out of their drawer and start using them again. FitBit the device can become FitBit the cryptocurrency.

    Anybody wonder if some of these cryptocurrencies requiring vast amounts of high-end hardware aren't being invented by the hardware manufacturers themselves?

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Here's an idea ...

      Given my mum can apparently walk several miles just by sitting in a chair and knitting, I'd say it'd less be proof of steps and more proof of arm waving. Which, to be fair, is an adequate summation of the whole cryptocon. "So how will this thing make money?" *lots of arm waving* "Then a miracle happens."

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Here's an idea ...

        Just get a whole bunch of fitbits and hang them off the pendulum of a grandfather clock

        1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Here's an idea ...

          and get gazumped when whole world + dog buys metronomes

      2. Howard Sway Silver badge

        Re: Here's an idea ...

        Knitcoin?

        I quite like the idea of going to the shop and paying in big round woollen coins. Good proof of work too. But then all the knitting machines would get bought up, and textile mills would start churning them out and it'd cost £700,000 to buy a woolly jumper.

        I'm thinking of starting a crypto called "Printcoin", once I've bought up a load of printers. It's a corner of the hardware market that hasn't been ruined by this stupid fad yet : Instead of "mining" using a graphics card or HDD, you use the printer to "mine" what I'm calling cryptonotes, which it spits out on paper. and you can then go and spend in a shop.

      3. DuncanLarge

        Re: Here's an idea ...

        > Given my mum can apparently walk several miles just by sitting in a chair and knitting

        Fitness trackers should be on the waist

  7. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Is it possible to invent a cryptocurrency which isn't fundamentally an investment vehicle that allows people with money to spend it on one resource and get a higher return in another form?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      I think the question is why would you bother, given that we already have perfectly good forms of currency that work for all other purposes?

      1. FeepingCreature

        They actually work really badly. Huge latencies, large fees, and skeevy practices. Our markets work despite, not because, our shoddy money transfer system.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      No. Or if you do, it is a cryptocurrency with no value. Anything that's worth something and can be created has a value differential which could make it an investment.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, for the first part at least.

      There are several fine candidates already. No one is hyping them as there is little incentive to do so when the narrative is dominated by apes with diamond hands HODLing bitcoins they bought at 30k.

      The trick is, the winners in the scenario you outline are small merchants and end consumers. There isn't much money in the network or transaction fees in a healthy proof-of-stake cryptocurrency. There are however huge savings for merchants who currently are getting robbed by the Visa/MC credit and debit card cartel. Most of those merchant's lack the technical savvy to integrate a new payment network with their p.o.s. POS systems. (not a typo, :) it's two acronyms)

      These may catch on if the exchanges like Binance get into the game, but they are just another middle man. The sound proof-of-stake coin networks are thus stuck at .004% of the store of value coins. That is four hundredths of a percent. Which is why no one cares that much in the crypto-bro community.

      Not totally sure if that meets your second criteria. I was reading it as "isn't fundamentally an investment vehicle" and "the coin itself isn't expected to yield a higher higher return of value over time"

  8. Woenk

    if you have a few TB sitting around....

    I admit the plotting is not that enviroment friendly, if you do it on a consumer grade SSD.

    I had 20TB to spare on my homeserver, wanted to do some NVMe Raid0 testing anyway and filled it up.

    I did not invest to mine Chia, will delete plots when I need the space.

    What really buggers me....

    When the hype began, those 18TB Datacenter HDDs from WD went up from 380 EUR to almost 1200 EUR. Yeah, some thought they could "invest" and make "money"fast. Only ones that made money where prolly the retailers adopting to demand.

    If you have the mindset, that you really need to make money by farming, it is probably the wrong one. If you have the place to spare and do not really bother if and when you get a coin, you are losing nothing.

    And if you think that the plotting has to be done on an SSD...compared to the NVME RAID0 it only took me about 15% longer on a DC HDD connected via SATA.

    So yeah, once you done plotting on space you had anyway, it is eco friendly, if you invested to get as many chances you can get , you will not get a return in investment...was bloddy obvious there will be a hype with price spikes and that the market price for the coin will fall,

    It's lottery, iyou get more chances if you buy more tickets but that does not mean you get more than you invest just because you have more lottery tickets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just sell shovels

      You are right that the main winner in the proof of work/space wars are the people selling hardware and electricity. The mining networks, unless horribly miss-coded, will trend toward zero profitability unless you have a technical advantage. That is by design.

      It may still pay out if the coin/token rises in value after they were mined, but the coins tend to be massively volatile, and what goes up tends to also go down.

      So regardless if it's ASICs, GPUs or HDDs, the winners are either manufacturers or scalpers. That said, while the drop rate is low, it's one more way to put your over provisioned space to work. Pity they are not taking the Pied Piper approach and also selling that capacity for swarm storage, but that is trickier and you are stuck under amazon glacier price wise, so there isn't much money there either.

      but pennies add up, so it would be smarter if we still took the opportunities we had to put idle resources like spare hdd capacity to use. That said I have heard that chia thrashes drives pretty hard, so I probably won't be playing that game any time soon.

    2. DuncanLarge

      Re: if you have a few TB sitting around....

      > It's lottery, iyou get more chances if you buy more tickets but that does not mean you get more than you invest just because you have more lottery tickets.

      It's the digital version of premium bonds

      1. AndrewB57

        Re: if you have a few TB sitting around....

        yeahbut nahbut

        In a lottery you lose the cash invested, the rate of return depends on the number of other tickets purchased, the security of both depends on the business running the lottery.

        With Chia the value invested in HDD depreciates as with the resale value of the HDD, the rate of return depends on the amount of disk space allocated by other users, the security of value is er nil

        With UK premium bonds the value of the investment is maintained in cash terms (depreciates by inflation), the return per bond is at a set, known, rate and the entire setup is guaranteed by HMG

        Also income is tax free.

        They're not very alike.

  9. DS999 Silver badge

    What are Chia's performance demands?

    If this latest shitcoin becomes popular enough, and the performance demands are low enough, you could see HDD companies introducing models tailored for Chia. i.e., maybe it could store 2x as much data but R/W performance is a fraction of normal?

    That would be as bad as all the wasted fab space (which we are currently very short of) making Bitcoin ASICs that can do only one thing, and will be scrap when the bubble eventually bursts.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What are Chia's performance demands?

      "you could see HDD companies introducing models tailored for Chia"

      This is already happening. It's playing out as the emergence of drives with increased write endurance

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: What are Chia's performance demands?

        It's playing out as the emergence of drives with increased write endurance

        Huh? HDDs have no limit on write endurance, that's an issue for SSDs only. And EVERYONE who uses SSDs benefits from more write endurance, that has been worked on since long before Chia existed so claiming it has to do with Chia is ridiculous.

        I take it from your post that Chia places heavy write demands on its storage? If so, there is no feasible way for manufacturers to create special models for Chia, since HDDs have no limit on write endurance (though write speed is a problem, especially random writes) and SSDs have limits but increasing their write endurance (or performance) is not something that only Chia users will want.

        1. Captain Obvious

          Re: What are Chia's performance demands?

          Yes it is - look at HDD specs. They now also include maximum amounts written in order for you to get a valid warranty return if the drive fails. They started this several years ago - long before Chia.

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Its not like the storage space that Chia coin is using is even being used for storing anything useful. It it were some massive cloud storage network that could be used for archiving data then i could see the point in it. But just using storage space for the sake of storing something as a 'proof of work' is pointless.

    Its the same with the other crypto coins that use CPU/GPUs, why not put all those CPU cycles to something useful such like in the way SETI does? I am sure that with a huge network of spare CPU cycles available, there would be some businesses willing to pay to use them for crunching data if such a network existed.

    1. nintendoeats Bronze badge

      I think the potential pitfall with tethering crypto to something useful is this: when the bottom falls out of the market, the useful thing stops. You also have to be careful to pick something that won't eventually stop being useful.

      That said, I agree with the sentiment.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "why not put all those CPU cycles to something useful such like in the way SETI does?"

      This is more or less what hashcash did (proof of work to deliver email) and it's arguably the ancestor of all these crypto fads

  11. Dante Alighieri
    Coat

    Flash / SD / USB storage

    Can I reformat/reprogramme the device to report a Billion Exabytes and win...

    It's not like the actual storage size and the size declared to the OS has ever been faked.

    1. FeepingCreature

      Re: Flash / SD / USB storage

      Aiu you actually need to have stored an algorithmically determined data structure on the free space that you can pull out when challenged. It's proof of space, not assertion of space.

  12. Tron Bronze badge

    Better option.

    It should be possible to use one piece of software to aggregate and share all spare user storage space and flog access to it as a distributed encrypted cloud.

    It would make you more money that crypto mining. It works for Amazon and M$.

  13. msobkow Bronze badge

    You can count on the latest KrazeKoin miners to ALWAYS make a mess of the supply chain for the whole planet just to feed their selfish greed.

    NOTHING comes for free. There is a HUGE price being paid by those hard drive shortages by industries who AREN'T involved in the mining, but THOSE costs don't get factored into the coin miners' budgets anymore than stolen power did for the bitcoin ops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      NOTHING comes for free.

      but it's GREEN, man, the Bro ho invented it, like, totally unbiased honest guy, said its less-energy consumin than other currencies yeah? Green! Eco-fuckin-friendly! Positively ADDS energy to the system removes CO2 from atmosphere, stops deforestation, removes plastic from plastic and shit! Oh why are you people SOOO NEGATIVE!!!!

  14. DS999 Silver badge

    Too bad the "proof of work" required by Bitcoin et al

    Can't be something useful, like proving you've removed a ton of CO2 from the atmosphere or a ton of plastic waste from the ocean.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Too bad the "proof of work" required by Bitcoin et al

      Come on, it obviously has to be something you can do out of your chair, with minimal effort on your part.

      Working hard to make some money is for proles.

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