Čvc 14

New Power Rates for Cryptocurrency Miners in Upstate New York

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved new electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners in Upstate New York.


Details of the New Rates

In a press release issued by the New York PSC, high-density power consumers like cryptocurrency miners under the Massena Electric Department will pay new utility rates. The new rules approved by the New York PSC aims to protect existing electricity customers while at the same time encouraging miners from setting up shop in the area.

As part of the new plan, cryptocurrency mining operators will be able to negotiate with municipal power authorities in the area. By so doing, utility companies can review the energy demands of miners individually to come up with suitable contracts for each cryptocurrency mining facility.

To qualify for this new rate, miners must exceed a demand of 300kW and a load density of 250 kWh per square foot per year. Also, they must provide proof of benefits attached to their consumption. The new directive is an economic development assistance package that virtual currency miners in the area can enjoy.

Commenting on the new rate plan, chairman of the New York PSC John B. Rhodes said:

As part of our continuing effort to balance the needs of existing customers with the need to attract new companies, we must ensure that business customers pay a fair price for the electricity that they consume. However, given the abundance of low-cost electricity in Upstate New York, there is an opportunity to serve the needs of existing customers and to encourage economic development in the region.

New York Public Services Commission

No Downside for Existing Customers

One significant upside to the new electricity pricing policy is that it does not affect the rates paid by existing customers. Cryptocurrency miners and other high-density power consumers in Upstate New York that do not meet up with criteria will be placed in another pricing category.

Thus, existing customers are shielded from being made to pay a premium on electricity in an area that has one of the lowest utility tariffs in the United States. The new plan comes into effect on July 17, 2018.

Since the beginning of the year, cryptocurrency miners have been trouping into areas in Upstate New York looking to take advantage of cheap power and favorable climatic conditions. However, municipal power authorities weren’t best pleased with the development fearing that their power resources could become stretched.

In March, the New York PSA authorized power authorities in the upstate area to introduce premium tariff rates for cryptocurrency miners. With this new pricing plan, however, miners can rest easy now that they know where they stand.

Should other states that play host to significant cryptocurrency mining activities adopt the decision by the New York PSC? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.


Images courtesy of dps.ny.gov, iStockPhoto

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Čvc 04

The Pirate Bay Resumes Cryptojacking But Should it Even be an Issue?

The Pirate Bay (TPB) has resumed its cryptojacking activities. The P2P file-sharing platform launched another browser script that hijacks unused CPU power of site users to mine cryptocurrency. TPB launched a similar browser script in September 2017 but discontinued it after vociferous protests from site users.


TPB is Running the Crypto Loot Web Miner

According to reports, the platform is running the web miner script called crypto loot. In a post on the TPB forum from June 2018, a user on the platform first reported the presence of the mining script on the TBP platform.

TPB appears to have set a new throttle value of 0.9 (90 percent throttle) for this latest coin mining script. Some users are reporting significant CPU utilization leading to overheating of their computers while browsing the site. When TPB tried to mine coins on its users’ computers last year, the script was throttled between 60 to 80 percent.

One possible explanation for the increased utilization of users’ CPU might be TBP’s need for increased revenue. These days, people tend to enable adblockers on the browsers. Thus, revenue from banner ads has declined significantly. Besides, P2P file sharing sites aren’t exactly cash cows for mainstream online advertising.

Platform Moderator Doesn’t Think it’s a Significant Issue

As expected, the development hasn’t gone down well with some site users. Many of them take exception to the fact that there isn’t an option to opt-out of their computing resources being forcefully used to mine cryptocurrency. Others decry the fact that the website administrators did not announce the fact that they had resumed running a web miner.

One of the super moderators of the TPB online forum, Sid, expressed disappointment at the development. Sid, however, opined that it wasn’t much of a problem, saying:

[Sic] Yeah, yeah, whatever. The time it takes to download a torrent is completely and utterly irrelevant. All you require from TPB is a magnet link. Open the site. Find a torrent. Click the magnet link. Close the site. End of miner. If you are ever on TPB for more than 5 minutes or so you’re doing it wrong. And if you’re ever on TPB without an ad blocker you’re doing it doubly wrong.

The Scourge of Cryptojacking

The Scourge of Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking isn’t exclusive to P2P file-sharing sites. In fact, the practice has surpassed virtual currency-based ransomware as the preferred attack mode of cryptocurrency hackers. At the center of the cryptojacking universe is Coinhive and the script it provides that enables people to commandeer the CPU of others to mine cryptocurrency.

There are hundreds of thousands of infected websites and users have to take precautions to safeguard their computers. So far, the practical means of protection include browser extensions like NoScript or ScriptBlock.

What do you think about The Pirate Bay resuming its cryptojacking activities? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.


Images courtesy of Pirates-forum.org, Shutterstock

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Čvn 23

Bitcoin Inside: Crypto Mining Farm to Open in Former Intel Facility

· June 23, 2018 · 12:00 am

California-based 3G Venture II has paid $13 million for a significant portion of an old Intel chip plant in Colorado Springs, which it intends of turn into a new bitcoin mining operation.


Mining Farms Opening Around the World

Miners have been flocking to cities that offer cheap electricity to reduce costs and increase profits, and it looks like Colorado Springs may join the list. At just 7.94 cents per kilowatt-hour, the town’s commercial electricity rates are more than 21% lower than the national average. City leaders have been using these lower prices to entice new businesses into the area – and it appears to be working. Walmart and FedEx both have data centers in the area which require large amounts of electricity to run. Bitcoin mining farms have similar power needs, making Colorado Springs a great place to set up shop.

Much of the town’s economy is based in the high-tech sector, with companies like Verizon and Hewlett-Packard setting up offices. In 2000, Intel opened a 1.4 million square foot semiconductor plant in the area that boasted an extensive electricity network – including its own substation and two separate power feeds – among other features. A several years-long decline in the industry caused Intel to close down the plant in 2009 and there it has remained abandoned – until now.

Mining Farms Opening Around the World

California-based 3G Venture II has purchased a “large portion” of the old Intel plant and – according to city economic development leaders  – plans to convert it into a bitcoin mining operation. With a purchase price of $13 million, the acquisition includes 30 acres of land and more than 700,000 square feet spread across four buildings. Three of the buildings – 85,000 square feet in total – will be used for the actual mining operation. The company intends to lease space in the remaining building – a huge 4-story, 640,000 square foot facility – to industrial tenants.

Cheap energy and size of the facility aside, one of the primary factors that drew the interest of 3G Venture II’s owner, John Chen, was its power infrastructure. The on-site substation and dual separate power feeds are a huge boon for any mining operation. Without it, a similar operation might have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more in order to achieve the same setup.

Hashrate Follows Price?

Cryptocurrency mining has really taken off in the past year, with new, with increasingly more efficient hardware hitting the market every few months. Bitcoin is mined using pieces of hardware known as ASICs, or Application Specific Integrated Circuits. These machines can perform mining calculations thousands of times faster than consumer grade hardware, making them an attractive choice for people looking to open large-scale operations. In addition to hardware costs, miners also need to worry about the electrical costs of running that many machines – hence the exodus to locations with cheaper electricity and cooler climates.

Bitcoin’s current bear trend doesn’t seem to discourage miners, however. Since January, the price has fallen well over 60 percent. yet the hash rate – the total computing power of the network – has nearly tripled from 13 EH/s to just around 37 EH/s. The hash rate is a good indicator of the overall security of the network – the higher the hash rate, the more difficult it is for someone to launch an attack.

One would think that a more secure network would be more valuable, but the market doesn’t really seem to care. We’ll see how the price reacts to this consistent hash power increase over the next few months.

What do you think about these large-scale mining operations? Do you think the current bitcoin mining landscape is too centralized? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Blockchain.info, Bitcoinist Archives, Shutterstock

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Čvn 02

ASUS Releases Crypto-Mining Motherboard Supporting 20 GPUs

· June 1, 2018 · 8:00 pm

Altcoin mining has gained huge popularity over the past year as people use high-end GPUs to secure networks, and major computer part makers are taking notice, developing products for this emerging market. Now a manufacturer has released a motherboard that can support 20 GPUs.


Better Hardware for Miners

ASUS announced the H370 Mining Master earlier this week, boasting the ability to support a whopping 20 graphics cards. This motherboard is specifically built for cryptocurrency miners, and the design was done in a way that allows for much more efficient connectivity by letting USB riser cables plug directly into the PCB ports rather than PCIe.

H370 Mining Master

This motherboard aims to make maintenance on fickle GPU mining rigs much easier, as the company stated that this new format is much better than adding GPUs via PCIe. This motherboard also has drastic improvements to diagnostics, an essential tool for miners.

The mining industry already has a razor-thin profit margin, and if your cards aren’t hashing what they’re supposed to be hashing, you’re losing money. High uptime is one of the top concerns for all miners.

Price Spikes for PC Hardware

Ever since the initial big altcoin boom in early/ mid-2017, GPU shortages have been commonplace for most popular online retailers. As manufacturers struggle to keep up with demand, GPU prices have risen hundreds of dollars for top-of-the-line hardware. Gamers have been outraged as well, as they’ve been unable to get the components needed for the latest, and most graphics-intensive, games at reasonable prices.

Cryptocurrency mining rigs

Along with the price gouging, however, cryptocurrency mining has opened a huge potential market for existing hardware manufacturers. Rumor has it that NVIDIA and AMD are working to build their own cryptocurrency mining ASICs to compete with current Bitcoin mining companies. The addition of two major tech giants would definitely provide some much-needed market competition.

Are you mining any coins on your home PC? Are you interested in a motherboard that supports a whopping 20 GPUs? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of ASUS, Amazon, and Shutterstock.

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Kvě 14

Nvidia Expects 2/3 Decrease in Sales to Crypto Miners in The Next Quarter

· May 13, 2018 · 7:00 pm

Nvidia announced that they had a successful 1st quarter in terms of sales, in part due to the fact that cryptocurrency-related sales boosted their revenues by 10%. Despite the good news, Nvidia expects that the sales generated by cryptocurrency enthusiasts will decrease by over ⅔ over the 2nd quarter, which ends in 2 months.


Nvidia’s Growing Business: Did Crypto Sales Help?

Nvidia’s Thursday release of their Q1 financial reports has shown that their revenues have gone up from $1.9 billion in Q1 of last year to a staggering $3.2 billion during this year’s first quarter. The latter figure is a ~$300 million dollar increase in revenue compared to the figures reported in Q4 of last year.

The other statements and figures given by Nvidia in their earnings call were also positive but did not meet all analysts’ expectations, as the price tumbled over 2.5% during after-hours trading. Jim Cramer, a popular financial analyst and personality, quickly jumped on analysts’ statements, calling them “total joker chowderhead analysts,” in an attempt to call off their allegedly unrealistically high expectations of the company.

The 10% in revenue growth since Q4 was quickly attributed to cryptocurrency mining sales which became so prevalent in the latter half of 2017 and the start of 2018. Hardware sold by Nvidia to miners over Q1 was revealed to have generated $289 million for the market leader in the computer hardware industry.

Taking a tally of the company’s profits overall, the $289 million generated by cryptocurrency sales have accounted for just around 9% of Nvidia’s total sales during the first fiscal quarter of the year. Considering the worldwide impact which Nvidia has, a 9% portion of the company’s revenues is quite substantial.

Nvidia’s Q1 cryptocurrency miner sales were actually above the expected amount, with a quantitative financial investment firm, Susquehanna, and its analysts expecting that sales brought in by the cryptocurrency industry would amount to a relatively small $200 million in a best-case scenario. This means that the figure revealed by Nvidia execs was over 44% higher than the anticipated figure. A welcome surprise, that’s for sure.

Is The GPU Mining Market Slowing?

Despite this good news, Nvidia expects for the $289 million made by sales to miners to drop by over ⅔ by the end of Q2 of this year.

Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, acknowledged the help cryptocurrencies had on Nvidia’s profits in a statement made during the earnings call with CNBC. Huang stated:

Crypto miners bought a lot of our GPUs in the quarter and it drove prices up,

For those who are unaware, the demand for GPUs over the course of the past year for mining purposes has caused the PC enthusiast community to go into an outrage over the current high prices, not to mention the lack of supply.

Cryptocurrency mining rigs

It is now clear that 2017 and early 2018 saw a multitude of cryptocurrency mining operations, individuals and corporations alike, buying as many GPUs as they could get their hands on. Although retailers did their best to prevent GPU shortages, by implementing restrictions on buyers, in the end, many mining companies still got their hands on the equipment.

Despite the rush of last year’s market, the GPU mining market has been slowing down as mining costs have gone up while profits have been decreasing, not a combination you want to see as a miner. As hype for GPU mining begins to subside, prices and supply for graphics cards will begin to return to numbers which resemble the MSRP prices.

This is not the only bad news for GPU miners worldwide. Bitmain’s announcement of 3 brand new ASIC miners which run on the Equihash, ETHhash, and Cryptonite algorithms have threatened the existence of the GPU mining industry. These ASICs provide an exponentially higher hashrate per dollar and watt of energy compared to traditional GPU processes.  However, ASICs have been rejected by a large majority of the cryptocurrency community as many see ASICs as a threat to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies.

The GPU mining community has been quick to jump on the announcements of the ASICs, calling for developers of GPU-mineable coins to fork away from ASICs. Despite the cries of the community,  Ethereum and ZCash’s developers have chosen to abstain or delay a fork away from ASIC miners.

With the threat of ASIC miners looming not too far in the distance, it is understandable to see Nvidia’s expectations that its cryptocurrency profits will take a beating. But the future could still be bright for Nvidia as they move into an era where technology use will become increasingly prevalent. In fact, Jim Cramer even called Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, the “Einstein of our era.”

Will BitMain shutdown the GPU mining industry? Do you think that Nvidia has a future as a mainstay in the cryptocurrency GPU mining industry? Please let us know in the comments below.


Images Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/@Nvidia Corporation, Shutterstock, and Twitter/@business.

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Kvě 12

Bitcoin to Reach $64,000 in 2019, Based on Mining Economy, Says Fundstrat

· May 11, 2018 · 7:00 pm

Based on analysis of the bitcoin mining economy, the world’s most well-known cryptocurrency could reach as high as $64,000 USD by the end of next year.


Bitcoin Miners Do the Selling

According to independent research boutique Fundstrat, which provides market strategy and sector research, the bitcoin mining boom could potentially send the dominant cryptocurrency by market capitalization to upwards of $64,000 USD by the end of 2019. States the company’s head of research, Sam Doctor, in a report:

We believe the current path of hash power growth supports a BTC price of about $36,000 by 2019 year end, with a $20,000-$64,000 range.

Bitcoin is infamously volatile, creating FOMOers and naysayers on what feels like a weekly basis. Nevertheless, Fundstrat believes the economics behind bitcoin mining create key support levels — since bitcoin miners are less likely to sell their rewards during market downturns, and more likely to cash out during bull runs. Explained Doctor in a conference call to CNBC on Thursday:

The primary net sellers, in our view, are bitcoin miners, and the rest are transactions between investors.

Fundstrat has estimated that the current cash break-even price Antminer S7 models is $6,003 USD per bitcoin. The newer and more powerful Antminer S9, however, features a much lower break-even point at $2,368 USD. Both popular pieces of bitcoin mining hardware are manufactured by Bitmain, which boasted an operating profit between 3 billion USD to 4 billion USD in 2017. Doctor said:

The release of the next generation of rig hardware should trigger a new round of capex as well as hash power growth, which could accelerate if BTC price appreciates.

According to CBNC, Fundstrat co-founder Tom Lee is the only major Wall Street strategist to cover Bitcoin.

Lee previously predicted last July that Bitcoin may reach $20,000 to $55,000 by 2022. At the time of that prediction, bitcoin was trading at $2,540. Lee also noted that bitcoin could become a viable substitute for gold.

Do you think bitcoin can reach upwards of 64,000 USD by the end of next year? Do you think the miners’ break-even point is indeed a key support level? Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Twitter/@fundstratQuant, Twitter/@@fundstrat.

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Úno 21

Tesla’s Amazon Cloud Account Hacked to Mine Cryptocurrency

· February 21, 2018 · 10:30 am

Tesla, the automotive company, was the victim of a cryptojacking attack as their Amazon cloud account was compromised and used to mine cryptocurrency.


Even the largest and most technologically advanced companies can be vulnerable to being hacked. Case in point is the pioneering electric car company, Tesla, owned by tech billionaire Elon Musk. They were recently the target of a cryptojacking attack that saw their Amazon cloud account compromised and used to mine cryptocurrency.

Tesla car

Security Not up to Snuff

A hacker, or group of hackers, hijacked an IT administrative console belonging to Tesla that had no password protection. The cybercriminals then used sophisticated scripts to begin mining for cryptocurrency.

The hack was discovered by RedLock, a cybersecurity firm. Apparently, researchers for RedLock were tracking down which groups had left their Amazon Web Services credentials openly exposed on the internet. One of the groups that RedLock found was Tesla.

Of the hack, a Tesla spokesman says:

We maintain a bug bounty program to encourage this type of research, and we addressed this vulnerability within hours of learning about it..

The impact seems to be limited to internally used engineering test cars only, and our initial investigation found no indication that customer privacy or vehicle safety or security was compromised in any way.

Crafty Hackers

RedLock notes that the hackers exposed an Amazon “simple storage service” (S3) bucket that held telemetry, mapping, and vehicle servicing data for Tesla. It appears that individual information was not accessed, but the CEO of RedLock, Varun Badhwar, says that they “didn’t try to dig in too much” and instead alerted the car company.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Badhwar says that the hackers were pretty crafty in hiding their tracks. They made sure to lower the CPU usage demanded by the Stratum software they were using for cryptocurrency mining. This allowed the mining to be virtually undetected. The hackers also kept their internet addresses secret by hiding behind the services of a content delivery service, CloudFlare.

Overall, it is unknown what cryptocurrency the hackers mined for. The current popular choice is Monero. The amount of cryptocurrency mined by the hackers is also unknown.

For their efforts, RedLock were given $3,133.70 by Tesla as part of the company’s bounty program to reward outside hackers who find flaws in their system. The amount is a reference to 1337, which is old hacker slang for elite.

Tesla is not alone in being the victim of cryptojacking. RedLock estimates that 58% of businesses that use public cloud services have exposed “at least one cloud storage device” to the public. Of that amount, the cybersecurity firm says a full 8% have had cryptojacking incidents.

Do you think companies like Tesla can do more to protect themselves from cryptojacking attacks? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Flickr/@Maurizio Pesce, Pixabay, and Flickr/@JD Lasica.

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Led 04

Over 860,000 Have Signed Up to Mine the Venezuelan Petro

· January 4, 2018 · 6:30 am

President Nicolas Maduro announces that 860,811 young people have registered to mine the Petro, the new national cryptocurrency of Venezuela.


Paper Virtually Worthless

Economically, Venezuela has been in terrible shape for a number of years. The failed socialist policies of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro have destroyed the national economy, caused massive hyperinflation, and led to a humanitarian crisis where food and medicine are in short supply.

In such times, many have turned to mining Bitcoin in order to survive, but such individualistic practices are not supported by the national government. Maduro declared last December the creation of a national cryptocurrency called the Petro, and he recently announced that 860,811 young people have registered to mine the new virtual currency.

Mandatory Registry and the Creation of the Petro

It was just last month that Bitcoin miners had to join an online registry in order to legally keep mining. Some argued that the registry offered legal protection to miners. However, some cynical folks thought that such a registry would just serve to give the state a list of names and places to keep tabs on and, possibly, eventually confiscate mining tech. There have been quite a few reports of police and government authorities seizing mining computers and using them for their own gain.

Into the economic maelstrom of woe came a new hope. President Maduro announced in December 2017 the creation of the Petro cryptocurrency. This new virtual currency would allow the country to help negate the effects of US-led sanctions and would be based on the country’s stock of gold and diamond holdings, as well as over 5 billion barrels of oil. In his announcement of the Petro, Maduro said:

Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency … the ‘petro’, to advance issues of monetary sovereignty, make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade … This is going to allow us to move toward new forms of international financing for the country’s economic and social development.

Crude Oil to Support Venezuela’s Petro Cryptocurrency

Tapping the Youth

It appears that Venezuela is going full-bore on mining Petro. Supposedly 860,811 young people have signed up to begin mining the cryptocurrency. The government seems focused on incorporating young people into the project, probably due to their increased familiarity with the crypto world. These young people are going to be tasked with setting up mining farms.

Of this project, President Maduro notes:

We are going to call them, a special cryptocurrency team, to set up mining criptomenoda farms in all the states and municipalities of the country.

So it appears that the government will be setting up their own mining farms. One wonders how many confiscated computers are being used for such an endeavor. Of the over 860K signups, it’s reported that 300,000 are already in “productive tasks,” whatever that means. It would be interesting to see how many of the over 860K signups also appeared on the mandatory registry list.

What do you think about the Petro mining project? Will the coin achieve any level of value? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Shutterstock

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