Inside Iceland massive bitcoin mine

why has a chili island in the north

atlantic become a crucial frontier in

the occult

high-stakes world of cryptocurrency

mining an unremarkable looking cluster

of sheds on the western cluster of the

nordic nation

might just hold the answer so join us

today as we follow the money and take a

peek inside iceland’s insane bitcoin

superman

about a decade ago the first proper

real-world bitcoin transaction took

place

when one laszlo hagnex infamously

purchased two

hot and juicy papa john’s pizzas for ten

thousand bitcoins

those ten thousand coins were only worth

at the time around forty dollars

delicious as the pizzas no doubt were if

he’d only kept hold of those bitcoins

they’d by now be worth somewhere north

of 280 million dollars

created by a shadowy mysterious figure

or perhaps group

going by the name of satoshi nakamoto

bitcoin is one of a number of

cryptocurrencies that are created via

computer processes

which use raw mathematics and sheer

computational horsepower to underwrite

the value of transactions

as opposed to conventional monetary

systems which are backed by central

banks

cryptocurrencies rely on the

mathematical certitude of a

decentralized ledger

known as a blockchain cryptocurrencies

are ingeniously summoned into being by a

process of so-called

mining instead of shovels and pickaxes

modern-day cryptocurrency miners

simply require an internet-linked

computer that can solve or hash

big number problems which are then added

to the blockchain

back in the day crypto pioneers could

run humble mining operations on home

laptops

extracting coins almost as a background

process for instance while they slept

fast forward to today however and that

sort of amateur setup simply doesn’t cut

it anymore

vast server farm style operations have

sprung up around the world

to take advantage of what many have

described as a modern day gold rush

one such operation is situated within a

series of ordinary looking sheds

by an abandoned world war ii airstrip on

a sprawling former u.s

air force base near keflavik airport in

the west of iceland

inside the 400 square meter sheds are

shelves and shelves of whirring

computers

reportedly as loud when they’re running

in full flow as a jet engine taking off

and they’re always running working hard

to crack the next code and acquire the

next precious cryptocurrency bounty

ahead of competition all over the world

its rivals are everywhere

literally wherever there’s an internet

connection but most notably in places

like russia

china canada venezuela and the united

states

every ten minutes roughly a prize of six

and a quarter bitcoins is released and

someone

somewhere will get lucky the more

computer power you have on your site

naturally the luckier you’re likely to

get this icelandic operation called

enigma

and run by eight-year-old cryptocurrency

bigwigs genesis was established in 2014.

the last time journalists paid a visit

in 2018

there were tens of thousands of

individual computers working flat out

around the clock mining coins

each of the many thousands of identical

units boasted its own fan

and the ceiling of the sheds were

supported by six giant ceiling turbines

that were 24

7 with the combined mechanical force of

260 washing machines

this constant cool airflow is essential

to keep the computational hardware at

optimal working temperatures

that’s because any burnout or

interruption to the mining process

literally costs money with individual

coins trading at many hundreds of

dollars

potentially millions are at stake so for

the technicians overseeing the enigma

facility

failure really isn’t an option the

electricity bills at enigma reportedly

run to more than a million dollars a

month

and with each computing unit costing a

few thousand dollars to buy and install

there’s tens of millions of pounds in

assets humming away constantly

no wonder security is tight not least

since a major spree of thefts a couple

of years back

saw some two million dollars of crypto

mining tech taken from their rightful

owners in a series of raids around

iceland

it’s worth looking at these computers in

detail because they’re actually a far

cry from the standard pcs you use at

home or work

instead each unit consists of a main

board and into each main board is

plugged six gpus or graphics processing

units

crypto mining experts have found that

these gpus are

far more efficient at the kind of

lightning fast number crunching required

to solve those all-important hashing

problems take a market standard gpu like

a radeon brand

hd5970 it can execute some 3200

32-bit instructions per clock that’s 800

times more than the speed of a regular

cpu

or central processing unit that executes

only four 32-bit instructions per clock

logistically getting hold of the many

thousands of gpus has proven tough

particularly in a competitive

marketplace so companies like genesis

frequently order direct from the

manufacturer even insisting on

modifications to the boards in order to

improve efficiency and manage costs at

scale

for their enigma facility in iceland

genesis have also created a dedicated

smart hardware monitoring software known

as genesis hive

this is important if part of your giant

mining system goes down

you really don’t want to be personally

going around each of the tens of

thousands of computers

all of them with six gpus your soldering

iron and screwdriver in hand to identify

that one annoying dodgy wire

the hive software also makes

recommendations for firmware updates and

keeps an eye on those all important

temperatures

advising when a region of the facility

is drifting outside agreed tolerances

genesis set up their enigma facility in

iceland partly because the temperatures

are low

rarely going above 57 degrees fahrenheit

imagine trying to cool all that

processing power in the middle of a

desert

indeed some genesis competitors have

argued it’s possible

in places like texas where regulations

are lacks and energy is cheap

but nonetheless it’s very hard to

imagine the facilities running at

anything like optimal efficiency using

the technology

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