Block announces plans to build an open-source bitcoin mining system
Block Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey announced in a tweet Thursday that the payments company is moving ahead with plans to build an open-source bitcoin mining system.
Bitcoin mining is the process by which the bitcoin network is kept secure and new bitcoins are brought into circulation. New transactions on the network are added to the peer-to-peer blockchain ledger by solving complex cryptographic mathematical equations.
Dorsey originally teased the open bitcoin mining system in October, which he also announced on Twitter. At the time he posited that current mining operations were too consolidated and centralized, which he saw was at odds with the decentralized nature of blockchain networks.
Thomas Templeton, Block’s general manager for hardware, went on to explain in a series of tweets the company’s plans for the future mining system would unfold.
“We want to make mining more distributed and efficient in every way, from buying, to set up, to maintenance, to mining,” Templeton wrote. “We’re interested because mining goes far beyond creating new bitcoin. We see it as a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless.”
To determine an approach, Templeton outlined a series of specific technical challenges that Block wants to address, specifically availability, reliability and performance.
According to Templeton, right now mining silicon is difficult to come by and it’s also expensive. Once delivered, most mining systems can require technical knowledge to get working and after that may need to be micromanaged to remain operational. Finally, many mining rigs are obnoxious, noisy things with high power consumption and terrible performance that makes them less than ideal for everyday use.
“Developing products is never a solo journey, and evaluating existing tech is always part of our practice,” Templeton added. “We are interested in performance *and* open-source *and* our own elegant system integration ideas.”
To do this, Block is forming an engineering team led by Afshin Rezayee, Block’s lead of bitcoin mining, that will investigate the company’s own specialized silicon, open-source miner firmware and other system software. Templeton said open roles that remain are electrical engineers, analog engineers and layout engineers.
Templeton also said that the company will continue using feedback from the community as a primary source of research for driving this project.
Block has not given details on when its bitcoin mining system would be available or a timeline of milestones, since it appears that the project is still in its preliminary research stages.
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