Chia cryptocurrency mining is already killing SSDs en masse

Posted on Monday, May 10 2021 @ 11:14 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Last month we wrote about Chia, a hot new cryptocurrency that uses a proof of space model. One of the biggest implications here is that Chia doesn't use CPUs, ASICs, or GPUs for mining. Instead, Chia needs a ton of hard disk drives and solid state disks. For weeks, there have been worries about the lifespan of SSDs as Chia requires a lot of IO operations. Now some figures are emerging... and they don't paint a rosy picture.

Chia mining causing SSDs to fail

Citing a report from Chinese-language MyDrivers, TechPowerUp reports Chinese miners are already seeing failures on large numbers of SSDs. As you may know, NAND flash memory is fast but one of the downsides of the technology is that each cell can only be re-written a finite number of times. Over the years, this number has decreased as manufacturers switched to MLC, TLC, and even QLC technology.

So how long do SSDs last when you use them for Chia farming? According to the report, a typical 256GB SSD lasts just 40 days, and a 512GB model offers about double the lifespan. The figure varies significantly based on the SSD brand and type of memory used, but it's clear that we're not talking about years of lifespan here if you use an SSD for Chia mining.
MyDrivers notes that Chia farmers in China are noticing that typical 256 GB SSDs barely last through 40 drive-write days, 80 days for 512 GB, and about 160 days for 1 TB. Endurance varies among the various SSD brands, and NAND flash type used. Since disk space, and not drive performance is paramount in farming Chia, and magnetic storage devices such as HDDs offer more re-writing, stocks of high-capacity HDDs, including those typically headed to the NVR and security surveillance markets, are being soaked up by Chia farmers. -- TechPowerUp
Should Chia get a lot more popular, this will undoubtedly have a major impact on the storage market. In China, there are already reports about disks being hard to find as miners buy up high volumes to rush in on the Chia craze.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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