Bitcoin's Capacity and Security Challenges

Posted by Instor on Jun 15, 2017 6:51:00 AM

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are hot topics these days. With more and more compute power being dedicated to Bitcoin mining, we take a look at the major concerns for data centers - namely power, heat and processing capabilities. 

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Image: Cafe Credit

All About Crypto: Bitcoin and Data Centers

Since the very first Bitcoin transaction in 2009, the emerging currency has remained a controversial topic both as a technology and a concept. Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency that allows peer-to-peer secure transactions without a centralized authority. Quite a bit of processing power is required to keep track of the transactions. Every day, more data centers are stepping up to provide support for Bitcoin processing, but this comes with its own unique requirements and challenges.

Blockchain, Bitcoin Mining and Data Centers

Bitcoin maintains its records in a centralized ledger called a blockchain. The same blockchain needs to be maintained throughout the network to have a cohesive record. Complex mathematical computations are used to validate the transactions. Computers that provide the processing power for these validations are rewarded with coins. This process is called bitcoin mining.

At first, anyone could provide their spare CPU power to earn coins. Soon users realized that using their graphics card (GPU) increased their earning potentials. Over the years, Bitcoin mining has moved from GPU to field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). These advances have produced more professional results. Today, Bitcoin mining is moving to data centers to produce industrial-level outputs. China’s Bitmain 135MW data center and Sweden’s KnC Miner’s 10MW data center were built exclusively for Bitcoin mining purposes.

Data Center Challenges

Bitcoin mining comes with a unique set of challenges. Traditional data centers are generally concerned with reliability and high-availability. When it comes to serving Bitcoin needs, it is more important to look at power, heat and processing capacity.

Power Consumption and Heat Concerns

Bitcoin mining is a power hungry process. So, low-cost power access is important. Bitcoin data centers are often located near power plants with excess production or in areas where electricity is government subsidized. It can make a huge difference in the bottom line of the data center.

Also, high-intensity processing can heat up the servers. So, the mining servers need the best-in-class cooling equipment to prevent overheating. Immersion cooling - a liquid cooling technique - is often necessary to keep the servers functioning.

Trading Reliability for Processing Capacity

With enterprise customers, server downtimes and data persistence are big concerns. But with bitcoin mining, the main emphasis is on providing processing power at peak performance levels. Data centers with high-density processing and fast deployment capabilities are considered ideal.

Security Issues

Data centers need to have a fluid architecture to support bitcoin production. It is easier to segregate traditional data centers into blocks of services and put security firewalls around it. With bitcoin mining, the security needs to take a more layered approach to provide more granular access.

Bitcoin mining is a competitive business with razor sharp margins. So it is important to understand the bottlenecks for blockchain processing. To thrive in this marketplace, it is necessary to have a  power-optimized data center with high-density processing and flexible security architecture.

Whether you're hosting a Bitcoin mining center or your own company's mission critical data, Instor can help with design, installation and more. Learn more about our capabilities here

 

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Topics: Security, Capacity, Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency