Stan Higgins | Published on August 4, 2014 at 13:32 BST
The developmental pace of bitcoin mining, both in terms of its scale and complexity, has been as fast and revolutionary as the rise of the price of the digital currency itself. From hobby computers built in basements to vast warehouses of ASICs, the mining industry has seen tremendous change in a relatively short period of time.
How bitcoin mining will evolve in the years ahead remains to be seen, but one thread in the broader fabric of the industry currently is the growth of businesses that provide power and hosting services for owners of existing hardware.
One such company is HashPlex, the owner and operator of a brand-new data center located in Seattle, Washington, which opened its doors to customers on 28th July and offers one year or longer contracts for miners seeking more affordable power resources.
A first for mining
HashPlex’s facility is the first purpose-built data center for digital currency mining – including both bitcoin and altcoins based on other hashing algorithms – incorporating a customer-facing approach that includes a cloud-based user interface. Additionally, it is also the first company that enables miners with existing hardware to house their equipment in a dedicated, third-party facility.
The launch comes just a month or so after the company received $400,000 in seed capital from a notable group of investors that included Bitcoin Opportunity Corp founder and entrepreneur Barry Silbert and Facebook senior engineer Jason Prado.
Founder and CEO Bernie Rihn told CoinDesk in an interview that every aspect of the data center was approached from the unique perspective of cryptocurrency mining, saying:
“Everything from the dirt, to the steel through the the roof, [to] the electrical systems – it’s all designed. We have our own custom power management system as well.”
Notably, the company utilizes renewable energy sources to provide power, making the 1 megawatt (MW) facility a greener alternative to traditional electricity sources.
While offering hardware management and power facilitation for miners, HashPlex enables its customers to direct their hashing power and monitor its performance remotely through the cloud user interface.
As shown in a demo provided by HashPlex, the interface is a visual improvement over the command-line style mining that many hobby-scale owners are accustomed to.
According to Rihn, the goal is to provide the user with as much as information as possible, including hashrates, core temperatures and overall history. Users can also choose reboot thresholds to optimize performance and set back-up pools in case their first selection goes down or becomes unaccessible.
Green approach to mining
HashPlex’s new centre benefits from the availability of hydropower, which the facility utilizes for 80% of its power output. The site does rely on some net carbon-producing electrical sources, but the firm says that, in the future, that percentage of renewable energy sources it uses will increase.
Beyond the environmental impact, tapping renewable sources like hydropower gives a company like HashPlex an efficiency advantage. Rihn told CoinDesk that as a result, the HashPlex facility is at least five to 10 times as efficient as a traditionally designed data center.
Rihn commented that this is the natural progression of the industry, as renewable sources are seeing as a viable – and necessary – source of energy for mining operations. He contested the notion that the environmental costs of bitcoin mining are a long-term issue, saying:
“Anybody who says that bitcoin mining is a carbon footprint nightmare is mistaken, in that a lot of bitcoin mining in the future will done where the power is very cheap.”
Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of any of the companies mentioned. Please do your own extensive research before considering investing any funds in these products.
Hydroelectric power station image via Shutterstock