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Chia Crypto Plotting Can Destroy an SSD in Weeks

Micron
(Image credit: Micron)

Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum mining, Chia cryptocurrency farming does not require expensive accelerators or graphics cards. Yet, it still may be quite an expensive way of getting cryptocurrency as it requires fast SSDs to create plots and high-capacity HDDs to store those plots. Furthermore, since consumer-grade SSDs are not designed for write-intensive workloads (something that our avid readers know well), they can easily fail after weeks of 'plotting,' so one has to choose hardware for Chia farming wisely.

The creation of Chia plots is the most time-consuming task when it comes to Chia farming, so the use of fast SSDs in RAID mode is something that makes a lot of sense from performance and timing perspectives. However, not all SSDs are good enough for this workload. Inexpensive consumer-grade 1TB SSDs these days come with approximately 600TBW (terabytes to be written) endurance rating, which equals to about 0.3 drive writes per day (DWPD) over five years.

For client PC workloads, this is more than sufficient, but plotting Chia uses loads of writes, so a cheap 512GB SSD can be trashed in 40 days, reports MyDrivers. A higher capacity drive featuring a similar DWPD rating would have lasted longer, for about 160 days.

Roman 'der8auer' Hartung released a video about how to properly build a Chia farming rig. He did confirm that using SSDs for plotting makes a lot of sense, since it's considerably faster than using HDDs for the same workload. He noted that for Chia farming and plot creation, it is crucial to choose SSDs with a high TBW and DWPD ratings, since they are more suitable for the task.

However, there is a catch. SSDs with a high TBW and DWPD rating are usually aimed at datacenters and are priced appropriately as they have a number of enterprise-grade features and sometimes come with higher-quality flash memory. Using them for mining may not be exactly financially viable. Recently, TeamGroup introduced SSDs specially designed for Chia mining that have a high TBW rating, but do not support any functionality one comes to expect from a datacenter SSD.

Speaking of financial feasibility, it should be noted that retail prices of high-capacity HDDs and SSDs have increased significantly in the last few weeks, and many popular models have gone missing. With elevated hardware prices, Chia farming may not be as lucrative as it used to be just a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, it does not look like actual short-term profitability will stop the ongoing Chia craze as many people hope that a future increase in the cryptocurrency's price will offset any hardware costs.

  • A Stoner
    Would a computer with 512GB memory be able to create plots without damaging the disk?
    Reply
  • lvt
    A Stoner said:
    Would a computer with 512GB memory be able to create plots without damaging the disk?

    Regardless what size your SSD has, its lifespan is limited and the SSD must be replaced.
    Reply
  • A Stoner
    lvt said:
    Regardless what size your SSD has, its lifespan is limited and the SSD must be replaced.
    I am thinking of having the whole chia plot done inside of memory and not on hard disk. Does it allow that? Many workstations and servers have 512GB of memory...
    Reply
  • frodoitsmyname
    A Stoner said:
    I am thinking of having the whole chia plot done inside of memory and not on hard disk. Does it allow that? Many workstations and servers have 512GB of memory...
    yes you can, just watch the video from der8auer. It's just not very useful because you can only do one plot at a time
    Reply
  • Toadster88
    so a new Intel P5800X with 100DWPD would last how long?
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    Stop. Just stop already.

    All of the large capacity NVME SSDs I had on my Amazon wishlist have gone up at least 25% in price or are out of stock now. We don't need storage becoming just as hard to get and overpriced as GPUs are.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Toadster88 said:
    so a new Intel P5800X with 100DWPD would last how long?
    It would last the entire 5 year warranty period. 5800x drives are rated to be able to write the entire capacity of the drive 100 times a day. If you had an 800GB drive, you would be able to plot 3 plots at a time which uses about 1.4TB each, so you wouldn't be remotely close to the daily write limit.
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    Even more incentive for creation of malware mining this crap. Just great.
    Reply
  • mikeebb
    Optane (yes, I know, unobtainium - unless you're a huge datacenter...)?

    I wonder if Mr. Stoner is on to something. A compute server with a TB of RAM is certainly possible if your pockets are deep enough. Why would doing it all in RAM be limited to one plot at a time?

    Even if it is limited to one plot at a time regardless of how much RAM you throw at it, what's wrong with having a cluster of 512GB computer chewing away? It's just power and pollution, right?

    And yes, I agree, I don't look forward to the malware that will jump on this. Watch your disk activity light...

    EDIT: how does the power use of Chia production compare to Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, etc. mining? I could see an article on this, though maybe not in Tom's.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    mikeebb said:
    I wonder if Mr. Stoner is on to something. A compute server with a TB of RAM is certainly possible if your pockets are deep enough. Why would doing it all in RAM be limited to one plot at a time?
    It isn't. It depends on how much you have. Deb8uer tested a system with 512GB of RAM. Each plot requires about 240GiB of capacity, so you could probably do 2 plots at a time with enough left over to keep the system up and running. The problem is the extreme upfront cost of that much RAM. Spending $3500 on RAM alone to be able to maybe do 2 plots at a time, you'd never recover the money you were putting in. 1 TB SSD is around $100. For the cost of 512GB of RAM, ignoring the cost of the rest of the system to support that much, you could buy over 30 SSD's.
    Reply