The Chia Network released its official pooling protocol yesterday to give Chia Coin farmers a better chance of winning a small amount of the cryptocurrency by collaborating with other farmers instead of competing against them.
Chia is farmed by establishing a "plot" on a storage device—preferably one durable enough to farm the cryptocurrency without risking failure—that contributes to the project's total netspace. The network then issues a "challenge" to a block of plots, and if one of the plots matches that challenge, it "wins" a certain amount of Chia.
The Chia Network said its cryptocurrency's popularity "led to an explosion in netspace from about 100 petabytes at launch to over 30 exabytes today." However, as the netspace continues to expand, the frequency with which a given farmer's plots can be expected to win some Chia coins (XCH) actually shrinks in response.
That's where pooling comes in. "Pools are guaranteed to be able to collect any block rewards which someone currently farming with them finds," The Chia Network said. "There’s a reasonable split of that reward to farmers to incentivize them to claim the reward when they find it." This effectively lets farmers earn less XCH more often.
The Chia Network compared this practice to "lottery insurance" in the Pooling User Guide. Chia farmers willing to risk less frequent payouts that net them more XCH don't have to participate in a pool; those looking for more frequent payouts in exchange for earning less XCH can join forces with similarly minded farmers.
Chia's pooling implementation also enables farmers to move their plots between pools or go back to self-hosting their plots at will. "The worst a pool can do is stiff you of the rewards you should be getting from them," The Chia Network said, "and you can audit whether they’re doing that yourself. They can’t keep you from leaving."
Getting started with pools requires an update to version 1.2.0 of the Chia Blockchain software. The Chia Network said that plots established using previous versions of the software would continue to function, however, so farmers looking to continue minding their own plots don't necessarily have to upgrade if they don't want to.
Anyone curious about farming Chia themselves should learn more about the best Chia plotting PC builds. Just be warned: Even though Chia isn't expanding quite as rapidly as before, storage prices are continuing to rise, which means buying the equipment necessary to frequently win some XCH will still be quite expensive, and like all cryptocurrencies, success is not assured.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.