Chia: Stop Farming with Consumer SSDs or Stop Complaining About Endurance

Hard drives and Chia seeds, a match made in storage hell
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s no secret that farming Chia might drastically reduce an SSD’s lifespan. The company behind the cryptocurrency published a blog post on Monday that effectively gave wannabe Chia farmers two options: Either stop farming on consumer SSDs or stop complaining about the endurance of those drives.

”The Chia team and community advocate using data center class SSDs or consumer drives meant for high-end desktops and workstations with a high TBW endurance rating for the plotting process,” Chia Network VP of Storage Business Development Jonmichael Hands said. “If a user selects a high-endurance data center SSD, they can plot for up to 10 years before wearing out the device during the plotting process.”

Hands said that consumer-grade SSDs are designed to handle much less intensive tasks, which explains why it’s possible to wear out a cheap 512GB drive in as little as 40 days by farming Chia on it. That reduced lifespan combined with Chia’s high price could lead to a storage shortage as miners rush to farm as much of the cryptocurrency as they can before the market corrects itself (or consumer SSDs become more expensive.)

Hands also quoted a relevant tweet from Chia Network founder Bram Cohen:

Bram Cohen Tweets about Chia

(Image credit: Twitter)

That doesn’t necessarily mean that all consumer SSDs lack the grit required to farm Chia. “The Chia team realizes that consumer SSDs are the ones that are generally available,” Hands explained, “and there are some models that have enough endurance where users can plot all the farming capacity they have and still have a surplus of endurance.” But it’s up to aspiring farmers to find the best SSDs for farming, which we address in our guide on how to farm Chia.

The messaging is clear, though: There’s little Chia Network can—or at least will—do to make farming Chia less intensive. That puts the onus on would-be farmers to find whichever drives hit their desired performance, durability, and return on investment. It might not be the most satisfying response, but at least the company was direct about who should take the blame when a given SSD starts to fail.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

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.

  • lvt
    Well it's like driving your daily commute car on a F1 piste at high speed, one moment or another the engine will quite on you.
  • hotaru.hino
    Of course people who see nothing but gold in their eyes won't understand the limitations of tech and demand we substitute reality for their own. 🙃
  • Rdslw
    so 25$ drive works for 40 days earning propably 100$ and then dies. I have no idea what are the power costs, I bet some of those still can double their value, so they will continue to be used like that.
  • velocityg4
    The cheap consumer SSD are wasteful for this anyways. Their performance is horrible when doing a lot of writes. Once their cache fills up, they tank. You're better off buying a bunch of small used hard drives on the cheap. Creating one plot per drive.

    I've been toying with it since I have a lot of extra storage. While it's too late to make much money. I may as well let the drives partially pay for themselves and destroy plots when I need more space for my file server.

    Anyways, I've found a single old 7200RPM drive beat the plot time of a cheap SSD. It takes about 12 hours on the same system (i5 3570K, 16GB RAM) with the same plot settings vs 14 to 16 with a cheap SSD. I've even set them to plot at the same time, thinking I was wrong, and the 7200 RPM drives would pull out ahead. Hitting 100% complete when the SSD was around 70%.

    Using two 7200RPM drives in RAID 0 takes 8 to 10 hours (i5-2400). That's getting closer to the times of my Samsung 980 (i5-11400) and dual Samsung 870 Evo in RAID 0 (i5-11400). Just as good as my Crucial X8 using USB 3.1 Gen 2 (i5-11400). That's with everything set to the default two threads 3.5GB RAM. Obviously the good SSD pull out with more threads. But it reduces the number of simultaneous plots my CPU can handle. The cheap SSD it didn't matter how many threads or how much RAM I gave it.

    To be fair each of those high performance SSD are working two to three plots at a time, staggered. That just means with a bunch of cheap old HDD set in RAID 0 pairs. Working one plot each. You can get close to a decent sustained write SSD. All for a lot less money without worrying about wear. You just need the ports.

    For anyone curious about heavy write performance. Two 512GB Samsung 870 Evo in RAID 0 beats a single 1TB Samsung 980 in plotting. A Crucial X8 1TB is really disappointing.
  • spentshells
    I like this scam
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    Chia, like all CryptoCurrency, can go take along walk off a short cliff.

    What a waste of Electricity/Hardware/Resources.
  • gg83
    What if there is a conspiracy of crypto mining/farming where its all a cover to steal processing power for something.
  • zodiacfml
    what is with all the Chia articles? does this have a mining pool otherwise too risky
  • GoofyOne
    Yes the problem with most SSD's is that they throttle and become much slower after their cache fills up. Fast HDD's in RAID 0 sounds like a good option, or you could even get some cheap second hand 12Gbps SAS server HDD, and put those in a RAID 0 array.

    Alot of the PCIe RAID controllers will work with SAS or SATA drives. The SAS drives are often 10k or 15k rpm, though I am not sure how that affects their read and write performance. It's all 6 of one and half a dozen of the other which way you go.

    I was reading the other day about guys who are using secondhand servers, with 64GB memory and decent Intel Xeon cpu's to do up to 42 plots per day.

    In the end, it all depends how much money you want to throw at it and risk on it.

    {GoofyOne's 2c worth ... which may or may not be actually worth 2c}
  • spentshells
    gg83 said:
    What if there is a conspiracy of crypto mining/farming where its all a cover to steal processing power for something.
    I sure hope so, but just so it would be fun!