A quick primer on Chia: It's supposed to be more environmentally friendly than Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies because it uses a less energy-intensive Proof of Time and Space model that relies on "plots" of storage rather than the Proof of Work model that requires high-end equipment to do complex math.
The amount of storage devoted to Chia is staggering. Chia Explorer's figures put its netspace at roughly 24 EiB at time of writing; it was at 16.55 EiB on June 3. For reference, a single EiB is equivalent to 1,152,921,504,606,846,976 bytes decimal. That's an inconceivable amount of space—and yet Chia's growth hasn't slowed.
All that storage has to come from somewhere, of course, and manufacturers like WD and Seagate have reportedly started to increase HDD production in response to Chia's popularity. Others have modified the warranties of their consumer products to reflect the fact that farming the cryptocurrency is tough on mainstream drives.
This brings us to Backblaze. The company said it experimented with Chia farming on its cloud storage platform "for the many Chia farmers out there who’ve already delved into farming and are now facing empty shelves as they seek out storage solutions for their plots." (Read: It saw a hole in the market and wanted to fill it.)
It took some tinkering, but the company said it was eventually able to make its platform compatible with Chia's model, which effectively selects a winning "plot" at random from its entire network. The more storage a farmer devotes to the network, the better their chances of winning, which is why the netspace has grown so much.
There are two important caveats. The first is that, while Backblaze said Chia farmers can store their plots on its B2 platform, the initial creation of those plots still has to happen locally. That means anyone hoping to get into this crypto currency will still need a PC with a solid performance -- perhaps one of the best Chia plotting PC builds -- to make the plots.
The second caveat is Backblaze's assertion that pricing Chia plot storage at $5 per TB per month can still be profitable has a lot of asterisks. Chia Calculator's simple estimate puts the current monthly earnings at $6.43 with the 10 plots that will fit on that amount of storage. Those are already pretty slim earnings.
But things look even worse using Chia Calculator's advanced tool, which takes the netspace's growth into account. Using the calculator's default values returns an estimated total earnings figure of $7.52 over the course of six months with 10 plots. We're pretty sure that spending $30 to make $7.52 doesn't count as making a profit.
Backblaze doesn't seem to expect Chia farmers to be fazed by those figures, though, because it warned Chia farmers that they'll be limited to 100TB of storage unless they reach out to its sales team. Instructions for uploading a Chia plot to the company's B2 platform are available via the "b2fs4chia" repository on GitHub.