Nervos Network's layer 1 blockchain, the Common Knowledge Base, relies on Proof of Work (PoW) mining to provide consensus at the bottom-most layer of the ecosystem. PoW mining serves a critical role in the ecosystem, providing both security and decentralization guarantees to the entire ecosystem.
Miners are an important part of the community, and they provide an essential service to Nervos. In exchange for providing this service, they are paid a reward in CKBytes (CKB) to align their interests in a way that benefits all users of the blockchain. Mining can be both fun and profitable, but it also has inherent risks and challenges that are not for everyone. It is important to understand what you're getting into before diving in.
This guide will help those who are interested in mining get started on Nervos. We will discuss the essential basics, such as how to find compatible equipment, the importance of choosing a mining pool, and most importantly, we will point out a few other informational resources that will help you to make your mining operation successful.
Step 1 - Research and Planning
Planning is the most important step in any successful mining operation. Do you have a well-ventilated place where the sound of the miners will not bother anyone? Do you have the proper electrical wiring to support your miners? Are your electricity rates competitive year-round? These are the kinds of questions you need to be able to answer before you start buying equipment.
Many of these considerations and covered in the articles written here and here. There are also many video resources on YouTube that may also help you to get a better idea of what is involved with mining on Nervos. Using free tools like mining calculators can help you to understand what your costs will be. You can ask questions to other miners in the community-run Nervos Mining CKB Telegram channel or in the #mining-chat channel on the Nervos Discord server.
Unlike mining for gold, there is very little guesswork in cryptocurrency mining. If you have properly done your research, then you should have realistic expectations about miner operation and profitability before you have made any kind of commitment. Don't skip out here! A little bit of research goes a very long way.
Step 2 - Select Your Mining Hardware
Nervos uses the Eaglesong hashing algorithm in mining, and specialized miners called ASICs are used to mine CKB. You must use a miner that is specifically designed for Nervos. You cannot use a miner from a different currency, because it is likely to be incompatible.
In the past, mining was done using GPUs and FPGA miners, but now ASICs are required. This is because ASICs are more specialized, and are the fastest and most efficient. GPUs and FPGA mining is still possible, but it is not efficient enough to be profitable.
There are many ASIC miners available, but not all are created equally. Some are better than others. New and improved miners come out regularly. Sites like ASIC Miner Value have information on what miners are available for the Eaglesong algorithm, as well as the specifications. Some are quiet, and some are extremely noisy. Some run on 110-volt electricity and others require 220-volt electricity. All these things must be considered.
If you're unsure, you can always ask other miners on Telegram or Discord about their experiences.
Step 3 - Select a Wallet
The CKB that you earn from mining are sent to the Nervos address that you specify. To create an address you will need to install wallet software. Nervos has many different wallet options available for both desktop computers and mobile phones, and any of them can be used for mining.
Neuron Wallet is a desktop wallet produced by the Nervos Foundation. It is a full node wallet, which means that it will download the full Nervos blockchain in the background. Because it runs a full node, it is often regarded to be the most secure wallet. However, the full node takes many gigabytes of disk space and may take up to 72 hours to complete the initial synchronization. Ledger hardware wallets can also be used with Neuron to give an extra layer of security.
CKBull, imToken, and SafePal are popular mobile wallets provided by third-party companies. All three wallets support both Google Android devices and Apple iOS devices.
Many other wallets are also available. The Nervos Community maintains a more comprehensive list of wallets within the Nervos ecosystem.
Step 4 - Select a Mining Pool
Selecting a mining pool is one of the most important decisions you will make when you start mining. This is not only important for your profitability as a miner, but it is also important for the long-term health of the network itself.
Decentralized blockchains can become more vulnerable to a 51% attack when too much mining power is concentrated in single mining pools. When choosing a pool, consider selecting one of the smaller pools to help keep the hash power decentralized.
Larger pools tend to find blocks more quickly, and thus have faster payouts for miners. However, the payouts are smaller since you represent a smaller slice of the total pool. Smaller pools will have slower payouts but each payout will be larger. In theory, total earnings between a large and small pool should be roughly the same in the long term.
A few other things to consider when selecting a pool:
- Mining Pool Fees: Mining pool fees normally hover between 1% and 3%. In addition to the percentage, there are also different payment systems to consider.
- Transparency: Most pools have metrics and charts available that give users the ability to see how the pool is performing. A dishonest pool could claim to have a low fee and then take an unfair share of the mining rewards. The more transparent the pool is, the less likely this is to occur.
- Security: A well-run pool should have some history and a track record of successful payouts. Remember, you are trusting the pool with your earnings. If they have poor security, they may lose some of your funds.
- Proximity: Pools that are closer to your location are usually better. This is because PoW is inherently a race to find answers. The closer you are to a pool, the faster you can communicate, and this can result in slightly higher payouts.
Part of a miner's duty is to protect the integrity of the network. A successful 51% attack on the network would likely result in lower profitability for all miners. This is why we stress so thoroughly that you perform your due diligence when selecting a pool and do your part to promote decentralization by supporting smaller pools.
The steps to create a pool account and the settings needed for your miner can differ from pool to pool. This information is specific to each pool and provided by the pools themselves.
Here are a few more helpful resources to see the hashrate, fees, and various features on several of the pools that support Nervos.
Step 5 - Set Up and Configure Your CKB Miner
Once you have your miner, wallet address, and pool account, you are ready to start mining. If this is the first time you're setting up a miner, there are a few things you may want to check.
- Inspect your miner for damage carefully. Most miners are shipped internationally, and equipment can easily be damaged in transit.
- Check your area for loose materials like paper and plastic bags. Some miners have strong fans which can become clogged easily. That can lead to overheating which results in poor performance or even hardware damage.
- After your miner is running, verify the temperature of the miner and all power cables in the area periodically. It's normal for miners to be warm to the touch, but a scorching hot miner or cable could indicate a ventilation problem that could lead to a fire.
Every miner has different interfaces and specific procedures that must be followed for setup and configuration. However, most will follow these basic steps:
- Connect your miner's network and power cables.
- Locate your miner's IP address on the network.
- Open your miner's admin panel in a web browser.
- Check for updates to your miner's firmware.
- Update your miner's configuration with your pool settings.
After these steps are completed, your miner should be up and running. Sometimes it can take a few minutes to start but after 10-15 minutes your miner's activity should be visible within your pool dashboard.
Where to Get Help
If you have trouble with your miner, check to see if the manufacturer provides support. Some pools will also offer support for users who need help configuring their miners.
You can also ask other CKB miners on Telegram and Discord for help since many of them will be running similar equipment on similar pools.
The Nervos Community maintains a list of mining resources that has lots of helpful information and tips.