guiminer – An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining

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intro6   guiminer   An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin MiningAs of late there’s been a been a great buzz going around about Bitcoin, the latest P2P digital currency. One of the main activities of getting Bitcoins is through a process called mining.

In order to successfully conduct Bitcoins mining, you’ll need a working “miner” that will make good use of your hardware (more about that later). There are a handful of miners out on the Web, but many of them have a narrow window of hardware it can work with, or it is difficult to (easily) control because it only runs via a command line.

No need to fear, though, because there’s a great program that comes with a GUI that does all the dirty work!

 

What are Bitcoins About?

bitcoin value graph   guiminer   An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining
Before we start, we need to understand a little better what Bitcoins are and what the mining process consists of. Bitcoins are pieces of virtual money that can be traded around just like regular money, but with extremely low transaction fees (paid in Bitcoins). Bitcoins can also be exchanged for other currencies such as the US Dollar, Euro, etc.

Their value changes based on demand, which can be tracked at Mt. Gox or BitcoinCharts. At the time of this article the BTC to USD exchange rate is $10.90/1 BTC, but this rate can change every 5 minutes. Bitcoins are created by solving a puzzle that involves getting a certain result with random hashes, which is effectively what mining is all about. Another important feature of Bitcoin is that everything is done anonymously.

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More information about Bitcoin can be found in this well-written article.

Starting guiminer

guiminer is essentially a GUI interface that can control multiple different mining applications at the same time, which come bundled with the program on download. It is available for Windows, and also offers early support for Linux. If you’ve never used Bitcoin before, you must install the official Bitcoin client to have a wallet and Bitcoin address (where you can send and receive Bitcoins from). Once you’ve done that you can go ahead and launch guiminer.

Interface and Miners

guiminer miners   guiminer   An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining
The interface is pretty simple. The default miner that opens will use your GPU’s OpenCL capabilities (if it’s from AMD). Otherwise, you can choose to create a new miner. Here you can also choose “Phoenix” (a miner from a different developer), a CUDA miner (meant for nVidia cards), a CPU miner, and a custom option.

I highly recommend you choose OpenCL for AMD cards and CUDA for nVidia cards. You should probably leave the CPU miner alone because the hash rate will be very low compared to your GPU, which is capable of doing many parallel computations at the same time.

For example, my AMD Phenom II X6 1100T processor gets roughly 3.5 Mh/s (megahashes per second) while my AMD Radeon HD 6950 graphics card gets on average 320 Mh/s.

guiminer interface   guiminer   An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining

Whom to Mine For

guiminer pools   guiminer   An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining
Once you have your miner selected, you can choose where to mine for. You can try doing things solo, where if you manage to land a block, you’ll get a total of 50 Bitcoins, all to yourself. That’s, at the time of this writing, about $545! However, you’ll either have to be very lucky to get a block, or you’ll either have to spend many months running 24/7 before you finally get one. You could also increase the horsepower and add multiple GPUs or even additional mining rigs to get the number of megahashes higher so that it won’t take months and months.

Another choice is to choose to enter a mining pool. Mining pools combine the efforts of all the members involved in order to get blocks a lot faster. The resulting Bitcoins then usually get split proportionately among all the involved and active contributors. It will most likely take you just as long to get 50 Bitcoins through a mining pool, but you’ll get paid after every couple hours of work you contribute instead of waiting until you get a lump sum of 50 BTC. guiminer comes with a number of preconfigured mining pools, so you can choose any of them, register beforehand, make sure you entered your Bitcoin address in your profile so you can get paid, and then start mining for that pool.

Extra AMD Graphics Card Settings

amd catalyst overdrive   guiminer   An Extensive Tool For Bitcoin Mining
If you’re an AMD/ATI graphics card holder, you’ll want to be aware of the AMD Overdrive feature in your Catalyst Control Center software. This feature allows you to overclock as well as underclock your graphics card, to give you either more performance (and more megahashes) or more power and heat savings (and less megahashes). If you feel safe to do it, you can play around with the settings on that page, but please stay on it for a while and monitor the stats about graphics card, especially the temperature. If it starts climbing too high, you’ll either need to change your settings or manually adjust the fan speed if you can (should be on the same page).

For more information, you can check out this article.

Conclusion

Despite all it’s criticisms, Bitcoin seems to be picking up speed at a rapid pace. There are also an increasing number of online stores that accept Bitcoins as a valid way to pay, so keeping some in stock may be a good idea. However, if you have the time and resources, getting Bitcoins from almost nothing through mining is quite a reward. If you stick to it (and possible add some extra omph to your hardware), you’ll have a nice sum of money at the end.

What do you think of Bitcoin? Are you interested in or do you already do Bitcoin mining? Anything else you want to address on this matter? Let us know in the comments!

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16 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Varun Nagwekar

Pardon if this is a foolish question, bow do you sell the mined Bitcoins?

Danny Stieben

Like james888 and Darwin Lafay said, there are multiple different exchanges like Mt. Gox or TradeHill where you can trade bitcoins for Dollars, Euros, and more.

Reply

Darwin Lafay

@Varun: on an exchange, like ‘MtGox’ or ‘TradeHill’…

Reply

Dav532000

Never hear of Bitcoin but it does sound interesting. Getting Bitcoins then trading with them, might give this a go. Thanks MUO.

Reply

James Bruce

Last time I looked at bitcoin, I couldnt find any way of actually mining coins. Ill download this and give it a go, because theres kick ass nvidia card sitting in my always on server that otherwise does nothing. If this actually works, you are literally *da man*, and I promise to buy you a pint when youre old enough ;) 

Danny Stieben

Haha thanks James! Just note that for one reason or another nVidia cards aren’t as good at mining as AMD Radeon cards are. And I’m not talking about a little difference, either. My dad’s GeForce 450 GTS gets around 30 Mhashes/s, which my Radeon HD 6950 gets up to 370 Mhashes/s with the right settings.

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the mainliner

Can someone recommend a GUI alternative for Linux (tall order I know)…heh.

Danny Stieben

I’m sorry, I don’t know any other GUIs that could work on Linux. I know other CLI miners like Phoenix or Hashkill could still work.

Reply

metahawk

What does the puzzle solving do? They are giving us virtual money to solve these puzzles so they must have a value, right? Are we cracking passwords? Sampling DNA? If there is no value to these puzzles then we are effectively creating money out of thin air. How is that a sustainable currency?

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Jon

RTFM metahawk. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

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metahawk

How rude. I did read the manual. No mention of what the computation results are used for. Just says that solving part of the problem is a proof-of-work measure. Nothing about what the final solution is use for.

Danny Stieben

Sadly (if may see it so, I do), the computations aren’t used for anything. The process, if I didn’t already say it in the article or in the linked article about Bitcoin in general, is simple. The computer keeps creating random hashes by taking the previous hash and adding a number to it and rehashing. So it’s more or less a lottery, and all that computer power is used to find the “winning” hashes, as they need to have a certain numbers of zeros at the beginning of the hash. The computer power isn’t used to help find a cure for cancer or the like.

muotechguy

I thought the hashes were the basis of secured transactions? They cant just be pointless…

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Zworg2

so if i understand it right, the people that have hte time and resources are able to put the time in to make money, whereas those without the equipment cant.
also, is there a limited number of possible valid bitcoin hashes? if there are not, then surely this would lead to a gradual increase in miners and thus an increase in bitcoins in circulation, and inflation would kick in….
I love the idea, but get a little stuck on teh practicality of hte theory.

Danny Stieben

Yes, the theory is kind of complicated. However, what you listed is all correct. People need the right equipment to be competitive in mining, and there ARE a limited number of possible valid bitcoin hashes. So for that very reason, deflation will eventually occur instead of inflation.

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