Third CryptoSuper 500 List
Bitcoin produces 84% of crypto mining value, up from 66%
Over $7 billion annual value produced by top mining pools
Bitcoin as global money
“Money has become information. Bitcoin is energy securely encapsulated as information. Electrons to eternal bits. Money in the Internet, and only in the Internet.” @moneyordebt
One Bitcoin has a value of 165 barrels of oil. Bitcoin is encapsulated energy, transformed through a cryptographic “mining” process into secure, immutable information. This new form of money can be transferred across the globe at a low cost in a matter of minutes.
Actually, it is already around the globe since it resides in thousands of “full nodes” as a widely replicated, decentralized ledger. You don’t move Bitcoin, you just transfer ownership to a new private key holder.
Around three-quarters of Bitcoin is produced from renewable energy sources. The value of one hundred million barrels of oil is being produced per annum as new Bitcoins.
Review of prior two CryptoSuper lists
Cryptocurrency mining is a specialized form of supercomputing. It relies on large clusters of mining rigs with substantial power and cooling requirements, and the operators of these seek out low-cost power and cooling locations. Hydropower access is especially favored, and it has been estimated that some 75% or so of power used in crypto mining by large compute farms is sourced from renewables.
One difference is that these are mining pools, and they often welcome anyone to contribute their own compute resources from anywhere in the world, and share in the crypto mining rewards. The problem is inherently embarrassingly parallel since one must make billions or trillions of guesses at a ‘nonce’ before computing the winning result. The pool concept is not totally different from the office pool for lottery tickets. Your chances of winning something are significantly enhanced by joining a pool. Naturally, the reward must then be shared, proportionately with the hash rate contribution.
Because cryptocurrency mining is inherently a decentralized process, there is also an increasing trend toward operators locating major crypto mining resources in several countries, creating global pools. China has tightened up on some operators, rationing their access to electric power, and this has encouraged migration of resources to Europe and North America.
Our first two lists were released in November 2018, and June 2019, in conjunction with the large supercomputer conferences in the US and Germany. Here is a blog on the second list, and here is a slide presentation for the second list.
BTC.com was the top mining pool on both lists, and the largest production share was in China for both of the two prior lists. The second and third largest countries by cryptocurrency produced value are the US and Hong Kong. We note again, these are pools, so what we are tracking are the host locations. The annual economic value produced by the top pools increased from about $6 billion to about $8 billion between lists one and two.
The Third CryptoSuper list, released in conjunction with SC19
The CryptoSuper500 list tracks decentralized supercomputers that are used for cryptocurrency mining, an intensive application that has become a driver of technology development and investment decisions globally. The growth of the cryptocurrency market has put the spotlight on emerging decentralized applications, the new ways in which they are funded, and the software stack on which they are built. Cryptocurrency technologies include blockchain, consensus algorithms, digital wallets, and utility and security tokens.
There are now over 4000 cryptocurrencies. Most are worth relatively little, and only 13 have market caps over $1 billion. Market cap is the number of coins or tokens outstanding times the price. In an extreme illustration of the Pareto principle, two-thirds of the market cap of all cryptocurrencies combined is with Bitcoin, the premier crypto.
There are different ways of creating new cryptos, different consensus algorithms or methods of solving the Byzantine generals’ problem of preventing fraudulent transactions, e.g. double-spending, a form of counterfeiting. The two most robust consensus algorithms from the security and value perspective are Proof of Work and Proof of Stake. But only Proof of Work is a computationally-intensive process that leads to supercomputing levels of resources being assigned.
We consider here only the most valuable Proof of Work coins, starting with the ten most valuable by total market cap. Of these ten, some might turn out to be of significance when we compile our list of the top 50 top mining pools.
More details on the top coins including their mining algorithms, whether ASIC or GPU-oriented, their daily production, and respective hashing rates can be found in our full research report on the CryptoSuper rankings. It is freely downloadable at orionx.net/research.
The information for this third edition of the CryptoSuper 500 list was assembled on Halloween Day, 2019, which is the 11th-anniversary date of the publication of the Satoshi Nakamoto white paper.
A slide presentation concerning this third list is here: https://www.slideshare.net/perrenod/cryptosuper-500-november-2019
A Hundred Exahashes
Hashes in crypto mining are the metric that parallels flop in the supercomputing world.
Crypto miners compete via Proof of Work consensus algorithms in order to win a block reward and commit a group of transactions to the blockchain. Cryptocurrency mining via Proof of Work continues to represent the most effective class of consensus algorithm to maximize security in a decentralized manner and to allow coins to accrue significant value.
In our CryptoSuper 500 race, we only look at the top mined coins that use Proof of Work, since these are the only supercomputer class workloads in the cryptocurrency world. Other consensus algorithms are much less costly, but as the marketplace has consistently demonstrated, impart much less value and security to a cryptocurrency. This is a trade-off between store of value and utility attributes.
Crypto mining entered the Exascale era in 2016; three years ago, the global hash rate for bitcoin was already exceeding an ExaHash per second. As of this writing, Bitcoin’s total computational power is 96 Exahashes per second. Crypto hashes are very simple calculations, using SHA(256) in the case of Bitcoin hashing, with many repeated trials required until a winning result adhering to the pre-defined problem difficulty is achieved.
Only Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Bitcoin SV have hashrates that enter the Exa domain. The latter two are hard forks away from the core Bitcoin blockchain and have a small fraction of Bitcoin’s value.
In the last three calendar years, the Bitcoin hash rate has been doubling at an approximately seven-month pace, significantly faster than the pace of Moore’s law. See our recent blog on the hashrate history for Bitcoin.
This rapidly growing global hashrate is a result of strong advances in the specialized rack-optimized crypto mining ASIC-based computer designs, in performance, packaging, and efficiency, and also in the optimization efforts of mining pools as they seek out the least costly locations for electrical power and cooling and optimize their facilities design. It is of course additionally a result of the long-term increase of Bitcoin price, some four orders of magnitude since early 2011.
Here we present tables of the top mined coins, top mining countries, and top pool operators (including multiple coins mined by a single operator).
As shown in Table 1, the total annual economic value for the top 50 mining pools is $7.38 billion per year. This is down from the June 2019 list by $1 billion or so. The Bitcoin price is up, but other coin prices have noticeably dropped since then. Ethereum is producing about half the economic value that it was in June. Of the top pools, 18 are mining Bitcoin, 9 are mining Ethereum, 7 are mining Bitcoin Cash, and 7 Litecoin. The other 4 major coins have between one and three entries each. Bitcoin amounts to 84% of all of the economic value of the top 50 pools, while Ethereum is another 10%. The remaining 6% is spread across the 6 other significant coins. The Pareto principle is very much in evidence here.
Bitcoin has increased its dominance substantially just in the past six months. On our June 2019 list, it was 66% of the economic value production (AEV, annual economic value). The #2 and #3, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash, coins have fallen back in the past half-year with production only half of their prior AEV. Litecoin, now the #4 coin, has fallen to around 20% of its previous AEV.
In Table 2 we show the top host countries. China clearly dominates as before, with 44% of the annual economic value. When one considers that both the Global and the combined US plus China categories include Chinese mining as well, the Chinese share is roughly 55% and adding in Hong Kong, about 63%. Including the US plus China category, the US share is around 16%. Clearly the supposed crackdown on Chinese mining by their government is having limited impact. That crackdown is more about managing electricity usage, particularly seasonal issues around hydropower availability. Crypto mining has recently been removed from a Chinese government list of ‘undesirable industries’.
Table 3 shows the Top 10 pool operators, combining multiple coins mined by a given operator. Some operators are mining four of the top coins. If the entry is in the top 50 for pools of a given coin, it is aggregated in this list. BTCdotcom is #1 as on the prior list, F2Pool, a global pool, is #2, and Poolin which is located in both the US and China is #3. We see that five of the top ten pool operators are in China. One is global, one is in Hong Kong, one is in the US, and one is located both in the US, and China.
The full list of the top 50 cryptocurrency mining pools around the world is available with our free research report at orionx.net/research.
The AEV production for the top 50 mining pools has grown from about $5.4 billion to nearly $7.4 billion over the past year, up 37%. The #1 pool has grown its output by even more in percentage terms, from $0.7 billion to $1.1 billion, or around 62%.
All the long term trends are strongly up for Bitcoin: hashrate, price and market cap, and the annual economic value of mining. Next year, as we enter a new decade, will be very interesting, due to the Bitcoin algorithmic Halving of supply emission, that is expected to occur in May 2020. This will reduce the block reward from 12.5 to 6.25 Bitcoins per block, pushing the annual inflation rate below 2%.
References, Data Sources
Cryptocurrency topics: orionx.net/blog
CryptoSuper 500 Second Edition, Shahin Khan, http://orionx.net/2019/06/cryptosuper500-2nd-edition/
Top Cryptocurrency Supercomputers June 2019, slide presentation, Stephen Perrenod https://www.slideshare.net/perrenod/top-cryptosupers-201906v1-149547256
Top Cryptocurrency Supercomputers November 2019, slide presentation, Stephen Perrenod https://www.slideshare.net/perrenod/cryptosuper-500-november-2019
Overall statistics: coinmarketcap.com, coinwarz.com, cryptoslate.com
ETH: btc.com, etherscan.io
BCH: btc.com, cash.coin.dance
Other coins: miningpoolstats.stream