Growing concerns as Chia miners attempt to sell potentially degraded plotting drives

Jimmy2x

Posts: 39   +4
Staff
Bottom line: Chia mining can lessen the lifespan of solid-state drives (SSDs) by writing more than 300GB in temporary data per plot. Buyers looking for deals on used hardware should be careful and ask the right questions when purchasing these used Chia plotting drives; otherwise, they could end up paying for a heavily used item with a severely reduced lifespan.

Chia, the recently introduced "green" blockchain aimed at reducing energy usage and credited with a drastic increase in storage costs, is once again making storage headlines for the wrong reasons. Following a continued drop in value, the coin's miners have begun leaving the network and liquidating their hardware assets to recoup costs. Some miners are advertising their Serial ATA (SATA) solid-state drives (SSDs) or M.2 non-volatile memory express drives (NVMEs) used to plot, or prepare, the proof-of-space consensus data as new and/or renewed. Buyers of these used Chia plotting drives should be extra cautious, as they may not get what they're paying for based on how Chia utilizes the flash storage of SSDs and NVMEs.

Unlike traditional proof-of-work consensus mechanisms, Chia instead relies upon a less intensive proof-of-space consensus mechanism to verify and validate transactions on the Chia blockchain. A fully prepared Chia farm uses less energy and resources than those farms mining currencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin; however, the path to get there is not without some expenditure of energy and hardware resources.

A Chia farm consists of two major activities: farming, which is the act of making prepared plots available on slower storage volumes to verify transactions on the Chia network; and plotting, which leverages computing and storage resources to prepare the data sets used for proof-of-space consensus on the Chia network. Plotting requires more than 300GB of temporary free space per plot. This free space is typically allocated on dedicated SATA or NVME drives due to the speed at which plot preparation can be completed.

SSD and NVME drives measure endurance in a unit known as terabytes written (TBW), or the amount of total data that can be written to the drive. Some drives may be rated as low as 150 TBW, while others may exceed several thousand TBW. What does this mean for the used Chia-plotting drives? Even though they may be wiped and formatted, a heavily used plotting drive may leave the drive's buyers with a severely reduced lifespan. Each Chia plot prepared on an SSD or NVME drive reduces the overall lifespan by approximately 300GB. This same immediate concern does not apply to the HDDs used for final plot storage.

Understanding what questions to ask and what to look for can be key in buying these used Chia drives. Potential buyers can ask sellers to provide evidence of potential drive health by using tools ranging from CrystalDiskMark to proprietary drive software such as Samsung Magician or Crucial Storage Executive. Another good indication would be obtaining any information regarding how much plotting was done using the drive and reviewing that against the drive's factory-rated TBW.

At go-live, the Chia coin's value was north of $1,600. Since release, factors such as the state of the cryptocurrency market, ever-increasing Chia netspace, decreasing probability of mining success, and lack of viable coin exchanges have recently driven the price below the $220 mark. This reduction in value has been the primary driver for the abandonment and selloff for many solo and small hobbyist miners.

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Achaios

Posts: 232   +662
Common tactic used by miners.

Plenty of used miner GPUS are being sold as we speak as NEU and NEU-SONSTIGE (Other) over at ebay-de.

Sheep/whales don't care and buy them regardless.

I could probably get away with selling my GTX 1080 as NEW-OTHER for 600 EUR in this market on ebay.de and it would still sell regardless b/c desperate miners are buying any GPU they can get their hands on, even GTX 780TIs with 6 GB memory.
 

rmcrys

Posts: 78   +76
This is the reason why I can’t bring myself to buy certain parts used.

CPU, RAM, GPU or SSD I must buy new.

Can’t trust this market

Until a couple of years I would buy any part (except hdds) used. With the rise of the virtual mineralogy, the need for hardware rises to impossible levels: gpu, CPU, SSDs, hdds, electricity, gas, pollution, out of stock and there are companies (as Samsung, but not exclusive from) that even change the ssd controllers for a much weaker ones but don't change the product designation. So at the moment I'll buy new only and with good prices. I have everything I need.
 
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paul1122

Posts: 186   +180
TS tested these drives, and found they were still out performed by a Nvidia 1080 running at stock speeds. So there you go.
 

yRaz

Posts: 3,892   +4,137
Only thing s I won't buy used is power supplies and storage. I had several drive failures in the early 2000s and since then I only buy top quality drives. I also had a brand new powersupply surge a system and blow up the first time I hit the power button.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,849   +1,911
It would kinda be okay if these were sold as gaming or storage drives for stuff you can afford to lose if not backed up. I doubt sellers will do that though.

Going back to the massive SSD test Tech Report did years ago getting up to Petabytes written on less than flagship models, I would guess current SSD's are as or more durable. Reliability is another thing ofc. Getting drive info as suggested should be a minimum requirement assuming you're aware of this.

We won't know how bad the degradation is until stories come out. I'm def interested in seeing how this plays out just for the curiosity.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,411   +3,524
Only thing s I won't buy used is power supplies and storage. I had several drive failures in the early 2000s and since then I only buy top quality drives. I also had a brand new powersupply surge a system and blow up the first time I hit the power button.
You gotta be unlucky. I've never had storage failure yet I have cheaper parts. As for PSUs, I've had new and used ones that come bundled inside cheap cases, usually 500W no-name "trash" and the only thing that failed was the fans which I didn't bother replacing cause they cost as much as that PSU. I'm getting convinced that buying "premium" parts are a meme, they might have more features but they either die quickly or don't, just like the cheap parts.
 

yRaz

Posts: 3,892   +4,137
You gotta be unlucky. I've never had storage failure yet I have cheaper parts. As for PSUs, I've had new and used ones that come bundled inside cheap cases, usually 500W no-name "trash" and the only thing that failed was the fans which I didn't bother replacing cause they cost as much as that PSU. I'm getting convinced that buying "premium" parts are a meme, they might have more features but they either die quickly or don't, just like the cheap parts.
Simply from an engineering perspective, there is most definitely a huge difference between cheap and quality power supplies. Open one up, look at the transformer, capacitors or even just the solder joints. You can keep buying cheap powersupplies if you want, but just look at the gigabyte powersupply scandal that popped up recently.

Buying a cheap powersupply is like putting cheap tires on your car. Everything your car does it does through the tires. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have or how good your brakes are, if you have cheap tires you can't put it to the ground.
 

noel24

Posts: 771   +957
Simply from an engineering perspective, there is most definitely a huge difference between cheap and quality power supplies. Open one up, look at the transformer, capacitors or even just the solder joints. You can keep buying cheap powersupplies if you want, but just look at the gigabyte powersupply scandal that popped up recently.

Buying a cheap powersupply is like putting cheap tires on your car. Everything your car does it does through the tires. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have or how good your brakes are, if you have cheap tires you can't put it to the ground.
Very nice tire analogy. Tires limitation is the only reason why We don't see street legal cars faster than 1.9 seconds in 0-62mph.
Yeap, gonna be kinda Cptn. Obvious here, but PSU is in fact one of the most important components of PC, as It's probably the only one that can burn up other components in your PC. You can use the crap one only if You don't care about the rest of the setup.
Doesn't has to be Gold or Platinum, just proven brand.
Gigabyte destroyed Itself for years with recent blunder...
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,411   +3,524
Simply from an engineering perspective, there is most definitely a huge difference between cheap and quality power supplies. Open one up, look at the transformer, capacitors or even just the solder joints. You can keep buying cheap powersupplies if you want, but just look at the gigabyte powersupply scandal that popped up recently.

Buying a cheap powersupply is like putting cheap tires on your car. Everything your car does it does through the tires. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have or how good your brakes are, if you have cheap tires you can't put it to the ground.
I agree, I just didn't have bad experience with cheaper stuff that I've been told is supposed to break quickly, except for the fans I mentioned. Another example of it would be mice. I have this A4Tech mouse for around 9 years and I've been killing it almost every day playing CS and whatnot. Meanwhile, people pay $100 for premium brands and forums are full of 'em complaining about their mice double clicking and dying. Their next logical step? Buy an even more expensive mouse, that one's surely gonna last.
 

Fastturtle

Posts: 21   +15
On the storage front, the only thing I'll buy Used now are 10-15k RPM SAS drives. They're not the largest but when I do use them, they make more sense from a performance (IOPS) standpoint then an SSD when being used as Scratch/Temp Drives.
 

azicat

Posts: 77   +67
I don't mind buying a non K series CPU from Intel used, AMD is probably ok since they hardly overclock most people don't bother and run them stock
I blew up a Ryzen 1600 and B350 motherboard from overclocking and using it for video rendering. One day it just stopped booting. It's easy to OC a Ryzen. (Can't tell if it's the mobo or CPU that failed; I just ended up swapping it out for a 10700F+B460 and kept going.)
 

Adi6293

Posts: 931   +1,308
I blew up a Ryzen 1600 and B350 motherboard from overclocking and using it for video rendering. One day it just stopped booting. It's easy to OC a Ryzen. (Can't tell if it's the mobo or CPU that failed; I just ended up swapping it out for a 10700F+B460 and kept going.)

I didn't say it was hard, I said they hardly OC, I myself overclocked my old 2700X to 4250Mhz all core : -)
 

Vanderlinde

Posts: 66   +51
Ryzens (early generation) are prone to some serious degradation once you start ramping up voltages beyond 1.36v. The message tech review websites are sending out with putting up a 1.4V constant voltage is so completely wrong. The chip wont survive not even months with that setup.

Ontopic: If chia miners are able to swap out the smart data, then yes, this is a serious concern. Almost makes me think not to touch anything 2nd hand used anymore.