A quick Chia plotting note and a future searchable tip

The backlog is getting more interesting, but in an attempt to compare a Xeon Silver processor to one or two E5-2620v4 processors for some future Chia plotting, I’ve arrived at some benchmarks and a bladebit caveat for the new diskplotter.

The idea is to replace my OG plots with NFT-style plots, while still self-pooling them. At some point I will probably expand my storage again as well. 

Links are to original manufacturer specifications. If you find this document useful, feel free to send me a coffee. It might help with the memory upgrades on one or both machines too.

The systems involved:

System one:

Quick observation: On my Monoprice Stitch power meter, this system goes from about 60W at idle to 160W while plotting with Madmax or Bladebit. Not surprising, but noisy and blowy. 

System two:

Quick observation: This storage is very suboptimal for plotting, but it’s what came with the systems. I will dig into whether I have a larger faster SSD. Unfortunately this system only has USB 2.0 externally, and one low profile PCIe slot, so I’m a bit limited. Might put a 1TB NVMe drive in the PCIe slot though and see how that goes. 

Plotters:

Metrics so far:

System one, Chiapos with 12200MB memory assigned

Time for phase 1 = 10876.922 seconds. CPU (147.640%) Sun Oct 2 19:31:42 2022
Time for phase 2 = 4247.395 seconds. CPU (97.160%) Sun Oct 2 20:42:29 2022
Time for phase 3 = 9153.365 seconds. CPU (95.640%) Sun Oct 2 23:15:03 2022
Time for phase 4 = 635.266 seconds. CPU (97.980%) Sun Oct 2 23:25:38 2022

Total time = 24912.949 seconds. CPU (118.660%) Sun Oct 2 23:25:38 2022

System one, Madmax with -r 10

Phase 1 took 1461.93 sec
Phase 2 took 773.745 sec
Phase 3 took 1241.66 sec, wrote 21866600944 entries to final plot
Phase 4 took 61.6523 sec, final plot size is 108771592628 bytes
Total plot creation time was 3539.07 sec (58.9845 min)

System one, Bladebit with 16GB cache configured

Bladebit plot with 16G cache
Finished Phase 1 in 1744.37 seconds ( 29.1 minutes ).
Finished Phase 2 in 174.39 seconds ( 2.9 minutes ).
Finished Phase 3 in 1501.98 seconds ( 25.0 minutes ).
Finished plotting in 3420.74 seconds ( 57.0 minutes ).

 

The bladebit diskplot quirk:

If you get this error, there’s a good chance you didn’t specify the destination for the plot. 

 Allocating memory
terminate called after throwing an instance of 'std::logic_error'
what(): basic_string::Mconstruct null not valid
Aborted (core dumped)

So for example:

./bladebit -n 3 -f <farmerkey> -c <poolcontract> diskplot -t1 /nvme/tmp/ --cache 16G 

would give this error. Unlike the other plotters, it does *not* assume that your temp path is your output path if you only specify the temp path. So you’d use:

./bladebit -n 3 -f <farmerkey> -c <poolcontract> diskplot -t1 /nvme/tmp/ --cache 16G /nvme/plots/

instead. 

I will update this with further stats, and maybe make a comparison chart, as testing progresses. I’m also giving serious thought to upgrading the SSD in the dual-E5 machine. 

Obligatory disclosure:

While I work for Supermicro at the time of this writing, the servers and all other elements of my home labs and workspaces are my own and have no association with my employer. This post is my own, and my employer probably doesn’t even remember I have a blog, much less approve of it. 

Revisiting Flexfarmer five months later – efficient Chia farming on Raspberry Pi and more

This is another piece on a part of the Chia and cryptocurrency landscapes. See previous posts at https://rsts11.com/crypto

Back in August 2021, I wrote here about Increasing Chia farmer efficiency with Flexpool’s new FlexFarmer. I was alpha testing on Windows, Linux, and a Rock64 Pi-like computer before that, and I found that it was quite efficient, handling my 90TB farm easily on any platform without breaking a sweat, and carving around 100 watts off the power I needed to keep a dedicated farmer going.

Five months and several versions later, I wanted to come back with my experience and observations since then. I’ll also answer a couple of frequently answered questions here, for those of you who have common questions.

Disclosure: I still work for Flexpool as of this writing, but this post is based on my experience, not a press release or the pool admin’s expectations. Some of the testing I did was “on the clock” alongside support tasks, but I was not paid or asked to write this post.

Quick Flexfarmer recap

The basics are the same. With a tiny distributed binary and config file (under 10MB download) and the specifics of your PlotNFT in Chia (farmer secret key, launcher ID, payout address), at least one plot, you can start farming Chia without a fully synced node (which could save you over a week on a Pi-class machine, and at least a day or more on a more full-size PC).

Want to build a compact, inexpensive machine for farming? Read my three suggestions from a January 2022 post.

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Three ways to build low profile Chia (and forks) nodes

This is another piece on a part of the Chia and cryptocurrency landscapes. See previous posts at https://rsts11.com/crypto

Need to set up a lightweight VPN to get into your low profile node remotely? Check out Stephen Foskett’s writeup on Zerotier. I’m using it on my Pi nodes to reduce NAT layers.

Many if not most Chia farmers run a full node on their farming / plotting machine. Some larger farms will use the remote harvester model, with a single full node and several machines farming plots on local storage. 

If you’re using Flexfarmer from Flexpool, or just want a supplemental node (maybe to speed up your own resyncing, or to supplement decentralization on the Chia network), you might want a dedicated node that doesn’t farm or plot. And for that use case, you don’t really need dual EPYC or AMD Threadripper machines. 

In fact, a well-planned Raspberry Pi 4B 4GB or 8GB system, with an external USB drive, will do quite well for this use. If you want to do a few forks as well, or another blockchain full node, a moderately-recent Intel NUC would do quite well for not much more. 

So here we’ll look at three builds to get you going. Note that any of these can run a full node plus Flexfarmer if you want, or just a full node. 

If you don’t already have Chia software and a full node installed, go ahead and install and sync the node on a full scale PC. it may save you five days of waiting. My original build for this use case was to test the blockchain syncing time from scratch.

Syncing from a semi-optimal Pi 4B from scratch took about 8 days, for what it’s worth. One member of the Chia public Keybase forum reported about 28 hours to sync on an Intel Core i5 12600k. 

Caveat: Raspberry Pi boards are a bit more challenging to find and even harder to find anywhere near the frequently-touted $35 price point, or even under $150. And for Chia nodes, you want a minimum of the 4GB Pi 4B (8GB wouldn’t hurt). So while it’s possible to run on older hardware, it’s not recommended.

 

You might also be able to run on a Pi400 (the Raspberry Pi 4B in a keyboard case, which is much easier to find for $100 or so, complete). I plan to test this soon.

 

Raspberry Pi with external USB SSD. 

This was my initial build, and today it’s running at the Andromedary Instinct providing an accessible full node for about 10-15 watts maximum. 

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Turnkey Chia farming with Evergreen Miner, and making your own compact farmer

Disclosures at the end, as usual

A few years ago, a turnkey desktop container/VM platform from Antsle came along, and I thought “this is cool, but I bet I could make one myself.” You can read about that here on rsts11.

Earlier this month I saw a low power Pi-based project similar to the Antsle Nano (which I did build on my own) come out for Chia farming. The project, Evergreen Miner (evergreenminer.com), is the brainchild of a young geek named Dylan Rose who’s worked with Amazon and other companies and has begun an interesting forward-looking Chia project to really bring Chia farming to the masses.

I’ve written about building your own Chia system, and lots of people (tens of thousands at least) have done so. But some people aren’t up for the space, expense, time, tuning, software building, and so forth to make a node and farm.

However, a lot of people could benefit from the technology and platform and even more into the future as the ecosystem matures. So the idea of a turnkey platform that’s relatively easy to build and maintain and expand, even without plotting on your own, sounds pretty good.

Think all of the functionality and potential of Chia, with the ease of setup and management of a typical mobile app, and of course the power draw of an LED light bulb or two. No hardware or Linux or filesystem or SAS knowledge required.

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How not to embarrass yourself when writing about mining (or anything else)

Disclosure: I work with Flexpool.io but I am not writing in any official capacity or with any proprietary knowledge. You should mine with Flexpool, but it’s not mandatory.

Disclaimer: Hashrate rental can be expensive and unprofitable if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you do know what you’re doing and can manage your risk, check out Nicehash and MiningRigRentals and maybe you too can embarrass the tech media. (Referral links may earn me a little bit.)

This morning, some “news” pieces came out in some of the tech press. Not the big names most people have heard of, but venues with some reach and some expectation of basic knowledge.

The headline from notebookcheck dot net

The “story” was that some unreleased and possibly even non-existent GPUs were mining to Flexpool, the number 5 Ethereum mining pool in the world This sounds pretty amazing, even unbelievable, although after the April 1, 2021 Captains Workspace reveal video on the “RTX 4090” you realize some people will believe anything.

The evidence? High hashrate and workers named “4090TI-Overclock-Test,” “RX7000-Control-Test,” and “RX7000-Overclock-Test.”

The “story” got a lot of coverage, starting at wccftech, spreading to Notebook Check and Digital Trends, and later with a bit more justifiable incredulity from Windows Central and TechRadar. Also seen at TweakTown after this was originally posted.

A couple of these mention later in the article, after breathless references to the scale and/or specs of the cards named and the vast amounts of Ethereum that could be mined by these farms, that it’s unlikely.

How could this happen?

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