Something that I have not really grasped is the idea of bitcoins. Especially since everybody can mine for it using a powerful GPU. I wonder why is GPU used for this purpose? Is the work done by GPU used by some huge organization or is it just wasted resource that goes into simulated mining?

I mean for example SETI uses your GPU for the purpose of finding aliens, but what I can see of bitmining it seems for no actual purpose than wasted resource.

closed as off topic by Nifle, slhck, random Apr 11 '12 at 1:39

Questions on Super User are expected to relate to computer software or computer hardware within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


In nearly every case, it comes down to what the GPU is good at. Architecturally modern GPUs consist of a massive number of small cores. They are as such good at embarassingly parallel problems and happen to be good at vector calculations (as opposed to floating point, where CPUs often do better). Rather than using a GPU as well, a GPU, all these tasks use it as a GPGPU

It so happens that protein folding, signal analysis, and bitcoin mining are embarassingly parallel, and distribute well amongst many nodes, which are what folding@home, seti and bitcoin do!

Also, bitcoin mining involves solving equations and that somehow has a random chance of you getting a bitcoin, which is an arbitrary, cyrptographically secure, non legal tender currency - see this closed question for more details

  • 1
    yeah, but it seems that the GPU resource is wasted on something that doesn't really matter. I mean SETI has purpose, wherein bitcoins I don't find to have any purpose. Rather it seems to be something maintained by serious computer geeks. Now in after hand I think I should have named my question why mining at all. Anyway thanks for your answer. – starcorn Apr 9 '12 at 12:28

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.