As Bitcoin Infrastructure Booms, Mining Heads to the Data Center

This custom piping system supports a liquid immersion cooling system powering a Bitcoin mining data center in Hong Kong. It’s one example of custom infrastructure emerging to support the global bitcoin network. (Photo: Allied Control)

This is the first of a two-part series on the boom in Bitcoin computing infrastructure, and what it means for the data center industry. 

Emmanuel Abiodun once mined for Bitcoins on a desktop computer in his home. He’s now running 160 powerful computers in server space in Iceland, where the machines are cheap to power and cool. Later this year, Abiodun expects to have an empire of 4,000 bitcoin mining rigs spread across two continents, eventually filling nearly 5 megawatts of data center space.

“To be able to scale, you’re going to have to look at a data center,” said Abiodun, the founder and CEO of London-based CloudHashing, which leases server capacity to customers hoping to generate bitcoins. “We’re definitely seeing that trend.”

The journey of Abiodun and CloudHashing reflects the larger story of the Bitcoin network. After getting started in garages and server closets, bitcoin mining is moving into data centers and the cloud. Some traditional data center providers will benefit, but this transition also has the potential to enrich a new generation of entrepreneurs emerging from within the bitcoin community.

Over the past year, the computing power supporting the bitcoin network has soared, creating a powerful global network backed by 150,000 petaflops per second of computing power, roughly 600 times the combined power of the all the supercomputers in the Top500 list. Practitioners of Bitcoin mining – the term for using data-crunching computers to earn newly-issued virtually currency – are adopting more powerful hardware, pooling their efforts and seeking to slash their power bills.

An Opportunity for the Data Center Industry?

As this trend continues, “production capacity and operating…

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