A Bitcoin Mining Example For The BeagleBone With An FPGA Shield


If you’ve got a BeagleBone and an FPGA board you should give this Bitcoin mining rig a try. The hardware uses brute-force to solve hashes, looking for the rare sets that can be used as digital currency. This particular example is designed for the LOGi-bone which is an FPGA shield for the BeagleBone. But we don’t see anything that would make this difficult to use with other FPGA hardware.

We’ve seen FPGA hardware bitcoin mining in the past. It doesn’t offer as much horsepower as an array of GPUs would, but the ARM/FPGA combo can be used in a cluster in order to speed up the process. This sounds like a fun group project to take on at the local Hackerspace.

35 thoughts on “A Bitcoin Mining Example For The BeagleBone With An FPGA Shield

    1. This particular dev board won’t be terrible useful, but more expensive models can theoretically match an FPGA. Also, note that many people either don’t pay for electricity or can use the “waste” heat for a useful purpose. For example, I use my GPU to mine bitcoins *and* to heat my bedroom, rather than running a space heater that can only do one of these things. Besides, my computer is going to be turned on regardless.

  1. Can someone explain bitcoins? How and what is “mining” of the bitcoins? I’ve had a look on the net but don’t really understand it. My understanding is this so far:

    1. Mine coins
    2. ???
    3. Profit (somehow)

    1. in bitcoins the action of mining for bitcoins not only increases its network security but also generates more bitcoins.(currently 25 per block of sha 256 bit codes that are solved as solutions)
      using the “best most possible” hardware available, one mines for them using either cg miner or some simple thing like bitminter.

      either way once generated bitcoins are the ultimate anonymous currency, you cash is nothing more then a bunch of 256bit cryptographic #”s.

      many have tried to compare its activity curve too other currencies, but the only thing it really meshes with is the human growth curve.

      it will be the welfare currency of the future? how many bitcoins will it taske too cure your cancer??? idk, but im sure if you start now you can live forever while also enjoying the other delights it has too offer.
      for more information email me @ theblobinc@gmail.com
      I’ll sent you my other chat logs with other ppl, you may enjoy them more then actual info made for you.

      1. quote:
        either way once generated bitcoins are the ultimate anonymous currency, you cash is nothing more then a bunch of 256bit cryptographic #”s.

        That’s the rub. I looked into this just when the norm for crunching was multiple GPUs. From what I gathered, those who jumped on board early got lots of bitcoins and spend little. Those who join late get few spend quite a bit more. The value lay with the accepted perceived value agree upon by the masses.

        What I still have trouble with is what is backing these bitcoins?

        All I see is a bunch of twats wagging their hardware dicks around like a prick waving jewelry at a sealed deck tournament . If that’s an incorrect perception please show me where the real value of the bitcoins come in.

        1. It’s not completely incorrect, but it’s overlooking the few markets that do exist for Bitcoin. If you want, you can use your hard-mined BTC to purchase drugs for your soldering iron vaporizer over the Silk Road, or buy kiddie porn. I would have listed “Slim Jims and slightly-rotten dehydrated berries” in there, but bitmunchies closed down over a year ago, and I’m not quite sure what happened to Mr. I’ll-Dry-Some-Berries-On-Racks-Heated-By-My-Mining-Rigs.

          1. There’s a lot of other uses than what you focus on. You can buy services and good from all the parties that accepts them. I’ve gotten paid in Bitcoins for doing sysadmin work and I’ve bought hardware with Bitcoins. I’ve donated some to article/software writers that I think are doing great things – as well as the Internet Archive and the EFF.

            Besides, any currency can be used to buy drugs, sexual services and/or contraband. Yes, it happens with most, if not all currencies.

            Please be less condensing and ignorant in the future.

        2. “What I still have trouble with is what is backing these bitcoins?”

          Nothing. Nothing but faith in the system that allows you to use them as a medium of exchange. Much like any modern currency, really. This is probably gives me the most laughs when I read a post by some someone going “rawr, rawr, rawr, fiat currency sucks. rawr rawr, yea bitcoins.”

        3. Bitcoin is completely pointless. It is not a stable currency, and flawed from a security pov so doesn’t meet either of it’s main aims. Not only that but its a massive waste of limited energy resources, and steals people from other *useful* peer computing projects on the promise of a quick buck while no one but the earliest ‘miners’ can even turn a profit! People should really be ashamed to have anything to do with it, it exposes them as greedy and foolish.

    2. Essentially, when you “mine” bitcoins, what your computer is doing is performing many complex hashing calculations that resolve the transactions in the system. Without miners, no bitcoins could be exchanged.

      To bootstrap the currency and “create” bitcoins to be traded, every so many completed calculations rewards the miner who completes it with a bonus (originally 50btc). The number of computations to reach “magic block” is inversely related to how quickly these computations are being resolved. Mining is a zero sum game, throwing more hashing power at the network gives you a chance at a bigger piece of the pie at the expense of everyone else gunning for that “magic block”.

      After every so many of these blocks of coins are created, the reward is halved. Currently, a bitcoins are created in blocks of 25btc. With 30$ US = 1 BTC, this currently forms the impetuous for “mining like crazy”. In fact, I’m pretty sure the quick rise of the value of BTC against the USD has a bit to do with that halving of the reward, at 12$ US = 1 BTC, you’d have to have a pretty efficient rig just to break even on electricity in most places.

      Also, when a particular “miner” solves a “block” that resolves a transaction, they get credited with any “transaction fees” offered to speed up the transfer of coins from one address to another. Typically, transactions that pay higher transaction fees are resolved first. Eventually, those “transaction fees” will be *the only reward for mining*. This probably creates a vast need to expand the user base.

      The idea is: by the time the “magic blocks” stop paying out vast amounts of bootstrapping BTC, the the vast increase of computing power + widespread adoption of bitcoin would generate transaction fees of enough IRL worth for miners to continue mining.

      That was a long winded explanation, but hopefully I got it mostly right with a minimum of editorializing (I’ll share my 0.02$ on that in a later post, if anyone cares).

      1. After doing a far bit of looking around for a good explanation and even getting started with this whole bitcoin thing, this is the best explanation I’ve read yet. Thanks for clearing up a few things.

    1. If it only was that simple… You see, someone should stand behind the value of the currency. Paper is not worth anything by itself, governments can print as much money as they want. If you want a currency with a value, why not simply use gold? Turns out, this idea often pops up in peoples head. The only dude who got guts to stand up for it though was Gaddafi. He said, – “Hey America, we don’t need your paper. If you want some oil, give us some gold that is actually worth something!” So in a fear that paper won’t buy oil, they used it to buy rockets and beat the crap out of Libya. Gaddafi is dead and the value of green American paper is safe, at least for now. The morale is that if somebody on a large scale would try to consider bit coins as a real currency and would demand bit coins as a payment for their oil, America may as well beat crap out of them putting the end to the story.

    1. So if only suckers get involved, does it mean that those at the top are suckers too? I know a bunch of very talented smart people who are involved in BitCoin. There are brilliant programmers, hardware designers, technology enthusiasts. It is impossible to call those people suckers. They are not by all means. After all, it is not always about money. As other people said, some people could even spend money just to have fun with this technological trend. Have you ever tried programming an FPGA for Ethernet communication, write a PCIe and DMA controller, implement a full Linux kernel bypass, sketch up your own TCP/IP stack and throw a BitCoin mining algorithm on top just to have fun? I haven’t played with BitCoins myself. Nevertheless, taking into account that I am not a public person and do not represent anyone’s opinion but my own, and with all due respect — Fuck You.

  2. The heady ‘get rich quick’ days of bitcoin are over.
    Within the next few months there will be an exponential increase in “difficulty”, you would be lucky to pay your hardware off in a year.
    All the time that year is going by… even more ASIC hardware will be added, further decreasing the returns.

    The only current “get rich” quick schemes are by the people selling the hardware, but even a number of those companies are professional scammers.

    Fees are lagging payment for the blocks, with the result that the system has matured far too quickly to support its self, thereby increasing the risk of attacks on the underlying bitcoin infrastructure.

  3. the way I see it, I plan on building a cluster of asic miners.
    for me I have alot of extra space and dirt cheap power, so mining for bitcoins really makes sense where live.

    if you want too get into bitcoin now adays you really have too take a look at it as a small business, the days of people using their cpu’s and gfx cards too mine for bitcoins are over.
    they were replaced with fpga’s and now asic boards, if you wana mine for bitcoins ya gota buy the right tool! now it will require your greater investment, larger amounts of space, and you will always have too grow.
    all the small people have been forced out, and everybody has too either buy a better rig(and keep doing that), or buy bitcoins from a miner.
    this is how bitcoins are supposed too be, its that wagging contest that keeps bitcoin as secure as it is.
    (anyone who disputes its security should by all means go take the time too go crack it, or why dont ya just go nip some banking transfers while yr at it too???)

    bitcoins is not the end too the government, nor is it your enemy, in fact it is just a tool.
    nothing more nothing less, wether or not you use it, you decide what you do with it.

    I plan on generating bitcoins too buy 1g 24k gold bars, and other precious metals(mostly cuz I need gold and such for various projects)

    it is way cheaper too buy gold that way, at worst I would end up paying 1/4 of the full cost that I would have too shell out in cdn funds.

    either way its all very simple, fewer people will be mining mostly cuz they dont wana shell out the $$$ too buy faster rigs. soon there will be fewer miners, but they will all have faster rigs.
    the action of any of those miners constantly growing and growing, and getting bigger; is mostly what will make bitcoin into a home business(one that anyone can get into)

  4. well bitcoin as a zerosum pyramid , gives power to the early adopters. all the others will just continue salivating look the prices go up as the demand (by trendy popularity) outstrips the production (which becomes more and more diffcult).

    the ironic part is that the popularity of bitcoin gains as the bitcoin gains in price. But the gain in price is the result of less and less supply of bitcoins. So in reality the more scarce (difficult) the mining becomes, the more the price will go up. And by design bitcoin is in the scarcity game (as gold is).
    So economically speaking saying that the price of bitcoin goes up (in dollar terms) is the same thing as saying that bitcoin deflates. And the higher the prices the lower the bitcoins for every newcomer in the “market”. The only think i can assure you, that as bitcoins becomes even more trendy, the price will skyrocket as the supply will becomes less and less, thats why we call it deflation and not appreciation (or profit or windfall or).
    So at the bottom of the pyramid everybody will be salivating with the prices of bitcoins, while they will just hold some scraps of them remembering those golden days when you could mine a bitcoin with a graphic card. Yes my friends by participating you are destined to become the 19th century proletarians of bitcoin (if some hack doesnt destroy everything).

    And all those newcomers in the pyramid formation cyberpunk kids will learn what their great grand parents learned in the 19th century the hard way. The deflationary crises that gold created, were the real reason nobody really thinks about using gold again as currency (ok apart from a small minority of rightwing us nutjobs who know crap about the economy). Because the use of a currency is to facilitate trade not to make a small aristocracy rich by deflation. Except if you are part of this new aristocracy :)

    as many pointed the only true winners will be the ones selling hardware as they gain from popularity and not from the bitcoins per se. Its like the economic transactions in a stockbroker. the broker profits from the game and not the ups and downs on the market

  5. Never mind Bitcoins – assume I want the FPGA board for some other project. How much?
    Oh dear, it’s “Still In Development”. Translation: even if you want one, you can’t have it.

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