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Dedicated ASIC Cards and Blockchain Ecosystem Part 1

Hash rates, hashes and blockchain explorers.

 

An ASIC card is hardware that allows miners create blocks of blockchain on a specific network.

ASIC cards are similar to racing cars. They are really good at performing just one task and this task is coming up with hashes for a specific cryptography algorithm. For example, for Bitcoin ASIC the algorithms are Bitcoin’s proof-of-work and as a part of creating blocks for proof-of-work the card runs sets of data through the cryptography algorithm called SHA-256. The Ethereum network uses the algorithm called Ethash, which means that Bitcoin ASIC cards would not work with the Ethereum network.

A good example of how this works is car racing in real life. Both Formula 1 and Nascar are racing championships and both of them have really powerful cars, yet an F1 car will never win a Nascar race and vice versa because the races are very different. The specifications for the cars are also very different. This does not mean that a Formula 1 car or a Nascar car are bad cars. They are just very specific cars built according to very rigid specifications with a goal of winning races only on certain tracks. Neither car is suitable for daily driving despite of being really powerful and aerodynamically superior to regular everyday cars.

 

Short introduction to cryptography hashes

One of the main characteristics of an ASIC card is hash rate. To understand what ASIC cards really do, you need to understand the concept behind hash rate and to understand hash rate, you need to know what a hash is.

In cryptography, a hash for a set of data is a string that is much shorter than the data. A set of data can only have one set in one cryptography algorithm. Practically speaking this means that when a miner on the Bitcoin network takes information about transactions that are occurring on the network, compiles them into a set of data and generates a hash by running this data through Bitcoin’s cryptography algorithm SHA-256, the miner get a unique hash for this very set of data. Every other computer would receive the same hash by running the same data through the same algorithm. The same set of data will have a different hash in a different cryptography algorithm, which is exactly why it is not possible to use an ASIC card built for one algorithm with a different algorithm.

On most blockchain networks, you can see hashes on the pages of individual blocks. On the Bitcoin network you can see them on the official Bitcoin blockchain explorer at https://blockchain.info/

For example, the hash for the block #525125, which contains information about 2125 transactions, is 0000000000000000001b4e6bf72320488135f1012eb8f49ca0f6a885121a4e05 and you can see this information on the page of the block here: https://blockchain.info/block/0000000000000000001b4e6bf72320488135f1012eb8f49ca0f6a885121a4e05

Ethereum blockchain explorer is located at https://etherscan.io/ and just like with Bitcoin blocks of the Ethereum network have individual pages with details about the block. For example, block 5703224 on the Ethereum network has information about 165 transactions and the hash for the block is 0xc83f3603e7e93cc6fbc44ecc0948bbf020431fddc147dd630319ebaa22766974. You can see this information by visiting the page of the block on the website of the official Ethereum blockchain explorer here: https://etherscan.io/block/5703224

With cryptography hashes, it is possible to generate the hash each time you have the data, but it is not possible to reengineer the data if all you have is a hash. This makes a cryptography hash an excellent tool for information verification. Suppose you send someone some sensitive information and want to make sure that the other party has received the correct information. All you have to do is run the information through a cryptography algorithm and tell the other party the name of the algorithm and the hash. The beauty of the process is that you don’t even have to hide the hash even when the information is secret. You can publish the hash on a website or send it through an unprotected channel because having a hash and no data does nothing. The hash will only be useful to the other party as a verification tool. If all you have is a hash, you can’t tell anything. For example, the hash for the block #5703223 of the Ethereum blockchain is 0xd9266f29935f357bd8bdf183b0b4bef77bfb764b901855c47c3b68387296e106. If all you know about the block is its hash, you can’t tell anything about the block. You still don’t know the time of the creation of the block, the number of transactions that it includes, the amounts of transactions and so on (all the information for this very block of the Ethereum network is located here: https://etherscan.io/block/5703223). Without the data, hashes are useless.