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Author Topic: Could network routers mine with custom firmware?  (Read 1097 times)
TiagoTiago
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October 27, 2011, 12:25:28 AM
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Some network routers can be flashed with custom firmware, there are even some linux based firmwares avaiable out there; could those firmwares be modified to include a miner? What hash per joule ratio should be expected? Would that increase their power consumption significantly? And would running a miner have any significant effect on the network performance?

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October 27, 2011, 08:14:17 AM
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Yes they could be flashed with custom firmware, but the ARM processor within would be so pathetic it would be completely and utterly pointless. The power consumption probably wouldn't increase by much. Network performance (I'm guessing) wouldn't drop as the miner would run at a lower priority, so network processing would take priority. But if it's a busy network then there'd be hardly any processor time left for mining anyway making it next to useless.

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October 27, 2011, 08:47:04 AM
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But if it is connected to a pool, would the trickle of bitcents compensate the very small increase in power consumption?

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October 27, 2011, 08:58:28 AM
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You would literally get 0.2BTC PER YEAR at current difficulty levels......

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October 27, 2011, 09:08:58 AM
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If the net result is positive, anything is better than nothing.

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October 27, 2011, 02:14:18 PM
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If the net result is positive, anything is better than nothing.

It isn't something from nothing.  You would be using 100% of router computing power.  It would be able to "route" without computing power. 

So take cost of router / 0.2BTC per year to get you break even point ... in years!

If you wanted to dual use the router that would be a much more complex project because you would need a firmware to do all normal router stuff PLUS use some of CPU time for hashing.  How much CPU time you could use would be hard to know and likely vary based on network load the router is under.  Also I suspect most routers are cheaply made and take a gamble the CPU won't be @ 100% load 24/7/365.  Good chance you are going to cook it, if it doesn't have enough cooling.
Tim the Magician
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October 30, 2011, 06:07:20 PM
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If the net result is positive, anything is better than nothing.

There are a few issues with your plan..

Your routers may have a technical limitation. The amount of storage space available for the router firmware is very limited.  There may not be enough storage to accommodate the routing software, mining software and whatever temporary storage is required for routing and mining.

Currently your routers do not run at 100% CPU.  Changing them to 24/7 100% operation would consume more electricity.. likely enough to eliminate any profits (assuming you are paying the bill).  Also, most routers are not designed to run with such high constant load and generally do not have sufficient cooling solutions installed.  You are likely to reduce the operating life of your routers significantly.

You are talking about writing your own custom firmware which would both enable all current router functions as well as some sort of idle cycle detection which would launch the mining activity.  This would be a significant amount of effort.  I suspect you are thinking of deploying this to a significant number of routers to achieve a multiplier to your 0.20 / year Bitcoin bounty.  You might require multiple firmware packages to accommodate different router models and hardware revisions.  The amount of time required to develop, test and maintain all this firmware will be very significant.  

You are likely to see an increase in network issues.  The combined router / miner will not have the same routing efficiency as a dedicated router.  Overburdened and overheating hardware will likely cause intermittent failures. If these routers are located at your work these failures could result in discovery which could cost you your job.

So.. if a few Bitcoins / year is worth hundreds of hours of programming work and the possibility of losing your job then this sounds like a great idea.
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October 30, 2011, 08:29:31 PM
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100% CPU on your typical router would more or less probably "eliminate" the router less alone profits :-)
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