Chia (XCH) Farmers Respond to Pools

Chia released their pooling protocol making mining more friendly to smaller users. Here's how people are responding.

Chia (XCH) Farmers Respond to Pools
Photo by Maria Krasnova / Unsplash

Chia is a "Proof of Space" cryptocurrency that uses hard drive space instead of electricity to operate its network. In April 2020, Chia exploded in popularity, causing retail shortages of large capacity consumer hard drives.

The Chia version 1 release allowed enthusiasts, called "farmers," to use consumer-grade hardware to mine Chia paid in exchange for keeping hard drives online to operate the Chia network. Early adopters filled hard drives with Chia "plots" used to power the network. A standard plot is takes 101 GiB of hard drive space and several hours to generate. Generating Chia plots puts considerable wear on the hardware used--usually a Solid State Drive (SSD).

The original Chia network operates on a lottery that pays 2 XCH (~$530) at a time, but for non-commercial farming operations, it can take months to win. The new Chia software release allows farmers to create new plots and join pools that pay out smaller amounts more frequently and consistently. Pools and original plots will operate on the same network.

Earnings of a farmer with 1,000 plots, or roughly 6 16TB hard drives:

  • Old software: $530 per 2-3 months
  • Pools release: $7 per day

The Chia sub-Reddit surveyed farmers about their preferences following the pools release, here's the results:

  • Small farmers (less than 1PiB) are ~2.5x more likely to re-plot for pools
  • Large farmers (more than 1PiB) are split on whether they'll re-plot or continue with their original plots

This makes sense. Small farmers benefit from joining a pool because they will win more consistently, eliminating the variance in income. Large farmers already win daily and have less need to join pools.