Bitcoin mining on a 55 year old IBM 1401 mainframe: 80 seconds per hash

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Ken Shirriff writes:

Could an IBM mainframe from the 1960s mine Bitcoin? The idea seemed crazy, so I decided to find out. I implemented the Bitcoin hash algorithm in assembly code for the IBM 1401 and tested it on a working vintage mainframe. It turns out that this computer could mine, but so slowly it would take more than the lifetime of the universe to successfully mine a block. While modern hardware can compute billions of hashes per second, the 1401 takes 80 seconds to compute a single hash. This illustrates the improvement of computer performance in the past decades, most famously described by Moore’s Law.

Details at┬áKen’s blog.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi,

    ‘Moore’s Law’ stated that the density of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every two years. It did not say anything specifically about computer performance improvements, although a case can be made that you can’t have one without the other.

    John

  2. So, instead he should have said “House’s Corollary to Moore’s Law states that *performance* will double roughly every 18 months.” instead… :P

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