What are Scrypt and SHA-256?
SHA-256 and Scrypt are the most used algorithm systems in cryptocurrency mining for authenticating blocks of transaction data which are set by the developers of a given type of currency.
SHA-256 has a higher complexity of the two, used in Bitcoin and most currencies forked from its code. Processing block data is more time-consuming, which results in transaction turnaround times being measured in minutes as opposed to seconds—but it’s said that it’s also more comprehensive and less susceptible to errors.
Proponents also claim it has better data security. Coin mining with SHA-256 often requires hash rates at the GH/s range or higher, meaning that individual miners encounter difficulties in producing a block. Those who do often use hardware for this type of mining set up the device to perform only mining operations.
Scrypt is a faster and simpler algorithm, and it has become a favorite among new digital currencies that are introduced into space. Scrypt can be easily run on a CPU, and it is less energy-consuming than SHA-256, which in turn, makes it a favorite of most individual miners.
Scrypt’s hash rates for generating new coins usually situated in the kilohashes per second (KH/s) or megahashes per second (MH/s) ranges, which can be done using regular computers instead of ASICs or other specialized hardware.
Some dispute this simpler system can be affected more easily by security issues since fast transaction turnaround times involve a less detail investigation of the date on the system’s part. But so far, there have been no cases of real-world issues.
It is expected that in the future hash difficulties for the more popular currencies that use the SHA-256 mining algorithm—such as Bitcoin—will increase, which will lead to the limitation of crypto mining to mining pools or industrial miners. Because of this, it’s expected that Scrypt-based cryptocurrencies will experience an increase in popularity, based on their ease of mining.
Mining with a Scrypt ASIC vs SHA-256 Comparison
Bitcoin uses the SHA-256 algorithm to generate hashes that represent the data stored in blocks on the blockchain. As we mentioned above, SHA-256 is more complex to run, meaning that it’s highly accurate and secure, but also slow. This is why ten minutes are required to generate only one block on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Mining using SHA-256 demands a high hash rate use, and because of it, miners have to employ dedicated hardware rather than a GPU, as it produces higher hash rates.
By 2011, miners had made the transition to customizable hardware, known as Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), as a means of directing additional computing power into mining. After the first ASIC was released in 2013, mining became an operation of the industrial level, and by 2014, ASICs started dominating the Bitcoin mining market.
The Scrypt algorithm was first introduced by Litecoin’s developers in 2011. At that moment, the algorithm was considered to be resistant to the newer mining hardware that was being used for Bitcoin mining.
As Scrypt is a less complex algorithm and requires a lower hash rate, Litecoin’s block generation time is only two and a half minutes.
However, Scrypt requires more memory resources than SHA-256. The hardware accessible at the time of Litecoin’s release wasn’t able to mine Scrypt. Even as ASICs emerged in 2013, they were made for SHA-256 deployment. Because of this, GPUs were used exclusively to mine Litecoin for a brief period of time.
But this era was short-lived, as, in 2014, ZeusMiner released its first Scrypt ASIC. Currently, both markets for SHA256 and Scrypt ASIC hardware are under the monopoly of mining giant Bitmain.
Coins that use SHA-256 algorithm
Some example of coins which use SHA-256 algorithm are:
Coins that use Scrypt algorithm
Some examples of coins that employ the Scrypt algorithm are:
When selecting the type of coin you want to mine, you have to take into consideration various factors. Profit rate is one of them, and you can estimate it by using a calculator.
Coins also require different mining software to run on, some of which have a higher degree of complexity in comparison to others. Hardware and electricity costs are also an issue, which in SHA-256 mining are quite high.
You’ll also have to determine if you want to mine in a mining pool or individually, which may be the only option for very new altcoins.
Before getting involved in mining, one should thoroughly do their research before buying any hardware such as an SHA-256 or Scrypt ASIC. Considering the current state of the market, the potential of making a profit out of mining is very low, and it could be a long time before you start producing a return on investment.