What kind of equipment will be required for dedicated farming?

This is a difficult question to answer because:

  • the network isn’t running yet, so there is no data
  • even when it is running, things will change as the network grows and the volume of data storage, communications and access changes

Two key factors will be the rank of your node and the volume of data it is given to store. The higher your rank, the more data you will be trusted to store, and the more data you store the more chances you will have to farm Safecoin. But whenever you get this opportunity, you will be competing with the other vaults who hold that same chunk of data, and only the first to provide the data will be rewarded. So in addition to rank and storage capacity, speed will also help.

So what are the factors that affect rank? Rank is a measure of how useful and reliable a node you are, which assuming you are a well behaved node, comes down mainly to availability over time. There is a FAQ video where David Irvine discusses this if you want to dive deeper.

A final factor is cost. As a farmer, it’s no good earning all the Safecoin if you do it by spending more than you earn, through buying and powering fast hardware and massive disks. So low power consumption could well be an important factor in being a successful farmer.

This is good, because it is unlike bitcoin, where spending lots of money on dedicated mining hardware allows a few companies to corner most of the the income. That’s both inefficient (because it encourages maximum energy use) and unhealthy (because it causes centralisation).

In SAFE much of the network will be provided by users sharing spare capacity on their existing machines. The farming costs for these people are very low: they don’t have to buy extra hardware or spend on energy to power a machine that is already switched on. This immediately limits the potential benefit of being a dedicated farmer - who will have to compete not just on performance, but to do so at low cost in terms of hardware and energy use.

So if you plan to buy and run dedicated hardware, you’ll want to find a sweet spot between setup and running cost, and competing for rewards based on availability, performance (response time) and storage capacity.

I hope you can see why this question is hard to answer! And why you need to do your research and make choices based on that, and on what others suggest - but also realising that no one knows.

Personally I’m going to set up at least a couple of small low power SoC (system in a chip) devices: for this I like the Odroid systems from Hardkernel, and have built the MaidSafe code on these and connected them to testnet2 - but there are other choices as well. I like the Odroids because they are low power, reasonably fast, and quite cheap.

You’ll find discussions about all the issues I’ve mentioned by searching for “farming” or “hardware” over on the forum at http://MaidSafe.org. I’ve also posted a bit there about the ODROID-U3, but hardkernel just released a new model, the XU3-Lite that I might try too.

My advice is to focus on availability, and low cost & power in the beginning. Either use hardware you already have and is already on most of the time, or buy something cheap and low power that you can leave switched on without worrying about the cost. Once the network has been live for a while things will change, and also become clearer, so later on you’ll be better able to decide whether it’s worth spending more on farming hardware, or sticking with a basic setup, perhaps just adding some extra storage.

(The above taken from my answer to a question on reddit 10th November 2014)

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Me to, one for me, one for my cousin who bought 10 bitcoins to buy safecoin and was hacked and one more to give away. I have no idea what works best so will choose a beagleboard|odroid setup with an ssd hard drive (for power consumption). In the early days it is likely any setup will win, but depending on how fast the network grows these will for sure become less profitable, but hopefully still just worth it. So many variables, you are correct Mark it is hard, but I think a good guess will be profitable in the early days. I am not profit motivated enough to calculate it, which is good as the network is designed for maximum distribution and logic, if I were profit driven I could answer these questions better, but I would not be me and the network would not be SAFE :smile:

In any case, brilliant explanation of a hard question.

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Thanks @dirvine. Am sorry for your cousin, that’s a big hit and a reminder for us all.

HDD v SSD is a tricky one.

A 1TB SSD for a laptop costs £300, while an external 4TB HDD is £200. So power costs have quite a gap to close. Someone else can do the maths :wink:

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Yea John is the local help everyone chap so it was a load of peoples cash he had, he was gutted but OK now as he knows I will ‘farm’ for him.

Totally agree, my green creds kick in so I will possibly lose cash again :slight_smile: I always feel good but end up cash poor, I am sure I win, but it’s certainly not obvious :smiley:

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The trend of global temperatures hasn’t been increasing 18 years and 1 month now, so it probably isn’t because of SSDs ;-).
But seriously, if you are concerned about the harmless CO2 emmissions and if spinning disk is 1/6th (according to HB above) of the cost of SSD storage, you could buy a 4TB HDD and a a small wind turbine + battery and still save money (oh, yeah - and CO2).

My current best guess as to ideal dedicated hardware for farming:

  • Hardware on the FreeBSD supported hardware list (https://www.freebsd.org/relnotes/CURRENT/hardware/index.html)
  • A low end Haswell or later CPU, preferably with ECC RAM support. These have really excellent idle power consumption, if you don’t care about power consumption then Ivy or Sandy Bridge CPUs are fine. Note that FreeBSD currently has poor support for Haswell CPUs.
  • As fast and low latency a network connection as you can afford.
  • Running FreeBSD 10 64 bit or later.
  • ZFS as the filing system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS) with 4k alignment during config.
  • As many hard drives as you can afford for the main ZFS backing. Ideally mirrored so they can self heal bit rot, but not strictly necessary.
  • A small but fast SSD as the ZFS log intent device. This makes synchronous (fsynced) writes very fast. You don’t need it bigger than the largest amount of synchronously written data to occur at once, so even a 16Gb SSD is probably way overkill. Make sure you only allocate half of the device to the intent log leaving the other half trimmed empty, ZFS does a ton of writing and will wear out a SSD quickly if you give it the full device.
  • As much (preferably ECC) RAM as you can afford for read caching by ZFS. 32Gb is probably enough. Some like to add another SSD for this, you can if you want.

That is probably a good best estimate for ideal dedicated farming hardware in terms of balancing power consumption, earnings and cost. I hope that helps.

Niall

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Can we already load some farming MaidSafe code and connect to a test network? That will be great to install everyting before so the team can test the network… Also, I will be ready, for the day one.

Hello everyone,

I am new to the forum and very interested in the farming project. Is it going to be anything like what Ripple Labs had with the World Community Grid when they gave a way free XRP for donating your computer’s unused memory? Also, is the software for MaidSafe ready for installation so we could get our machines ready before the launch?

Looking forward to mine and very excited.

Soleri

Hi Soleri,

You won’t be given any safecoins, you can dedicate a part of your computer to earn them through something called farming.

This might be a good explanation:


I don’t think I can answer your other question, so you should wait for someone from Maidsafe to answer that.

EDIT: You can find many, very many answer in the SystemDocs over here:
http://maidsafe.net/SystemDocs/what_it_is/README.html

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  • Why do you suggest FreeBSD over, let’s say, debian? Any particular reason?
  • Do you think ECC RAM is really necessary considerung the costs that are associated with the equipment?

I’m also wondering if it will make more sense to run several VMs instead of one host, but guess we’ll have to wait for the testnet to come up.

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Here is a video that shows the Odroid C1 with EMMC in action.

dd outputs 71MB/s

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ECC RAM is probably unnecessary for home computers which spend most of their lives turned off. However my ZFS cluster went from 10 bit scrub repairs per month to less than 1 bit when I replaced my commodity hardware with proper server grade hardware with ECC RAM (don’t get me wrong, it could also be any other component).

Would a 10x reduction in bit errors affect SAFE network ranking? The answer is I don’t know for sure as the absolute measure is more important. But in terms of uptime and consistent reliability BSD is second to none out of free operating systems, and adding ECC RAM really shows that difference. It isn’t as fast as Linux, but it doesn’t randomly stall or see weird performance corner cases like Linux. Basically with BSD you get what you see, and that’s why all the major technology multinationals run BSD as core part of their server configuration whereas Linux would tend to be deployed to less critically important parts.

The relative under stability of Linux may be about to change though. See http://m.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2359272/facebook-wants-linux-network-stack-to-rival-or-exceed-freebsd posted some months ago.

Niall

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