This Guy Turned a Vintage Game Boy Into A (Very Slow) Bitcoin Miner
updated on:29 Mar 2021
Stacksmashing, a pseudonymous IT researcher and YouTube content creator, has adapted a 1989 Game Boy–Nintendo’s first major portable game console–into a Bitcoin miner. Albeit a rather slow one.
The modified Game Boy can mine Bitcoin at a “pretty impressive” hash rate of roughly 0.8 hashes per second.
“If you compare that to a modern ASIC miner, which comes in at around 100 terahashes per second, you can see that we are almost as fast, only off by a factor of roughly 125 trillion,” said Stacksmashing.According to the researcher, it should only take “a couple of quadrillion years to mine a Bitcoin” at such a rate.
“It’s without a doubt the slowest miner I’ve ever heard of. But you have heard of it!” Stacksmashing boasted on Twitter.
Modding a Game Boy into a Bitcoin miner
According to the published video, since the device has no built-in wireless connectivity, Stacksmashing turned to a $4 Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller board and a USB flash card. Armed with these, the modder connected his Game Boy console to a Bitcoin node on his computer.
The next step was to create a custom mining firmware, as well as to modify the code for ntgbtminer, a mining program Stacksmashing used for the experiment.
The challenge wasn't over, though, because of the difference in the voltage requirements for the Raspberry Pi Pico and the Nintendo Game Link Cable–the former runs at 3.3V, while the latter operates at 5V levels. To do the voltage translation, Stacksmashing implemented a simple four-channel, bi-directional logic shifter.
Given the rate at which it mines Bitcoin, probably the most concerning part of this hack is how big the pile of discarded batteries would be after a couple of quadrillion years. One more thing to worry about, on top of Bitcoin's environmental impact.
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