The rise of storage-based cryptocurrency Chia has caused a run on high capacity hard drives, aggravating supply problems and creating new ones. One market player has noticed.
Seagate, the storage hardware giant, revealed in an email Q&A with TechRadar Pro that it is closely monitoring the space with a view towards potentially launching a new range of purpose-built drives.
Jason M. Feist from Seagate’s emerging product arm said that it is possible for storage products to be developed specifically for crypto uses.
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Feist stated that he couldn’t provide any concrete information, but suggested that the company was “exploring this opportunity” and may also be open to other opportunities.
The Chia network is not like other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin which are energy-intensive and pit miners against each other. Instead, it operates under proof of space. This is how so-called farmers (notice the deliberate difference in terminology), set aside storage space for cryptographic numbers called plots.
“Farmers can scan their plots when the blockchain broadcasts a challenge to the next block to find the hash closest to the challenge. The probability that a farmer will win a block depends on how much space he has compared with the rest of the network.” Chia’s website explains.
Although proof of space doesn’t negate the need for computation-based mining, the enthusiasm surrounding the Chia project is believed to have caused shortages in many regions. Reports also suggest that Chia can consume at alarming rates.
It’s possible that storage players could do something similar to Nvidia, which launched a line of mining-specific GPUs in order to increase supply and protect mining performance.
Feist answered a question about the viability of storage-based cryptocurrency. He explained that Seagate is impartial but recognizes both need and opportunity.
We don’t make the case for or against cryptocurrency. He said that he understood the need. Crypto miners and farmers are asking for guidance because our mass-capacity storage drive has been world class and highly in demand. We can provide that.
He pointed out that businesses could profit from this trend by monetizing their idle storage capacity.
“Whether it happens or not, blockchain and decentralisation have power and staying power. It’s time for us to make space for it, on our drives and transactions as well as in realms yet to be discovered.
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