I keep getting asked what hardware am I using on reddit r/chia so rather than keep typing out the same message 10 times a day I have decided to post it here.
The rig described below allows generation of 11 plots every 10 hours (just over 2.5TiB a day), and has a farming capacity of over 72 drives.
Things to consider if you’re starting up from scratch:
If you’re reading this because you’re looking to start farming yourself, remember the likelihood of building a farm capable of receiving several XCH a month is getting more financially expensive every day (due both to hardware availability and Chia network growth). You also need to factor in the cost plotting, electricity, and replacement parts when things start to die. Start with what you have, jump in on pooling (as soon as it becomes available), and grab anything you can when it comes up at a good price. Even then, you need to be committed to running your farm for months or even years to see a decent return.
Switching from gaming to Chia … the plotter:
Everything starts with plotting, and getting as many plots as possible for a minimal financial outlay. To have any chance of keeping up with the global network growth, I’ve needed to plot fast. Fortunately I already had a fairly powerful gaming rig available – so a small investment of enterprise grade SSDs is achieving just over a plot per hour (average).
Gaming rig specs (already owned, so not counted as a “Chia cost”):
- Ryzen 9 3900x (12 core 24 threads)
- Corsair Vegance DDR4 3600mhz (4x 16gb)
- Samsung Evo 970 500gb (OS Drive, not used for plotting)
- Samsung pm983 1.9 TB enterprise grade SSDs (x2 plotting drives – housed in ASUS HYPER M.2 X16 CARD V2)
Initially a pair of 2TB HDDs and a single 4TB drive in this same PC acted as my farm.
Moving from an allotment to a smallholding… the farm:
The starting 8TB of farming capacity was quickly filled given the rate I was able to plot. So my next challenge was finding a scalable storage solution at a reasonable price.
After considering many options, I settled on committing to SAS based disk arrays (JBODs – Just a Bunch Of Disks / DASes – Direct Attach Storages). eBay is an incredible source for finding affordable, used, enterprise grade IT equipment, and it has certainly delivered:
- 2x Netapp DS4643 JBODs (24 bays each)
- 1x Promise JBOD (24 bays)
- 1x Dell T310 server (donated by @wally)
- 1x 32U full-depth server rack (collected for free – kudos to …)
SAS JBODs typically accept both SAS and SATA drives (SAS supports both), and I’ve been able to secure a lot of smaller ~3TB drives for an average of ~6GBP per TB. In the JBODs, I presently have 60 x 3TB drives, 10 x 4TB drives, and 2 x 6TB drives.
The drives are hooked up via a SAS HBA (Host Bus Adapter) inside the Dell T310. Farming isn’t super latency sensitive (you don’t need SSD performance for farming) and isn’t particularly high data throughput either (it’s efficient at locating potential matches on disk), so an old generation 6Gb/s HBA with each of the JBODs daisy chained is just fine.
Regarding drive redundancy – there’s none. If a drive dies, I replace it and replot. Using a RAID array makes no sense for farming, as it reduces overall capacity and increases the likelihood of loosing the entire farm. Plots are replaceable, so there’s no backups or redundancy.
Each of the drives is NTFS formatted and mounted as a Windows directory on the Dell T310, which hosts the Chia farmer.