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When Bitcoin was first launched, CPU was the only hardware device which miners used to mine bitcoins. However, in today's date, CPU is not considered a good and profitable mining interface, since graphics cards and special hardware devices such as FPGAs or ASICs are faster in solving computational equations which create BTC. Nonetheless, there are a few specific mining programs such as cpuminer which run on CPUs. You will have download cpuminer and then configure it with a mining pool.
The advent of high-end graphics cards brought about a major change in the mining landscape. A few years ago, CPU mining finally gave way to efficient GPU mining. Any functional GPU may be used in Bitcoin mining, but the AMD line of GPU design is proven to be better than the Nvidia design for Bitcoin mining. The ATI Radeon HD 5870 is, by far, the most cost-effective option at the moment. If you have decided to buy the best GPU mining hardware, it is important to take into account the total consumption of power and the cost incurred. No doubt, GPU mining is better than CPU mining. However, when speaking of profits, the output is more or less negligible.
Just like the CPU to GPU shift, the world of Bitcoin mining proceeded to the Field Programmable Gate Array. With the auspicious launch of Butterfly Labs FPGA, Bitcoin mining made way for the uniquely constructed hardware which is committed to mining BTC. This was the very first FPGA device to exceed the mining power of 25 GH/s with only one device. Butterfly Labs FPGA devices became popular among Bitcoin miners once mining with graphics cards became a competitive affair. To bring about a balance between the capital investments and the electricity costs, FPGAs were created. The FPGA rigs were not only efficient with an average mining speed of 500MHz or more, but also consumed less electrical units.
The world of Bitcoin mining has wholly adopted the Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) system. The ASIC chip is specially designed to perform mining activities. An ASIC model cannot be remodelled to perform other duties. There are a lot of similarities between the FPGA and the ASIC hardware. Both run the same logic function-based operations, thereby generating considerable hashing power in a cost-effective way. However, with the advent of ASIC, FPGA started to fall back. Just like FPGAs, it was the Butterfly Labs which declared the launch of first ever ASIC hardware. The most popular ASIC mining devices in today’s date are AntMiner S7, AntMiner S9 and Avalon6.