The cost of mining Bitcoin has skyrocketed since its inception. Bitcoin is mined through computers guessing hashes until they get the correct one.
The difficulty level for Bitcoin has increased over the years which has made the hardware requirements for Bitcoin miners increase as well.
This increase in hardware requirements has made some computer hardware, like graphics cards, so in demand, they sell out immediately and end up being sold on third-party websites for 10 times their MSRP.
Each block in the blockchain contains data that takes up hard drive space. The Bitcoin blockchain is now over 300GB in size and the Ethereum blockchain is now over 1TB in size.
The growth of these chains has made some developers look to other options like sharding.
Sharding means you do not have to download the entire blockchain; only parts of the blockchain that overlap with other users, just enough to where the data is still secure and immutable.
The requirements for running a node are high enough that most of the mining is done through mining farms that have special equipment designed for running the network.
The amount of different computers running the Bitcoin network adds to the level of decentralization. In order to shut down the network, a vast majority of the nodes would need to be simultaneously taken down.
This increased hardware demand has dropped the number of unique node holders which in turn has reduced the decentralized nature of the blockchain.
At one point mainland China held 75% of the hash power for Bitcoin but after the latest ban, they now hold 0%.
In a recent interview with Paddy Cerri, CTO and Co-founder of Minima, the topic of hardware requirements came up. Cerri believes that the future of blockchain includes blockchains that can be run on any device, even single microchips.
With few requirements, the number of nodes around the world would be exponential. Cerri believes the future will be in software that runs in the background of mobile phones and focuses only on transactions made by you solely.
This Proof of Work system would not bring any financial incentive to the user but would allow the user to utilize the chain.
There are a few phone mining applications already on the market. The increased stress it puts on a phone device (and the little reward for doing it) derails people from this option.
Proof of Stake consensus on the other hand does not require a large amount of hardware but instead stakes a large amount of the token as a security.
There are many options for those who do not have supercomputers to run a node. The question is, which ones will be the most lucrative while also maintaining decentralization and security?