Mining on a 16MHz Intel 386SX CPU.

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bitcoin miner

The mining of cryptocurrency is now done on various devices, starting from the simple¬†Raspberry Pi¬†to customized mining rigs. However, we rarely see a rig that is as retro as this. Retrocomputing enthusiast Dmitrii Eliuseev owns this mining laptop powered by an antique. He recently¬†posted a blog entry¬†detailing how he used the original Toshiba T3200SX laptop with a 16MHz Intel 386SX processing unit (not even an XD!) to mine Bitcoin. According to Eliuseev’s calculations, it would take Toshiba 584 million years to make $1 worth of Bitcoin.

Before embarking on his journey to mine Bitcoin using the Toshiba T3200SX, Eliuseev thought about the vast array of computers used for the same profit-making goal. On top of the list of Bitcoin mining machines are specifically designed ASIC-powered Bitcoin farms. It has been a while since personal PCs and computers were used to mine BTC directly, regardless of their power. Yet, some people have set up Bitcoin mining on devices as fundamental as smartphones or SBCs such as those of the Raspberry Pi — to have amusement.

The Toshiba T3200SX was released in 1989. The pricing at the launch of just $6,299 ($13,896 in the current currency) was beyond the reach of many people. It was equipped with an Intel 80386SX processor with 16 MHz which was considered cutting-edge at the time, particularly for a machine that could be carried around.

The inability to find mining software-led Eliuseev to create a Bitcoin mining program based on the algorithm SHA256. Through this process, it was a constant struggle to push against the limitations of 16 bits on the DOS platform; however, with perseverance and hard work, the developer came up with his software and made it available on GitHub. The code can be built on a modern Windows machine with the open-source open Watcom compiler before being transferred back to an older DOS machine like the Toshiba 386SX. Or, interested users can build this code using a current PC using an MS-DOS-based compiler, such as Borland C++ using the DOSBox emulator, before transferring the code to.


Wow! But not in a positive manner


We are now at the question of the speed at which this 32-year-old 386-powered laptop can mine Bitcoin. It’s impressive given the time it takes to finish enough work to earn one penny. In the estimation of Eliuseev, it would take Toshiba 584 million years to generate $1 Bitcoin. This is due to a blazing 15 H/s hash speed -indeed, it’s hashed per second.

In comparison, the Bitcoin mining process on an old laptop isn’t consuming excessive power. It used about 39W engaged in the crypto mining process. But, as per an analysis of mining profitability that we tested, the users could lose approximately $3.37 per month if they were to follow this procedure, so the possibility of earning $1 over nearly 600 million years of mining seems more unlikely.

For putting the laptop’s 15 H/s figure into the proper context, It’s an impressive performance compared to those of the Toshiba T1100 Plus model with a 7.1MHz 8086 CPU and 3.6 hashes/s. Elise noted. Let’s look at something more contemporary.

The retro-minded tinkerer claims that the minor Raspberry Pi 4 can achieve “about 200 KH/s” -We cannot confirm the Raspberry Pi bitcoin mining performance figures. When BTC mining on CPUs BTC was the norm (i.e., from mid-2011), CPUs such as the i7-990X were nearly a million times more efficient than the 80386SX. Nowadays, a top-of-the-line modern ASIC miner like the¬†Bitmain Antminer S19 Pro¬†can run at 110 TH/s. That’s only seven trillionths faster than an older Toshiba laptop.


Further demonstrating the cryptocurrency mining on everything/anything trend recently, Tom’s Hardware has reported on different cryptocurrencies being mined using Tesla Cars or using background processes running on your PC that are run by antivirus software. Someone must find out the best way to extract Bitcoin using the old HP calculator similar to my high school.

Aizaz khan

Aizaz khan

Aizaz was the first person to get a byline on his blog on technology from his home in Bannu in 2017. Then, he went on to a career in breaking things professionally at my electric sparks which is where he eventually took over the kit as a hardware editor. Today, as the senior editor of hardware for my electric sparks, he spends time reporting about the most recent developments in the hardware industry and technology. If he's not reporting on hardware or electronics, you'll see him trying to be as remote from the world of technology as possible through camping in the wild.