Because of the recent initiative by the SpaceFarmers Chia Pool, farmers building a BlueBox timelord is back in vogue. Due to some updates made by Chia Network there is no longer a major risk to the network from running a whole pile of them, and a whole pile of them we have.
If you check out AreWeCompactifiedYet you can see that the curve has radically changed since SpaceFarmers started their little project and Chia Network responded. And now I have built one as well. And I have documented the process. SpaceFarmers has an excellent guide on their Wiki but it assumes a person who has already installed Chia on Linux. Because BlueBox Timelords only work on Linux right now I have developed a guide for a start to finish BlueBox timelord in the How-To section.
Right now my BlueBox timelord is running on my daily driver Ubuntu desktop (yes, I daily drive Linux and farm on Windows right now. Fight me) using 6 of 8 available cores on my Ryzen 7 5800x. Other than some heat coming out of my radiator I barely notice its happening and it doesn’t disrupt my computing experience at all. And I am doing some decent numbers I am told, with between 40 and 50 compacted proofs per hour. I think this is fun, and a really easy and cheap way for Chia farmers to give back to the community using idle hardware.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the effect this has on the “green” nature of the Chia network. This is a legitimate concern as the VDF compactification process is absolutely a compute intensive process that increases the total energy footprint of the network. I doubt that Chia Network is considering the power usage here when Gene gives his “how many Hoover Dams” analogy, but its probably not a significant amount in the grand scheme of things. And it isn’t a requirement for the network to function.
There probably won’t ever be more than a few 100 BlueBox timelords on the network at any given time, and if there are for too long we will run out of work to do and it won’t run full tilt anymore. At that point we can turn most of them off. With a single 5800x I am doing like 50 an hour, could probably do 60 if I had it going as hard as possible. So it would only take a small handful, like 3 or 4, of them to deal with all the proofs being created in real time once the process is caught up. That’s pretty neat when you think about it!