The profile of the average bitcoin miner has changed dramatically over the course of the currency's short history.
Once the pursuit of hobbyists with powerful CPUs (and later GPUs), mining is now a highly competitive business performed on an industrial scale.
But what is life like inside one of these power guzzling giants? Blogger Bitsmith found out first-hand on a trip to a one of the world's biggest facilities at a mystery location in China. Check out the scenes he witnessed in the gallery below:
When these factors are combined, more powerful – and, crucially, more power efficient – hardware is needed for miners to make a profit.
The resulting 'arms race' is clear to see from these pictures: barely dry cement, giant racks of hardware and a mounting pile of empty cardboard boxes sat in a warehouse that took just fifteen days to construct.
Here, at least, these aggressive tactics appear to be paying off. With an output of several petahashes, staff estimate that the centre accounts for around 5% of the entire bitcoin network's mining power.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.