What is the SHA256 mining algorithm?

SHA256, or SHA256d (because SHA256 is applied doubly) is the first mining algorithm to be ever used, utilized by Satoshi in his creation of Bitcoin. As it is used to mine Bitcoin, it is the most revenue generating algorithm and has the most history behind it. SHA256 belongs to a family of cryptographic hash functions called SHA2 and was published by the National Security Agency in 2001. Satoshi presumably chose it as it was the newest standard and a significant improvement over the then more frequently used SHA1. In 2010, on bitcointalk.org, he explained: “SHA-256 is very strong. It’s not like the incremental step from MD5 to SHA1. It can last several decades unless there’s some massive breakthrough attack.”

Along with Bitcoin, SHA256 has been used to mine a wide variety of Bitcoin clones and altcoins, many of which have long been abandoned. Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin SV (BSV), and Digibyte (in Digibyte, SHA256 is one algo in a multi-algo POW system) are currently the most commonly mined coins aside from Bitcoin.

SHA256 can be mined using a diverse selection of custom ASIC machines, the most prevalent being Bitmain’s Antminer series. Other competitors with SHA256 machines at the time of this writing include MicroBT, Ebang, Innosilicon, and Canaan. The time when you could mine Bitcoin at home with your desktop computer are long gone; most miners are now operating professionally in low energy cost environments using hundreds of these ASIC machines.

Newer models of SHA256 miners (generally made after 2017), are capable of mining more efficiently using a technique called ASICBoost. ASICBoost requires a new set of messages between the mining pool and the ASIC. Pools for low volume altcoins and unmaintained pools may not support ASICBoost mining. When purchasing hashing power from our hash market, it is important to verify your pool’s ASICBoost support as a portion of our miners are capable of using it.