Plotting My First Drive

Let’s start this article off with a disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m doing! But that’s ok!

My first hard drive arrived in the mail today and I just couldn’t wait to get it set up and mining Burstcoin. I’ve been completely obsessed with researching everything I can just to start getting involved. I’ve seen a lot of posts on the forums with people setting up a bunch of 5TB external drives, which seems like a great size (intervals of 5 just work well in my brain), but after searching endlessly on my favorite online source, I found a Seagate 8TB (Amazon) that’s USB 3.0 for $150, which I think is pretty reasonable. I couldn’t find it on NewEgg or other sites and I pretty much live on Amazon for everything from slippers to office supplies to new bumpers and a trailer hitch for my truck. Yes that sounds like a hell of a plug, but it’s true.

I have no idea what I’m doing! But that’s ok!

Alright, back to my story. I had some issues with my Asus laptop and the USB ports. What the heck? Aren’t they all supposed to be USB 3.0? Yep! But apparently (after quite a bit of troubleshooting) they just don’t like to put out enough power to supply a USB 3.0 hard drive. Well that makes sense, doesn’t it? There are some tricks with power management to try, but none of them seemed to do the trick for me. Luckily there’s an extra USB charging port that’s not only 3.0 but it supplies the required power. Plugging the external into that port seemed to do the trick. I now have a new Sabrent 7-Port USB 3.0 Hub (Amazon) and 12-Outlet Power Strip (Amazon) on the way!

Since I’m using QBundle, I decided to use the built in XPlotter instead of mucking about with one of the other’s that are available. I wrote a previous article about setting up QBundle.

In case you’re interested, here are a couple of options:

  • XPlotter – On github.com under /Blagodarenko/XPlotter/ (I’m not linking to it here because it looks like Norton is flagging it as malicious)**
  • Turbo Plotter 9000 – Nice user interface with SSD caching and the ability to check your plots for optimization. It can also do either CPU or GPU plotting (though GPU was pretty slow for me on a GeForce GTX 970M)
    https://blackpawn.com/tp/
  • gpuPlotGenerator – Uses your GPU instead of CPU for plotting. It could be faster to plot un-optimized plots using this, and then optimize them afterward. I haven’t tried this yet.
    https://github.com/bhamon/gpuPlotGenerator

To start off, I did a quick 10GB on my secondary internal drive. Not too bad! Though I didn’t know anything about pools, or actually mining.. or anything.. yet.

The next day…

For another quick test, I used XPlotter to plot out 100GB. Starting around 10:00, it ended after about an hour and a half. I was getting around 18,000nonces/min and scoops @ 30MB/s. Definitely a bit slow on the scoops I think. The computer seemed pretty usable throughout, so I’m optimistic about being able to leave it running while also getting some work done.

On to the Seagate! Time for a bigger test! I didn’t want to write the whole thing at once, so the plan is to do it in 2TB chunks. Aaaaand.. start!

Holy crap, getting scoops at ~150MB/s! Awesome!

Wait.. now 20MB/s

Now 15MB/s?

Now 5MB/s

Uuuuuuugh.

What was I possibly doing wrong?? I spent some serious time after this looking into what I could possibly upgrade in order to make this process faster. Some people mentioned it would take up to a week with this drive? It looks like after that initial burst of speed, the hard drive’s cache was full and it settled in to what would be it’s final speed.

As it turns out, while the Seagate is fairly inexpensive, it uses a technology called Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) which makes the plotting process take about 10x as long as other drives. Oh man.

Options to speed things up:

  • Upgrade the laptop internal SSD to 2TB so I can plot 1TB (the rest for OS) and then transfer that to the external drive: My laptop utilizes NVMe SSD.. which is insanely expensive!! A 2TB drive would be almost $1,700! Not gonna happen.
  • Upgrade my SATA III internal drive: Still pretty expensive. $500 for a 2TB drive (I’d need at last 1TB for work files), or $1,400 for a 4TB internal upgrade. Not gonna happen.
  • Faster external drive and copy from THAT to the Seagate: This also seems like it would be pretty slow. Someone on a forum mentioned it took 16 hours to plot a faster 8TB drive, then copy it over @100/MBps for another 22 hours? Is that right? Still seems super slow. I’ll have to do my own tests.

 

When my 2TB was done, it was 84 hours later…
Now just 6TB more to go!

To be continued…

** Because programmers have abused mining software by implanting their own mining in the background, many miner programs now get a false positive for trojans in some antivirus programs. If you’re worried, grab one with the source code and compile it yourself after a review. That’s out of the scope of this article, but I have a new write up with creepMiner coming soon where I compile it down for a 32-bit ODROID-XU4.

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