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Samsung Made a Bitcoin Mining Rig Out of Old Galaxy S5s (vice.com)
69 points by rayascott 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 38 comments

The rig is not the important part of this article. What is extremely cool is Samsung supporting upcycling initiatives and going as far as having approved ways of unlocking and replacing the OS in the devices with stuff such as Ubuntu Core and others.

This could be huge! I believe a better title would be something related to the upcycling project.

Agreed. I think we all have a few phones stashed away. This makes them immediately useful. I would love for this trend to continue in more companies. So much working hardware is tossed away needlessly.

It's also smart for Samsung. It encourages a secondary market for their old phones, increasing prices, and nudging their customers to "turn over" to a newer phone with the higher resell value.

This made me excited to see as well. Here's some more information for others that may be interested.


Skip to 9 minutes for a more fluent english speaker that I found much easier to follow. He mentions wiping Android, installing some base OS and using Docker at 12:25 in the video.

The website http://upcycling.io/

This is a great idea from Samsung. A phone has everything needed to become a useful IoT device.

But how would I connect sensors and other things to the phone?


Postmarket OS seems very useful. Would be great if Samsung provides resources to this already existing project instead of starting their own. For example Samsung could help port more Samsung devices to Post market OS and help with drivers (for example, looking at supported devices, I see audio is missing).

It looks like the Samsung rig is doing about 2600Kh/second at about 4W per phone. This is a hash rate of 1538.46 J/GH.

In comparison, the Antminer S9 will do 13Th/sec for about 1275W. This gives a hash rate of 0.098 J/GH.

In essence, an actual bitcoin miner is about 15,000 times more efficient. I'm all for recycling, but this is not an effective solution.

Why not release the documentation for the displays for use in other products, or release technical documentation for other parts of the board? This would be a much better step in recycling instead of building an anemic space heater with bitcoin.

I don't think the point was for other people to recreate a bitcoin miner - no one will have 4+ S5s laying around to use anyway. It's just to show that they still have some computation power that can be used.

But the post you are replying to is showing that they literally can't be used for this.

I think they quite literally can be used that way. Practically? No.

They can mine bitcoin. They can't be used for mining bitcoin. It proves nothing whatsoever about the utility of old S5s, any more than this[1] shows that old 60s mainframes "still have some power that can be used".

[1] http://www.righto.com/2015/05/bitcoin-mining-on-55-year-old-...

What does that prove then? That they can do computations?

The Galaxy S5 came with a Snapdragon 801, the same I have in my Oneplus One and it's plenty fast to this day.

It runs current Android (Lineage) and I haven't yet even thought about upgrading my phone. I only had to change the battery recently as last through a day anymore, but now there is not much more to desire.

This is super cool! I was just thinking about what all you could use old phones for, and they could easily replace a lot of existing devices.

Like Nest thermostats and cameras - there's no reason those devices couldn't be replaced by old phones running custom software, instead of buying purpose built hardware that costs $150+. My old iPhone4 is just as capable hardware-wise as a nest cam - so why can't I turn it into that?

Amazon Echo Show - that could just be an old phone docked to a speaker base.

Smart Light Switches - phone on the wall.

Dedicated alarm clock - old phone on the night stand.

Host device for chromecasts or AppleTV? Old phones have more than enough power, they just need an HDMI output adapter.

Lots of possibilities, especially with something like their bitcoin rig that ties a bunch of devices together for more horsepower.

I know I've used old phones as baby monitors, wifi cameras, Roku and soundbar remote controls, alarm clocks, and streaming video clients. And all that was just using regular Android versions. But I could imagine using an old phone as a wireless print server, or something. That would be pretty cool.

Samsung phones especially are great as a universal remote with their IR blasters.

I think more importantly they make for great private home servers for the distributed web so we can get away from centralized web services.

I can't imagine such a rig could effectively mine any coins. As a proof of concept it's cute but its actual utility seems dubious.

I think you are missing the forest through the trees. The point is that there is significant computational power inside your old smartphone, which could be used for many different things. The bitcoin mining is simply illustrating this and showing how it is more computationally efficient than a desktop/labtop.

I was thinking the same thing. The lack of details on mining speed tends to support that as well. It just looks like they built a technically interesting toy and used "bitcoin" as a way to get it some attention.

Is the author conflating "cryptocurrency" with "Bitcoin?" These devices' CPUs might be able to mine Monero, but definitely will not be able to mine Bitcoin without losing money on power.

I don't think Samsung is worried about how much money they'll make from it, rather that is's a cool engineering project.

Not sure anyone is conflating ability to mine, with ability to profitably mine.

I don't think making money was the goal of this project, more that they wanted proof of concept to show off.

A manufacturer could make it easy for everyone if the day after the warranty expired a pop-up gave you the option to carry on using your device with whatever updates happen, install stock Android or install stock Ubuntu. They could even charge extended warranty or for updates to their version of an operating system so long as the option was there to use your device the FOSS way.

Old phones could become the standard device replacing things like the Raspberry Pi if it was that easy to switch them over to post-warranty FOSS mode. Even better would be if this upcycling was a requirement, so out of warranty devices could default to being a compute device with well defined interfaces to cameras and sensors. The EU could pass laws to enforce 'upcycling' standards so all electronics is not waste but has at least some usable compute capability even if thermally inefficient or with latency issues.

ARMv8 includes optional AES extensions and Monero already has code for it.

One thing manufacturers could do to reduce waste would be to make phones less locked in the first place.

"Old" Galaxy S5s.... and I'm still using my G3

Just because someone is still using it doesn't mean it's not old. It's three versions behind current, so that seems to fit the definition.

Yeah, I'd never use firefox 54. Blasphemy.

Assuming you meant GS3... If you do anything with mobile data, you'll find 4G/LTE a big improvement over 3G or 4G Wimax. 4G/LTE came in with the S5 (but not all S5s have the right hardware). One of my S5s is 4G/LTE upgradeable, and the other wasn't.

I have an old GS3 that I use for privacy-suck apps (I have no data left on it).

I'm in Canada, when I'm using data it says LTE on my (yes) GS3. Haven't really paid attention to the cell tech since CDMA was a thing though so couldn't tell you if that's legit LTE or just marketing.

Wikipedia says that some markets had LTE support on the GS3. Looks like specific models of that phone are covered, in Canada and the US, for example.

I have a few old android phones laying around.

I have two app idea:

write motion activated camera app that stores motion activated pictures on google drive - special folder. Only me and my family have access to that google drive folder. Files will be deleted from that folder after N days.

   --- Turn your old phones to security camera.APP

Or another app can do time lapse pictures convert to movie where I can mounted on car's dash board and turn 1-2 hours trip into 10-20 seconds clip.

What do you guys think? Good, bad, there is an app for that already?

Any other idea?

I believe there are already apps for that.

I really don't see the point of this. The mining power is so low it wouldn't even be worth the cost to operate. Samsung should focus on updating ALL of their current devices with OS and security updates rather than replacing them with another OS and not updating the drivers or firmware when they get bored of it. Their flagship devices are still not on a monthly security patch cadence and they treat their low and mid range phones as if they don't even exist.

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