A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Kent’s School of Computing in the United Kingdom shows that the implementation of quantum miners for blockchain would yield massive energy savings. By comparing energy consumption rates for current ASIC-based miners to proposed quantum-based solutions, the study discovered that quantum computing systems outperformed standard mining rigs in terms of energy efficiency.
According to the research paper, transitioning to quantum-based mining could result in energy savings of about 126.7 TWH, roughly equivalent to the total energy consumption of Sweden in 2020. This is especially significant considering that Bitcoin mining operations alone consumed more than 150 terawatt hours annually as of May 2022.
The study compared three different quantum mining systems to an Antminer S19 XP ASIC miner. Notably, blockchain mining is one of the few areas of quantum computing where error correction is not a major concern. In most quantum functions, errors create noise which limit a computing system’s ability to produce accurate computations. However, in the case of blockchain mining, success rates with state-of-the-art classical systems are still relatively low. The researchers also note that, unlike classical systems, quantum-based systems can actually be fine-tuned over time for increased accuracy and efficiency.
While quantum computing technology is still considered to be in its infancy, the specific problem of blockchain mining does not require a full-service quantum computing solution. As the researchers put it, “a quantum miner is not, and need not be, a scalable, universal quantum computer. A quantum miner need only perform a single task.”
However, despite the potential energy savings, it is important to note that the researchers focused on a type of quantum computing system called a “noisy intermediate-scale quantum” (NISQ) system. Typically, NISQ systems only operate with about 50-100 qubits (quantum bits), but the energy savings begin to become significant at a size of around 512 qubits. The costs of building and maintaining a quantum computing system in the 512 qubit range have, in the past, been prohibitive for most organizations, leaving this solution still out of reach for now.
In conclusion, the researchers believe it should be possible to build miners using existing quantum technologies that demonstrate quantum advantage over classical computers. This finding highlights the potential for further development in the field of quantum computing to revolutionize and improve the efficiency of blockchain mining operations.