YouTuber turns Nintendo Game Boy into Bitcoin mining rig
Turns out, even a 30-year-old handheld game console can discover a Bitcoin block...in just a couple of quadrillion years.
Pseudonymous YouTube content creator called “stacksmashing” has managed to turn his Nintendo Game Boy, a handheld game console released over 30 years ago, into a Bitcoin (BTC) mining machine, as demonstrated in a video published yesterday.
According to stacksmashing, after Elon Musk announced that Tesla has begun accepting BTC payments, it became clear that it’s time to “get into the Bitcoin mining game.” However, the YouTuber couldn’t find any decent graphics cards in online stores, prompting him to get creative.
“But then I realized: I have a lot of very high-end gaming hardware just lying around, why not use that for mining Bitcoin?” he noted.
And so a Game Boy became his hardware of choice. For reference, the original, unmodded console that he used has a 4.19 megahertz CPU, accompanied by 8 kilobytes of video memory.
However, the console’s inability to connect to other devices—Bitcoin nodes in this case— became the main obstacle that stood in the way of stacksmashing’s mining aspirations.
“We also need it to announce our block in case we manage to mine one, but the Game Boy doesn’t have Wi-Fi or anything, so how can we get it to communicate with the Bitcoin node?” he asked.
To bypass this limitation, stacksmashing used a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller chip to build an improvised USB adapter and connect the console to his computer.
“Luckily the Game Boy has a link port, which is normally used to perform Pokémon trading and other highly important things, but for mining, we can use it to communicate with a computer,” he noted.
Lastly, he downloaded a full Bitcoin node on his PC, created custom mining firmware for his Game Boy, and modified a mining program, called ntgbtminer, to “outsource” the calculations to the console instead of a computer. And the resulting contraption actually began mining Bitcoin, albeit “slightly” slower than modern systems are capable of.
“The hash rate is pretty impressive—roughy 0.8 hashes per second! If you compare that to a modern ASIC miner, which comes in at around 100 terahashes per second, you can see that we are almost as fast—only off by a factor of roughly 125 trillion,” the YouTuber boasted.
At this rate, it would take only “a couple of quadrillion years” for his Game Boy to discover a new Bitcoin block. On the plus side, it is powered by just four AAA batteries—unlike electricity-hungry specialized mining machines of today.
“Big success!” stacksmashing concluded.