The Best Storage for Chia Farming: Building the optimal storage farm

The Best Storage for Chia Farming: Building the optimal storage farm

Chia is a relatively new cryptocurrency that’s taken the world by storm (enough so to cause storage shortages in China) and it isn’t even tradeable yet. In other words, it’s a very young cryptocurrency with a seemingly high potential for appreciation.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chia, check out our guide to farming Chia, which covers a lot of common questions in addition to walking you through the process of setting up your PC for mining. Before we discuss what the best storage for Chia mining is, it’s important to understand the basics of the farming process.

How does Chia farming work?

In Chia mining, there are two basic functions, which we’ll cover below:

Plotting

Plotting is the first step of the Chia farming process. During Plotting, you create a .PLOT file on a storage drive. The bigger the .PLOT file, the higher percentage of the total storage you make up and the higher your chances of acquiring Chia.

Basically, plot size is similar to a hashrate in other forms of crypto mining, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The more, the merrier.

Within the plotting process, there are two directories (or storage locations):

  • The Temporary Directory is where storage is temporarily used in order to write the .PLOT file. Once the .PLOT file is written, the temporary storage drive’s space is freed up and you can use it to write more .PLOT files.
  • The Final Directory is the final destination for the .PLOT file. Plots are permanent until deleted; this means that once you create a plot it will stay there and be farmed indefinitely.

The temporary and final directory can be on the same storage drive. For example, if you only have one drive you can still farm Chia. It’s not the most efficient way to do it, but you can use the drive as both the temporary and final directory.

Essentially, the temporary directory can be reused indefinitely to plot to as many desired final directories as possible. You could, in theory, create thousands of gigabytes worth of Chia plots across multiple hard drives using the same SSD as your temporary directory (as long as it doesn’t wear out).

Plotting and farming Chia
Plotting and Farming

Farming

Farming is the process by which you actually earn Chia. Once you’ve created at least one plot, it will automatically begin to be farmed. Farming is far less resource-intensive than plotting, since it doesn’t use a significant amount of RAM.

What’s the best farming model?

When creating a Chia farm, you’ll ideally have at least one high-speed NVMe drive for plotting and one or more hard drives to store the .PLOT files.

This works because the NVMe can create the .PLOT file much more quickly than a hard drive, since its read/write speeds will be significantly faster than any hard drive (or even SATA SSD). In our experience, it takes several days with a hard drive to plot a file than an NVMe could handle in several hours.

On the other hand, the end goal of Chia farming (at least, if you want to turn a profit) is to have the largest amount of storage space in .PLOT files possible. Since drive speed doesn’t matter once the plots are created, hard drives are by far the best storage solution.

The most cost-efficient hard drives offer storage at a cost of less than 2 cents per gigabyte. That’s pretty incredible!

How to maximize plotting efficiency (understanding NAND flash types)

When selecting a temporary storage drive for plotting, it’s incredibly important to understand the impact of NAND memory type on a drive’s performance.

Almost all consumer drives available right now are either TLC (triple-level cell) or QLC (quad-level cell) NAND. The “triple” and “quad” refer to how many bits of data are stored in a single NAND memory cell (which you can think of as the most basic unit of storage in a drive).

In addition to TLC and QLC, there also exists two other major flash types: SLC and MLC. These are “single-level cell” and “multi-level cell” (one bit and two bits per cell, respectively).

This may seem a bit complicated but hang in there, because this information is essential to ensuring maximum plotting efficiency.

NAND cell densities, illustrated | Courtesy of Anandtech

The more bits stored per cell, the more affordable the storage can be. This is why TLC and QLC are the most popular; manufacturers can create higher-capacity drives for less money.

The downside to these cheaper drives is that they much slower write speeds in general (this results from storing more bits per cell).

Manufacturers use a method called SLC caching, which basically uses free storage space to simulate single-level cells. This enables QLC drives to achieve the write speeds of an SLC drive, but of course this is only possible when a good bit of storage is free. Every drive has a set SLC cache size and once the cache is full, the drive begins writing at TLC/QLC speeds.

The important takeaway is that TLC or QLC drives will be effective for plotting, but only if your plot doesn’t exceed the SLC cache size.

With this in mind, the most efficient plotting method for non-enterprise drives is to create large numbers of K32 plots (these are the ones that require 239 GiB of temporary storage). With even a 1TB SSD, you’ll leave a large portion of your storage full, ensuring your TLC or QLC drive can maintain the fastest possible write speeds.

If you’re wondering why we recommend K32 and not the much-smaller K25, it’s because K32 is the minimum allowed size for mainnet, as per Chia Blockchain.

The Best NVME (Temporary Drive) for Chia Farming

One last facet of plotting that needs to be considered is that the temporary drive requires more storage space than the final .PLOT file takes up. If that’s confusing, for example:

If you want to create a K32 plot (and it’s highly recommended that you stick exclusively to K32s), it will take up 101.4GiB in the final directory, but you’ll need 239 GiB of free space on your temporary drive.

If you want to plot several K32s in parallel you’ll need that much more temporary storage. For six parallel K32s you need at least 239 x 4 = 1434 GiB (that’s about 1540 GB).

With this in mind, you probably want to get a temporary drive that can create as many plots in parallel as your RAM and CPU can support. If you don’t have a system built yet and don’t know where to start, you can check out farming system recommendations.

If you already have a farming rig, the easiest way to figure this out is to divide your RAM by 4 and your CPU thread count by two. This derives from the fact that you need approximately 4GB of RAM and 2 CPU threads per parallel plot.

For instance, say you have a Core i5-11400 and 32GB of RAM. If you didn’t know, you could look up the 11400’s thread count and easily find out it has 12 threads.

We divide this number by two (the number of threads per plot), which gives us six. Likewise with the RAM, we take 32/4, which gives us eight. So our maximum simultaneous plotting capacity is six K32s.

Once you’ve determined your maximum plotting capacity as determined by your CPU and RAM, just select a temporary drive that can handle that number of parallel plots. In the above example the max was six, so we’d want an NVMe that can handle six K32s.

That’s pretty easy to calculate. Just multiply the amount of temporary space required for a K32 by six. That gives us 239 GiB x 6 = 1434 GiB. Converted to standard GB, that’s around 1540, so you’ll need a 2TB drive for this task.

If you have over 16GB of RAM or an i5/Ryzen 5 processor and above, we definitely recommend a 2TB NVMe. You’ll be able to plot much more efficiently when doing it in parallel with six or more at a time.

Best storage for chia
All plot sizes currently available in Chia Blockchain

The Best NVMe Drive for Large-Scale Chia Plotting: WD Gold 4TB | Check Price

Every storage drive falls into one of two major categories: consumer or enterprise-grade. Consumer drives offer more than enough performance for the vast majority of users, and cost a lot less than their enterprise counterparts.

Enterprise drives are useful because they offer much higher sustained writing speeds than consumer drives. For example, a consumer SSD rated for max write speeds of 3000 MB/s will probably write at around 500 MB/s when writing for long periods of time. It can’t sustain its maximum read speed for long.

On the other hand, an enterprise SSD with the same max write speed could write at 1000 or 1500 MB/s, and could sustain those speeds indefinitely.

These numbers are just examples to illustrate a point: enterprise drives write much faster over the long-term.

If you’re running a pretty sizeable farming operation, you should probably opt for one of these enterprise drives, like the WD Gold. You’ll be able to create plots much more quickly with it.

Additionally, enterprise drives are rated for much higher TBW, which basically means they have a higher endurance. They’ll be able to write more terabytes of data before they kick the bucket. Durability shouldn’t really be an issue, since even consumer drives frequently have a durability rating of over 1500 TBW.

We selected the WD Gold because it’s one of the best, if not the best, enterprise-grade drives on the market. We chose the 4GB version because it allows for plotting up to 15 K32s in parallel, enabling maximum plotting efficiency.

The Best 2TB NVMe for Chia Plotting: Inland Platinum | Check Price

Inland’s Platinum SSDs have really fast write speeds (3400/3000 MB/s), and they’re extremely cost-efficient. QLC NAND means the Inland Platinum has slower sustained write speeds (around 600MB/s), which is why they’re a good bit cheaper.

If you’re willing to spend a bit more money, consider Kingston’s KC2000 and the Addlink S70. These are great all-around NVMes in both the 1 and 2TB capacities.

The Best 1TB NVMe for Chia Plotting: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro | Check Price

The ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro can sustain write speeds of well over 1000 MB/s, which is about as good as it gets in terms of consumer drives. It also boasts maximum read/write speeds of 3500/3000 MB/s respectively, which is about as fast as you’re going to get with PCIe gen 3.

Some alternatives with similar pricing and performance include Kingston’s KC2000 and the Addlink S70. Both of these will slow down to around 1000MB/s on long writes, which is more or less a synonym for Chia plotting.

The Best Hard Drive (Final Drive) for Chia Farming

There is really only one quality that is needed in the optimal Chia-farming final drive. This is high storage capacity at a cheap price.

If you’re farming on an absolutely massive scale, you may want to buy the highest-capacity hard drives possible so as to take up as little space as possible.

In any other scenario, you’re probably best off buying the storage that costs the least amount per unit.

The Best High-Capacity Hard Drive (Final Drive) for Chia Farming: Seagate Exos X18 18TB | Check Price

This is the biggest drive you’ll be able to find, and is pretty cheap on a per-gigabyte basis. As mentioned earlier, if you’re trying to fit the maximum amount of storage into a confined space, this 18TB drive may be the one for you.

The Best Cost-Efficient Hard Drive (Final Drive) for Chia Farming: Seagate BarraCuda 8TB | Check Price

Seagate makes cheap storage, and it’s of reputable quality. What more needs to be said? The 8TB model is the cheapest storage known to man — it comes in at a whopping 1.8 cents per gigabyte.

Conclusion:

Regardless of what tact you take, good luck with your farming. We’ll be covering the latest news regarding Chia as things like pooling become available.

If you’re looking to build a computer with the intent to farm Chia, feel free to check out our PC building beginner’s guide as well. It covers the entire process from start to finish, step by step. Anyway, thanks for reading!

Art of PC is reader-supported. If you buy through our affiliate links we may earn a commission, but it doesn’t cost you anything. We promise not to recommend a product we don’t completely endorse and stand behind. Thanks for your support!

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. Sharif Tabani

    What Happens When Final Destination Drive Gets Full? Should We Add Another Drive For Farming And Let The Existing One Keeps On Farming?

    1. Barry Gates

      Yes. Once you’ve maxed out the storage on one drive, you have to add another drive if you want to keep adding farming space.

      1. Peter Urbina

        Also does that mean my fully famed hard drives cannot be reused to farm again. I did not see anything in the business white paper that addressed this or might have completely missed it. Essentially I’m asking if our hard drives are useless to farm with again once they are full of plots and farmed.

        1. Barry Gates

          No, you can use farms indefinitely once they’re plotted. Farming is not a one time thing, it’s an ongoing process. Basically, your plot has a lot of values stored, and the challenge checks if your plot has the closest value to it. So there’s never a point when your plot has been farmed and is done, it’s always ongoing.

  2. nxitimi

    Hi,

    i want to now if it make sens to use Ryzen with 32 Threads ans 2 X (M.2. 8TB as temporary= 1 For temporary Farming and 1 For Plot-Transfer M.2. to Final Directory) , because i would like to start 13 ~ 15 Plots in Parallel.

    Do you things in this form im effizient??

    1. Barry Gates

      You’ll need 64GB of RAM to plot that many in parallel (4GB per plot), just something to keep in mind. I’m not sure I entirely follow, do you intend on using two separate 8TB NVMes as temp drives at the same time?

  3. Stan the Manj

    Hi Barry,
    Very good article. I`ve got a fast question: so with 16GB of RAM I can do 4 plots in parallel at the same time. So I can have around 120 101.4GiB farming plots with 14TB. so the best idea would be to add 2TB NVMe to max the plot creation, correct? what I mean having 4 parallel with, lets say 85 minutes gap between them and then add 1 plot in a queue. I`m completely new if it comes to mining/farming.

    1. Barry Gates

      Thanks!

      A k32 plot will take up approximately 257 GB, so four would take up 1028 GB. In other words 1028GB is the max temporary space you’re going to use plotting k32’s as long as you’re limited to 4 plots by your RAM.

      So you’re right, a 2TB NVMe would be your best bet for fastest plotting if you want to maximize efficiency. Good luck!

  4. TODD HAYWARD

    What is the optimal way to format the disks (allocation units)?

    1. Barry Gates

      Set them up as a one-partion Simple Volume in Windows Settings.

      To do this just search “create and format hard disk partitions” and create the new volume there.

      1. Niko Alviky

        I love this Article, please give me advice for formating the harddisk. GPT or MBR, or other advice maybe? My HDD is seagate. thank you so much Mr Barry

        1. Barry Gates

          GPT is technically a little better, so I’d go with that. Just create a simple volume with the entire space of the disk, that’s the best way to allocate storage.

  5. Jacob H

    Thank you Barry a lot for this article, I wanted to ask what is the difference of plotting k32s or k33s? and with a 32thread processor 64RAM and 3X 2Tb NVme, how many would you recommend to plot in parallel? I have 70Tb extra hard drive capacity. Also which Operating system you recommend to use? Thanks again for this article!

    1. Barry Gates

      K33s are twice as large so they take a lot longer to plot. K32s are considered standard, I’d recommend sticking with those.

      As for parallel plotting, it’s hard for me to say since I don’t know how fast your drives are. I’d try between 10 and 16 in parallel.

      Alternatively, a more advanced technique that will take some trial and error and a lot of management is starting a smaller number of parallel plots (5 or 6), waiting until they get to 32% (that’s the end of phase 1 and thus multithreading), and then start more plotting. If you can figure out how long it takes your plots to get to 32%, you can then set a delay and keep it cycling. This allows you to have a lot of plots going simultaneously, doing it in waves like that.

      So in short it will take some experimentation to see what’s fastest while still getting a lot done at a time. If the delayed plotting sounds overwhelming you’ll still get a lot done just plotting 10+ at the same time, and you’ll get a better feel for it as you do it.

      As for OS, use what you like. I believe I read somewhere that Windows was a tad slower than Mac or Linux (5% or so) but I don’t know that there’s any hard evidence for that claim.

      Anyway, I appreciate the positive feedback. Good luck with your farming, sounds like you’ve got a really good rig going and a lot of storage to fill. I’d love to hear about it if you win any XCH before pooling.

      1. Freshmen

        Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge! What are the stages of plotting and how many? You mentioned 32% when multi CPU cores stop as end of Phase 1). What are the other Phases? Is these a Phase when DDR memory use drops?

        Can I maximize my CPU and when it hits end of Phase 1 – add more plots to generate?

        Thanks a lot!

        1. Barry Gates

          From Chia’s official website:
          “The first phase generates all of your proofs of space by creating seven tables of cryptographic hashes and saving them to your temporary directory. Phase 2 back-propagates through the hashes, phase 3 sorts and algorithmically compress these hashes in the temporary directory while starting to build the final file and phase 4 completes the file and moves it into your final plot destination.”

          I’m not sure off of the top of my head which phase is most RAM-intensive, but I do know that threads, not RAM, are almost always the limiting factor. I’d worry more so about thread count.

          In answer to your second question, the best way to achieve maximum efficiency is to determine how long it takes for your your plots to get out of phase 1. Once you have this down, you can begin setting a timed delay for your plots so that they’ll begin plotting soon after the prior round of K32s reaches Phase 2. So, for example, say you have 12 threads. You could begin plotting three K32s in parallel utilizing 4 threads each (this is for max speed, alternatively you could do 4 plots with 3 threads each, your call). Once these three plots reach 32%, they’ll be using only a thread apiece. So instead of 12 threads being utilized, your plotting is now only using 3 threads (1 thread times 3 plots).

          So now you have 9 free threads. You can begin a fresh round of plots (3 K32s using 3 threads each would be ideal). Once those get to Phase 2 you can begin another round, and so on, with however many threads you have free. Once you can figure out the repeating pattern, you can begin setting this on a delay and it will take a bit less micro-managing.

          Sorry if that was a bit overly-complicated, I hope that helps.

  6. Jacob H

    Thanks a lot for this reply Barry very useful, I will let you know if I find any. On another note watching the exponential Netspace growth until when do you recommend its profitable to mine?

    Thank you

    1. Barry Gates

      I honestly don’t know the answer to that. It will be profitable to keep farming with your current rig for a very long time since electricity costs are lower with Chia farming. At some point, though, the market will get to a place where it’s not profitable to buy more drives. Not sure when that will be, but you’ll notice your profits decreasing as network size increases.

  7. Mike Urquhart

    Is there any benefit/advantage, using 2x2Tb NvMe drives to plot, so if I could plot 6 in parallel, based on my ram, CPU threads, would it be any quicker to have three plotting on the one NvMe drive and the other 3 on the 2nd NvMe drive at the same time, or could I in theory plot 6 on each at the same time.

    1. Barry Gates

      Yes, you could do six on each. There wouldn’t be any significant advantage to plotting only three on each, to my knowledge.

  8. laink

    GOOD TUTORIAL, THANKS, IN MY CASE I HAVE 4 OLD PCS I5 ¨3¨ AND SIMILAR WITH 16GB AND SSD. I CREATE ABOUT 3 PLOTS PER PC PER DAY, THE INVESTMENT IS MINIMUM, ONLY STORAGE DISK AND SSD, MY QUESTION IS HOW CAN I MAKE ALL THE PLOTS, FARM AS A SINGLE FARM?

    1. Barry Gates

      As long as you used the same private key to login, they’ll all be farming to the same wallet.

  9. dR-mR

    Hi
    how much ram is used for farming?
    I have 32gb ram on the pc, can i use it to plot 8 farms on the NvMe and at the same time farm other farms on the hdd? Or i need 4gb of ram for each far to plot and 4gb for each farm to farm after ploting?

    1. Barry Gates

      No RAM is used for farming, only plotting. So to answer your question, yes. You can plot 8 K32s in parallel and farm all plots simultaneously.

  10. Roger B

    Interesting. Barry, do you have an idea what the appx profit per day (or any time period) could be? Example—my existing hardware: 3 tb of PCI 4.0 NVME’s in one PC….. 2 tb of PCI 3.0 NVMe drives in another, and up to 60 tb of HDD space. Each PC has 32 gb of memory, and Ryzen 7 and 9 cpu’s…..

    1. Barry Gates

      It’s impossible to calculate profit, the netspace is growing too quickly so calculating based on today’s netspace would be inaccurate come tomorrow.

      Until pooling comes out it’s super luck-based anyway. You’re either going to win 2 blocks (a little less than $2000, I believe) or you’re going to win nothing.

      Once pooling arrives and netspace hits the top of the S curve, calculating daily profit will be a lot more feasible.

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