A computer security researcher has turned a 32-year-old Nintendo Game Boy console into a cryptocurrency miner.
Stacksmashing, a self-described computer researcher and YouTube content creator, has adapted a 1989 Game Boy — Nintendo’s first major handheld video game — into a Bitcoin miner. A fairly slow, but functional one.
The modified Game Boy can mine Bitcoin at a “pretty impressive” hash rate of about 0.8 hashes per second.
“If you compare it to a modern ASIC miner, going at about 100 terahashes per second, you can see that we are almost as fast, only by a factor of about 125 trillion,” Stacksmashing said.
According to the researcher, it would only take “a couple of quadrillion years to mine a Bitcoin” at that rate.
“He’s without a doubt the slowest miner I’ve ever heard of. But you’ve heard of him!” Stacksmashing bragged on Twitter.
How to turn a Game Boy into a Bitcoin miner
According to the posted video, since the device has no built-in wireless connectivity, Stacksmashing turned to a $ 4 Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller board and a USB flash card. Armed with them, the youtuber connected his Game Boy console to a Bitcoin node on his computer.
The next step was to create a custom mining firmware, as well as modify the code in ntgbtminer, a mining program that Stacksmashing used for the experiment.
However, the challenge is not over due to the difference in voltage requirements between the Raspberry Pi Pico and the Nintendo Game Link cable: the former operates at 3.3 V, while the latter operates at 5 V. To perform the voltage conversion, Stacksmashing implemented a simple four-channel bi-directional logic changer.
Given the speed at which Bitcoin is mined, probably the most concerning part of this hack is how large the pile of discarded batteries would be after a couple of quadrillion years. One more thing to worry about, besides the environmental impact of Bitcoin.