Bitcoin users can now run a full node on the network for as little as USD 35, thanks to the latest, most powerful model of the Raspberry Pi single-board computer.
Released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, this tiny computer has been a mainstay with Bitcoin enthusiasts ever since the first version was produced back in 2012, barely two years after the Bitcoin network first went live. It continues to be supported by advocates who believe that the Bitcoin network should be as decentralized as possible, by having as many nodes as possible distributed across the globe.
With Raspberry Pi giving that ability at an extremely low cost, it still means that full node operation still has a low barrier of entry for users.
Full node operators can verify their own transactions over the network without having to rely on intermediaries or wallets and other third party services. However, they do not perform the complex calculations that miners do, so do not get to help confirm new transactions and include them into new blocks, thus do not earn new Bitcoin from block rewards.
They do still make invaluable contributions, however, by hosting and transmitting updated copies of the distributed transaction ledger.
Doing so allows users to verify their own transactions over the bitcoin network independently without having to trust third-party wallet services.
Today, almost every fourth full node is based in the US, although Germany is now catching up. Still, the two countries both form over 40% of full nodes and is a practical challenge in terms of distribution and decentralization.
The current version of Raspberry Pi is its fourth and is apparently a significant upgrade, supporting an extra 500mA of current to give it a full 1.2A for downstream USB devices. Its new operating system also allows for Gigabit Ethernet speed and support for updated applications such as Chromium 74 web browser.
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