Crypto user modifies old school Game Boy for Bitcoin mining

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An IT security researcher has been able to adapt Nintendo’s first major handheld game console to mine cryptocurrency.

According to a recent YouTube video, user Stacksmashing used the hardware from a Nintendo Game Boy first released in 1989 as a starting point to mine Bitcoin (BTC). Because the gaming console has no built-in wireless capabilities — and largely predates the internet — the YouTuber said he used a Raspberry Pi microcontroller board attached to the Game Boy’s link port and a USB flash card to establish a connection to a BTC node run from his computer.

Screenshot from YouTube

“My goal was to use an original, unmodified Game Boy,” said Stacksmashing. “I want to plug in a cartridge, and start mining.”

Stacksmashing wrote his own mining code for the Game Boy’s read-only memory, integrated mining software — modified for the gaming console — and ran a BTC node on his computer. The result was nonces getting incremented on the console’s green screen, showing the rig was attempting to mine crypto.

“The hash rate is pretty impressive, roughly 0.8 hashes per second,” said Stacksmashing, explaining: 

“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. At this rate, it should only take us a couple of quadrillion years to mine a Bitcoin.”

Screenshot from YouTube

Many crypto enthusiasts have been looking to gaming consoles as a way to mine BTC or other cryptocurrencies for some time, but in general the systems are neither designed nor marketed towards miners. Earlier this month, a Chinese software developer seemed to have pranked the crypto space by claiming to have mined Ether (ETH) using a PlayStation 5. Last year, developers from 1st Playable denied rumors one of its games could be used to hijack Nintendo’s Switch console to mine BTC.

Stacksmashing’s attempts to use an 8-bit gaming console to mine crypto may have been just for the experience, but he has said on Twitter he’s not finished yet. Already the IT security researcher claims to have used Nintendo’s Super Game Boy — an adapter released in 1994 that allows original Game Boy games to be played on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System — to mine BTC in much the same way.

“Obviously, mining Bitcoin on a Game Boy is everything but profitable, but I learned a lot of things while building this, and definitely had a ton of fun.”