After hearing about ThreeFold a little over a week ago, I’ve gotten really excited about the project in general and the opportunity to participate as a farmer. I took the plunge and ordered some hardware to set up my first node, which I’ll post more about as the pieces come together.
In the meantime, I am making this post to share some of what I’ve learned through reading pretty much all of the information I could find on farming. I am calling this a “FAQ” because I’ve seen some of these questions asked by others and imagine there are more potential farmers wondering the same things. Most of these answers are incomplete, and I’d love input from those around here who know more than me so I can update the answers accordingly.
1. What do I need to become a ThreeFold Farmer?
Any computer with an Intel or AMD processor and network connectivity can be used for farming. If you are shopping for hardware, new or used machines no older than four years are recommended. Certain hardware is eligible to be certified and certification provides benefits like additional farming rewards.
2. How much will I earn as a farmer?
Farming rewards are calculated based on the amount of compute and storage capacity that a farm’s nodes make available to the Threefold Grid. When that capacity is rented, farmers also receive cultivation income.
Currently, the full details of farming reward calculations are not easy to find. It is possible to check the rewards paid to existing farmers in past months as a point of reference, using the ThreeFold Grid Explorer and a tool to inspect the Stellar ledger, but this method is fairly involved. The ThreeFold Foundation has announced that they will release minting reports on previously farmed tokens at some point.
For the best information on potential return on investment, see the simulator scenarios provided in the wiki. Another point of reference is available from the Mazraa ThreeFold farming cooperative, who are advertising at least 100 TFTs per month farming income for their LightNode.
3. What kind of return on investment can I expect when purchasing farming hardware?
This depends on a number of factors, including the hardware specs, purchase price, electricity and internet costs, the value of earned TFTs when they are sold or spent, and changes in farming and cultivation rewards due to grid growth and utilization level. Simulations based on potential growth and valuation of the grid and price of the token can provide estimates for various conditions over a five year investment period. More details on the simulations used to generate ROI estimations can be found here.
4. How much bandwidth and data capacity do I need?
Basic node configurations should run well on a standard 25 Mb/s home or office connection. A direct fiber connection is recommended for any farm hosting 30TB of storage or more. Of course, this depends on the needs of other devices sharing the network and the actual utilization of any customers renting space on your nodes.
5. What if my node goes offline due to a hardware failure or a network outage?
Farmers only receive TFT for farming if they maintain 99% uptime per month, which corresponds to no more than 7.2 hours of downtime in a given month.
6. What is the optimal configuration for a ThreeFold node?
At least one solid state disk is recommended per node, and adequate RAM is needed to fully utilize available CPU cores. Per the compute unit calculations shown here, an 8:1 ratio of RAM to logical CPU cores nearly maximizes compute units for a given CPU. For example, a computer with 4 physical hyperthreaded cores has 8 logical cores, which means the maximum compute units for that CPU is 16 (cru * 2). With 64 gigabytes of RAM the expression (mru - 1) / 4 equals 15.75. Since compute units are the minimum of these two values, it is 15.75 in this case. If only 32 gigabytes of RAM are installed, (mru - 1) / 4 = 7.75 and CU also equals 7.75.
Elsewhere, we see examples where two logical cores and four gigabytes of RAM are rented as a standard unit, and also statements that four gigabytes of RAM for each logical CPU core is optimum. This discrepancy may be explained by the fact that Zero OS occupies some RAM and memory upgrades typically happen in powers of two. That is, an ideal amount of RAM for 8 logical cores may be 33 or 34 gigabytes, but available configurations are 32 or 64 gigabytes.
7. How soon can I start selling the tokens I’ve earned?
Currently, all farming rewards are paid in TFTA tokens. These are the original ThreeFold tokens, which will be converted to the new TFT token at the end of 2020. Certified farmers will begin earning TFT once they are certified. TFT tokens can be sold on the BTC-Alpha and Liquid exchanges, as well as the Stellar Decentralized Exchange. TFTA can also be sold on Stellar DEX, though the trading price is currently below the market rate for TFT. Farmers should consider planning to hold all TFTA earned until it becomes TFT.