Chia Plotting and Farming on My 2016 MacBook

If there’s one thing I’m good for, it is the latest Internet sensation.  I started paying with cryptocurrencies several years ago to play the CryptoKitties game, which was based on Ethereum.  Let me tell you, those were some expensive digital cats, and I didn’t bother playing it for very long.

This week, I started farming Chia on my old 2016 MacBook Pro.  Here’s everything I’ve learned along the way and what I’m using for my setup.

In This Guide

download and install Chia.  When you launch it for the first time, it will walk you through setting up your wallet (a must for crypto).  Pay special attention to the 24 word phrase you are given, because that is the only way you can recover your wallet if needed.

Plotting is very straightforward through the GUI.

MacBook chia plotting options

MacBook chia plotting options

Leave the default plot size first of all.  For your first run, leave all of the defaults under step 2 for Choosing Number of Plots.

Step 3, Select Temporary directory should be your EXTERNAL SSD, not your MacBook’s SSD.

Finally, Step 4, Select final directory is your capacity disk.  Be sure you’ve the selected the right disks!

Phases of Chia Plotting

Chia plotting happens in a total of 4 phases, which you can read about here.  I highly recommend reading that guide to better understand how the process works.  The Chia UI has a progress bar to show you how far along you are with your plotting, and based on the % complete, you know what phase you are in:

Phase 1: 1-42% – Computing Tables
Phase 2: 43-61% – Backpropagating Tables
Phase 3: 66-98% – Compressing Tables
Phase 4: 98-100% – Write Checkpoint Tables

When it comes to using the MacBook, phases 1 and 3 take the longest for me.  I’m going to take this into account to try to maximize the plotting potential.

Once your plotting has finished, your plot will begin farming.  You don’t have to do anything, just keep on plotting!

Optimizing Your Chia Plotting

The first step is to plot a single plot of Chia, and figure out how long it takes.  Be sure to also open Activity Monitor on your Mac and see what is going on, and if you are hitting any bottlenecks.  Be sure to close out all other applications to free up as many resources as possible.  My MacBook uses 6GB of RAM just sitting there looking pretty.

This is important to keep an eye on so you understand how resources are used if you choose to plot in parallel later.

When your plot has finished, you can check the logs to see exactly how long each phase of plotting took.

The Chia logs are located in: ~/.chia/mainnet/plotter

Open a terminal and navigate to that directory.  Find the log you want and enter: cat logname | grep “Time” and you can see the amount of time each phase took in seconds.

viewing chia log on Mac

viewing chia log on Mac

I’m a total nerd and made an Excel spreadsheet with notes to see how long everything took, and track the optimizations I’ve made.

At this point, you can start to experiment.

Here are the advanced options for Step 2, Choose number of plots.

MacBook chia plotting advanced options

MacBook chia plotting advanced options

From here, you can begin to plot in parallel, and tweak the settings accordingly to see what the sweet spot is.

Disabling bitfield plotting is for old computers, it doesn’t apply to us here, and we want to make sure to put our plot in the final directory to free up or EXTERNAL SSD space, so ignore both those boxes.

Chia Plotting Results with 2016 MacBook Pro

Now, let’s get into what I’ve been seeing with my setup!

So far I’ve plotted:

  • A single plot (9.1 hours)
  • Two plots in parallel (14.1 and 14.4 hours)
  • Three plots in parallel, with an hour delay between start times (14.49 hours, 15.7 hours, 15.88 hours)
  • Two plots in parallel (increased ram to 4096 MiB) (13.77 hours and 13.94 hours)
  • Single plot, 4 threads, 6750 MiB RAM (7.71 hours)

My next steps to tweak also are the RAM settings and to mess with the delay a bit more.  I’ll be sure to come back and update.

Single Chia Plot – 2016 MacBook Pro

Here’s some data on one of my single plots:

  Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 14203.451 236.724183 3.94540306
Phase 2 7874.169 131.23615 2.18726917
Phase 3 9970.789 166.179817 2.76966361
Phase 4 741.426 12.3571 0.20595167
    TOTAL TIME 9.1082875

Not bad at all!

Parallel Plotting on MacBook – Two Plots

Here’s my data for the two plots I plotted in parallel with default settings

Plot 1 Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 15297.677 254.961283 4.24935472
Phase 2 12296.915 204.948583 3.41580972
Phase 3 15847.149 264.11915 4.40198583
Phase 4 8854.874 147.581233 2.45968722
    TOTAL  TIME 14.5268375
Plot 2 Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 15135.985 252.266417 4.20444028
Phase 2 12166.65 202.7775 3.379625
Phase 3 14042.09 234.034833 3.90058056
Phase 4 9668.497 161.141617 2.68569361
    TOTAL TIME 14.1703394

As you can see, we increased to about 14.5 hours to plot two plots.  This does save us some time if we were plotting on at a time.  I have a funny feeling two plots may be the sweet spot for the MacBook.

Parallel Plotting on MacBook – Three Plots

I started parallel plotting three plots, with an hour delay between each start.  It seems like it was a terrible idea.  

MacBook chia plotting parallel three

MacBook chia plotting parallel three

Now, I have my final data, and it took almost 16 hours, which isn’t as bad as I thought.  Here’s my data:

Plot 1, 3 Parallel, 1 Hour Delay Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 17367 289.45 4.82416667
Phase 2 9829.635 163.82725 2.73045417
Phase 3 23949.25 399.154167 6.65256944
Phase 4 1018.803 16.98005 0.28300083
    TOTAL TIME 14.4901911

The first plot was the quickest of the bunch.

Plot 2, 3 Parallel, 1 Hour Delay Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 22534.014 375.5669 6.25944833
Phase 2 11083.938 184.7323 3.07887167
Phase 3 19615.613 326.926883 5.44878139
Phase 4 3279.091 54.6515167 0.91085861
    TOTAL TIME 15.69796

Then we have number two and three, which were fairly close together.

Plot 3, 3 Parallel, 1 Hour Delay Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 26816.579 446.942983 7.44904972
Phase 2 11297.092 188.284867 3.13808111
Phase 3 18337.058 305.617633 5.09362722
Phase 4 720.324 12.0054 0.20009
    TOTAL TIME 15.8808481

Plot 3 rounds it out.

This actually worked better than I thought after I looked at the data.  I’ve basically added 4 hours to my time to get the third plot.  Of course, I started more plots before I checked the logs :).

Parallel Plotting on MacBook – Two Plots, 4096 MiB RAM

The default for RAM for a plot is 3390 MiB, so I upped it to 4096 MiB, because I didn’t pay attention…I really should have went with 4295 MB.  Oh well, close enough, here’s some data!

Plot 1, Parallel, Two Plots, 4096 MiB RAM Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 15199.351 253.322517 4.22204194
Phase 2 12453.303 207.55505 3.45925083
Phase 3 14120.579 235.342983 3.92238306
Phase 4 7793.76 129.896 2.16493333
    TOTAL TIME 13.7686092

Not that much faster than if I hadn’t increased the RAM.

Plot 2, Parallel, Two Plots, 4096 MiB RAM Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 15305.657 255.094283 4.25157139
Phase 2 12398.889 206.64815 3.44413583
Phase 3 14816.943 246.94905 4.1158175
Phase 4 7690.106 128.168433 2.13614056
    TOTAL TIME 13.9476653

By increasing the RAM a little bit, I shaved an hour off of plotting.

Now compare these to the next single plot I did.

Single Plot, 4 Threads, 6750 MiB RAM

Because why not?  This turned out to be my fastest plot yet, but not *that* much faster.

Single Plot, 4 Threads, 6750 MiB RAM Seconds Minutes Hours
Phase 1 9436.022 157.267033 2.62111722
Phase 2 7704.938 128.415633 2.14026056
Phase 3 9892.831 164.880517 2.74800861
Phase 4 727.886 12.1314333 0.20219056
    TOTAL TIME 7.71157694

That’s actually one of the nice things about Chia as illustrated here. Throwing more resources doesn’t change the outcome too too much, so you really can do a lot with what you already have around the house.

If I compare these to yesterday’s parallel plot, you can see some of the areas I am getting crushed in.  Phase 4 is a huge one since we’re writing to that slow drive.

It seems that delaying the start of plotting by the perfect time is what is going to get us home.

Parallel Plot, Two Plots, Default Settings, Delayed 5 Hours

We’re going to kick off a parallel plot of two with a 5 hour delay, and see what it gets us!

Plotting Maximums on a MacBook Pro

While I’m going to keep playing with things, it seems like the MacBook pro will max out at around 4 plots per 24 hour period.  Stay tuned while I come up with the best options for plotting to maximize your time, because it will absolutely include a delay between starting plots when plotting in parallel.

Are you plotting with a MacBook?  Let me know how it goes!

Posted by Editor