The first Bitcoin block, called the genesis block, was mined in January 2009 and was placed in the blockchain (its public ledger). The process of mining began ever since with a default design that scales up the difficultly level as more and more Bitcoins are mined. In order to combat the mining challenge, more advanced computer hardware and complementary software have been developed.
While the hardware used by miners is broadly of three types: CPU/GPU (Graphical Processing Units), FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) and ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuits), the choice for the software is broader. Here’s a list of some of the popular Bitcoin mining software (in no specific order). (See: What is Bitcoin Mining?)
CGMiner is among the popular Bitcoin mining software compatible with GPU/FPGA/ASIC hardware. It is open source software written in C, based on the original framework of CPU miner. It’s a cross platform for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. Some features include advanced detection of new blocks, monitoring, overclocking, fan speed control, binary loading of kernels, multiple mining device support along with remote interface capabilities. The software can scale up to any size of hashrate without delays and is good for solo as well as pooled mining.
BitMinter has been around since 2011 and works well for Windows, Linux and Mac. It claims to provide a decent mining speed, high payout and has OpenCL (Open Computing Language) framework. It aims to make it easy for everyone to get Bitcoins. The client needs to get himself registered with the mining pool after which the software can be used; thus it is a mining pool and software (same name), this is where it differs from the other options available.
It’s an open source mining software which can support multiple FPGA boards (in hundreds and is limited by the number of USB host controllers). It helps in stale reduction by use of long polling and block monitoring, it has a power save mode and even overheat protection. Its system automatically chooses the frequency with the highest rate of hashes based on error measurement. BTCMiner does not require Xilinx software or license to start as it’s a ready-to-use Bitstream which is one of its advantages.
4) 50 Miner
50 Miner is an easy to set up software with an automatic detection device. It supports mining of Bitcoin as well as Litecoin. It is a graphic interface and works on an automated mode where only the login and passwords are needed, it requires no installation. It has many built-in widgets and all settings are stored in the configuration file.
DiabloMiner is GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) software that uses OpenCL framework which can support unlimited pools and even switch to another pool in case of connectivity failure (and returning every hour to the first one). DiabloMiner supports both, solo and pool mining and is compatible with Nvidia drivers and up-to-date ATI Stream SDK. The setting is cumbersome like most of the software.
BFGMiner is ASIC/FPGA mining software written in C, it can hash on both scrypt and SHA256d work simultaneously. It further allows multiple virtual currencies mining at the same time by making use of pool strategy. The program provides remote interface capability (accessing from any location), it also features fan speed control, overclocking and monitoring.
7) Bitcoin Plus
Bitcoin Plus is nor a software but a browser Bitcoin miner and thus requires no installation. It makes use of the spare computer power but works out less cost efficient over time especially if you are serious about mining. On the positive side, it’s a good way to try out mining especially for those who aren’t sure about it and saves them from the process of software installation.
There are other software’s like Phoenix, poclbm, Remote Miner, RPC Miner, Bit Moose, etc.
Miners can work independently which gives them irregular but usually larger payouts or can choose to work in a pool where rewards are more averaged but regular, the final results for both work out similar. The time devoted, choice of software, computer hardware, knowledge quotient, all together decide the success rate at mining. The best software is that which caters to the need; concurs with the hardware and other requirements like multiple cryptocurrency mining, etc. (See: The 5 Most Important Virtual Currencies Other Than Bitcoin)