Extrapolating the guessing game to crypto mining, imagine that you ask not a few friends to guess a number between 1 and 1,000 but millions of miners to guess a long hexadecimal number that is 64 digits long. Getting the right answer will obviously take a lot of computing power and churning out large volumes of numbers in an attempt to be the first one to arrive at the correct answer.
This is where FPGAs come in.
In order to arrive at the right hash, miners can use CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, or ASICs. CPUs are regular processors, but they are no way fast enough to compete with the high-end hardware used by industrial miners to arrive at the highly valuable hexadecimal hashes that are used to maintain the bitcoin network (though they could potentially be used for mining less power-consuming cryptocurrencies). The same holds true for GPU mining.
FPGA mining, however, provides users with a solution at that, although a little more expensive than the alternatives, is more flexible than CPUs and GPUs. It requires installing special chips in specific sequences and arrays in order to increase your computer’s hash-guessing ability.
FPGAs are designed to consume less power than other integrated circuits, making mining a very profitable venture, especially in countries such as Sweden where electricity prices are lower. In addition to low power consumption, higher levels of customization when compared to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware mean FPGAs can be configured to compute different algorithms specific to different cryptocurrencies, thereby allowing miners to switch from mining one type of currency to mining a different type, depending on profitability ratios, with very little downtime.