In this part of my LiteCoin series, I talk about the different options for LiteCoin mining hardware.
Note: LiteCoin difficulty changes over time, so the numbers in this post will probably be grossly inaccurate by the time you read this.
One of the things that makes LiteCoin different from Bitcoin is that it uses a different type of Cryptography. Bitcoin uses SHA hases. Litecoin uses Scrypt. Bitcoin's algorithm can be readily adapted to run on special purpose Chips called ASICs. This locks bitcoin hardware into only performing a single function. If Bitcoin evaporated tomorrow, all of those ASICs would be worthless. Litecoin's Algorithm works differently and is difficult to adapt to ASICs. This means that Litecoin mining is within the reach of every PC, not just the people who can drop a couple of thousand dollars on ASICs.
The speed of a Litecoin Miner is measured in Hashes per second. It is possible to mine on most PCs using just the CPU.
Using data from the LiteCoin Mining Hardware Comparison page I can see that the hash rates for CPU mining varies from 0.8 to 130 KH/s. Taking that data and plugging into the LiteCoin Mining Calculator shows that CPU Mining will yield between 0.14 LTC / Year and 0.07 LTC / Day depending on the specific CPU. Since most people don't have a 32 Core Xeon processor in their home PC, it's a safe assumption that you'll mine less than 0.01 LTC per day. Today's LTC price is around $30, so that's $0.30 per day. Nice.
If you want to pursue CPU LTC mining, the application you need is called pooler/cpuminer. It is available from SourceForge.
I don't want to do CPU Mining. I want to make lots of LTC, not a paltry 0.01 per day. I have a couple of ATI Radeon HD 6750 (correction, 6790's) video cards that I used for Bitcoin mining. They are capable of mining at up to 200 KH/s each. That's more like it.
On the same LiteCoin Mining Hardware Comparison page you can see a comparison of many different video cards that are usable for mining. Most of the very high performance cards are sold out from vendors, and fairly pricy on eBay. YMMV.
With the current boom in LTC prices, it may make sense to spend a little money to get a bigger return. I'm doing that. In addition to the two 6790's, I've ordered a number of additional cards. I'll post more about those in a future post on Scaling Up Litecoin mining. For now we'll get these two 6750's making some coins! That's the topic of my next post in this series.