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My question relates to the current Ethereum proof-of-work chain.

I am just wondering if one needs specialized Ethereum software to mine ether. Or maybe you can just connect to a pool that runs the software for you.

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  • Ethereum proof of work will be turned off in two months, so nobody is going to mine in the future. Commented Jul 30, 2022 at 6:15

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You need a mining software that will compute the proof of work using CPU, GPU, or ASIC devices.

The mining pool is the link between miners and network. It provides miners with blocks to mine, and send the solutions to other ethereum nodes.

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