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In 2009it had been 50. In 2013, it had been 25, at the time of writing it's 12.5, and sometime in the middle of 2020 it will halve to 6.25. .
At this speed of halving, the total number of bitcoin in circulation will approach a limit of 21 million, making the currency more scarce and valuable over time but also more costly for miners to make.
Here's the catch. In order to get bitcoin miners to really earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things have to occur. First, they need to verify 1 megabyte (MB) worth of transactions, which can technically be as small as 1 transaction but are more often a few thousand, depending on how much information each transaction stores.
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Second, in order to add a block of transactions to the blockchain, miners must solve a complex computational science difficulty, also called a"proof of labour " What they are actually doing is trying to come up with a 64-digit hexadecimal number, called a"hash," that is less than or equal to the target hash.
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In other words, it's a bet. .
The difficulty level of the most recent block at the time of writing is about 7,184,404,942,701. That is, the chance of a pc producing a hash beneath the goal is 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in seven trillion. That level is adjusted every 2016 blocks, or roughly every 2 weeks, with the aim of keeping rates of mining constant.
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The reverse is also correct. If computational power is taken off of the network, the difficulty adjusts downward to make mining easier. .
"Let us say I am thinking about the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21, they lose because 21>19. If Friend B supposes 16 and Friend C guesses 12, then they have both technically came at viable answers, since 16<19 and 12<19. There is no'extra credit' for Friend B, even though B's answer was closer to the target answer of 19. .
"Now imagine that I present the'guess what number I am thinking of' question, but I am not asking only three friends, and I am not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Instead, I'm asking millions of would-be miners and I am thinking about a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it's going to be quite hard to guess the right answer." .
If 1 in 7 trillion doesn't sound difficult enough as is, here's the catch to the grab. Not only do bitcoin miners have to think of the right hash, but they also have to be the very first to do it.
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These can run from $500 into the tens of thousands. .
Today, bitcoin mining is so competitive it can only be done profitably using all the latest up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or elderly versions of ASICs, the cost of energy consumption actually surpasses the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit at your disposal, one computer is seldom enough to compete with what what miners call"mining pools" .
An mining pool is a group of miners who combine their computing power and split the mined bitcoin between participants. A disproportionately high number of blocks are mined by pools rather than by individual miners. In July 2017, mining pools and companies represented approximately 80% to 90% of bitcoin computing power. .
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Between 1 in 7 trillion odds, scaling difficulty levels, and also the huge network of consumers verifying transactions, one block of transactions is verified roughly every 10 minutes. But its important to remember that 10 minutes is a target, not a rule.
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The bitcoin network can process about seven transactions per second, with transactions being logged in the blockchain each 10 minutes. As the network of bitcoin users continues to grow, but the number of transactions made in 10 minutes will eventually exceed the number of transactions that can be processed in 10 minutes.