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In 2009, it had been 50. In 2013, it had been 25, at the time of writing it is 12.5, and sometime in the center of 2020 it will halve to 6.25. .

At this rate of halving, the entire 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 produce.

Here's the catch. In order to get bitcoin miners to actually earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things must happen. To begin with, they need to verify 1 megabyte (MB) value of transactions, which can theoretically be as little as 1 transaction but are far more often several thousand, depending on how much information each transaction shops.

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Second, in order to add a block of transactions to the blockchain, miners must solve a complex computational math problem, also called a"proof of work" What they're actually doing is trying to think of a 64-digit hexadecimal number, known as a"hash," that is less than or equivalent 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 all about 7,184,404,942,701. That is, the chance of a computer producing a hash below the goal is just 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in 7 trillion. That level is adjusted every 2016 cubes, or about every two weeks, with the aim of keeping rates of mining constant.

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The opposite is also true. If computational power has been taken off of this network, the problem adjusts downward to earn mining simpler. .

"Say I tell three friends that I'm thinking about a number between 1 and 100, and that I write that number on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. My friends don't need to guess the exact number, they simply have to be the very first person to guess any number that's less than or equal to the number I'm thinking of.

"Let us say I am thinking of the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21they shed because 21>19. If Friend B supposes 16 and Friend C supposes 12, then they have both theoretically arrived at workable answers, since 16<19 and 12<19. There's no'extra credit' for Friend B, even though B's answer was nearer to the goal answer of 19. .

"Now imagine that I present the'guess what number I am thinking of' question, but I am not asking just 3 friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 this contact form and 100. Instead, I'm asking millions of prospective miners and I'm thinking about a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it is going to be extremely difficult to guess the right answer." .

If 1 in 7 trillion doesn't sound hard enough as is, here's the catch to the grab. Not only do bitcoin miners have to think of the ideal hash, they also must be the very first to do it.

Because bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the ideal answer before another miner has almost everything to do with how fast your computer can produce hashes. Only a decade ago, bitcoin miners could be carried out competitively on normal desktop computers. As time passes, however, miners realized that pictures cards commonly used for video games were more capable of mining than desktops and graphics processing units (GPU) came to dominate the game.

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These can run from $500 to the tens of thousands. .

Today, bitcoin mining is so aggressive that it can only be done profitably with the most up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or older versions of ASICs, the cost of energy consumption actually exceeds the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit available, one computer is seldom enough to compete with what what miners call"mining pools" .

An mining pool is a group of miners that combine their computing ability 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 roughly 80% to 90 percent of bitcoin computing power. .

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Between 1 in 7 trillion odds, scaling difficulty levels, and also the massive network of consumers verifying transactions, one block of transactions is verified roughly every 10 minutes. But its important to keep in mind that 10 minutes is a goal, not a rule.

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The bitcoin network can process about seven transactions per second, with transactions being logged in the blockchain every 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 which can be processed in 10 minutes.