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

At this rate of halving, the total number of bitcoin in circulation will approach a limit of 21 million, making the currency more scarce and precious over time but also more expensive for miners to make.

Here is the catch. In order to get bitcoin miners to actually earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things have to occur. First, they must confirm 1 megabyte (MB) worth of transactions, which can technically be as small as 1 transaction but are far more often a few thousand, depending on how much data each transaction shops.

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Second, in order to put in a block of transactions to the blockchain, miners must solve a complex computational math problem, also called a"proof of work" What they are actually doing is trying to think of a 64-digit hexadecimal number, known as a"hash," that is less than or equal to the target hash.

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In other words, it is a gamble. .

The difficulty level of the most recent block at the time of writing is all about 7,184,404,942,701. In other words, the chance of a pc producing a hash beneath the target 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 2 weeks, with the aim of keeping rates of mining constant.

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The reverse is also true. If computational power has been taken off of the network, the difficulty adjusts downward to make mining easier. .

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

"Let us say I'm thinking of the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21they lose because 21>19. If Friend see post B supposes 16 and Friend C guesses 12, then they've both technically came at workable answers, because 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 I present the'guess what number I'm thinking of' question, but I am not asking only three friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Rather, I'm asking millions of prospective miners and I am thinking of a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it is going to be extremely difficult to guess the right answer." .

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

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Because bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the ideal answer before another miner has everything to do with how fast your computer can produce hashes. Just a decade ago, bitcoin miners can be performed competitively on normal desktops. Over time, however, miners recognized that pictures cards commonly used for video games were more effective at mining than desktops and graphics processing units (GPU) came to dominate the match.

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

Today, bitcoin mining is so competitive 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 at your disposal, one pc is seldom enough to compete with exactly what miners call"mining pools." .

A mining pool is a group of miners that combine their computing ability and divide the mined bitcoin between participants. A disproportionately high number of cubes are mined by pools rather than by individual miners. In July 2017, mining pools and companies represented roughly 80% to 90% of bitcoin computing power. .

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Between 1 in 7 trillion chances, scaling difficulty levels, and the massive network of users verifying transactions, one block of transactions is confirmed roughly every 10 minutes. But its important to remember that 10 minutes is a target, not a guideline.

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

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