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In 2009it was 50. In 2013, it had been 25, at 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 entire 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 for bitcoin miners to really earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things must happen. First, they need to confirm 1 megabyte (MB) value of transactions, which can technically be as little as 1 transaction but are far 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 should solve a intricate computational math problem, also referred to as a"proof of work." What they're doing is trying to think of 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 gamble. .

The difficulty level of the most recent block at the time of writing is about 7,184,404,942,701. In other words, the chance of a pc producing a hash below the target is 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in 7 trillion. That level is adjusted every 2016 cubes, or roughly every two weeks, with the aim of keeping rates of mining constant.

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The reverse is also true. If computational power is taken from this network, the difficulty adjusts downward to make mining simpler. .

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

"Let's 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 supposes 12, then they have both theoretically arrived at workable answers, because 16<19 and 12<19. There is no'extra credit' for Friend B, even though B's answer was nearer to the target answer of 19. .

"Now imagine that I pose the'imagine what number I am thinking of' question, however I am not asking only three friends, and I'm not thinking of a number i thought about this between 1 and 100. Rather, I'm asking millions of would-be miners and I am thinking of a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it is going to be extremely hard to guess the ideal answer." .

If 1 in seven trillion doesn't sound hard enough as is, here's the catch to the grab. Not only do bitcoin miners have to come up with the ideal hash, they also have to be the very first to perform it.

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Because bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the right answer before another miner has everything to do with how fast your computer can produce hashes. Only a decade ago, bitcoin miners could be performed competitively on normal desktops. Over time, however, miners realized that graphics cards commonly used for video games tend to be 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. .

Nowadays, bitcoin mining is so aggressive it can only be done profitably with the latest up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or elderly models of ASICs, the cost of energy consumption actually exceeds the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit at your disposal, one computer is seldom enough to compete with exactly 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 large number of cubes 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 chances, scaling difficulty levels, and also the massive network of users verifying transactions, one block of transactions is verified roughly every 10 minutes. But its important to keep in mind 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 every 10 minutes. Since the network of bitcoin users continues to grow, however, 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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