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In 2009, it had been 50. In 2013, it was 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 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 for bitcoin miners to really earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things have to occur. To begin with, they need to confirm 1 megabyte (MB) value of transactions, which can technically be as small as 1 transaction but are far more often several 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 fix a complex computational science difficulty, also referred to as a"proof of labour ." What they're 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 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 computer producing a hash below the goal is just 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in seven trillion. That level is corrected 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 true. If computational power is taken off of this network, the problem adjusts downward to make mining easier. .

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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 piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. My friends don't have to guess the exact number, they just have to be the first person to guess 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 21they shed because 21>19. If Friend B supposes 16 and Friend C supposes 12, then they have both technically came at viable answers, since 16<19 and 12<19. There's no'extra credit' for Friend B, even though B's answer was nearer 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 just three friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Rather, I am asking millions of would-be miners and I am important site thinking about a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it is going to be quite difficult to guess the ideal answer." .

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

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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 create 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 tend to be more effective at mining than desktops and graphics processing units (GPU) came to dominate the game.

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These can run from $500 into 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 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 what what miners call"mining pools" .

An mining pool is a group of miners that combine their computing ability and divide 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% of bitcoin computing power. .

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

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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.

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