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In 2009, it was 50. In 2013, it was 25, in 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 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 costly for miners to make.

Here's the catch. In order to get bitcoin miners to actually earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things have to occur. First, they must verify 1 megabyte (MB) worth 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 shops.

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Second, in order to put in a block of transactions to the blockchain, miners should fix a complex computational science difficulty, also referred to as 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 equivalent to the hash.

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In other words, it is 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 beneath the target is 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in 7 trillion. That level is corrected every 2016 blocks, or about every 2 weeks, with the aim of keeping rates of mining constant.

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The opposite is also true. If computational power is taken from this network, the problem adjusts downward to make mining easier. .

"Say I tell three friends 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 have to guess the specific number, they just must be the first person to guess any number that is less than or equal to this number I am thinking of.

"Let us say I'm 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've 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 goal answer of 19. .

"Now imagine I pose the'imagine what number I'm thinking of' question, but I'm not asking just 3 friends, and I am not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Rather, I am my link 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 quite difficult to guess the ideal answer." .

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

Because bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the right 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 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 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 all the latest up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or older versions of ASICs, the expense of energy consumption actually exceeds the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit available, one pc is rarely 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 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 percent of bitcoin computing power. .

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Between 1 in 7 trillion chances, scaling difficulty levels, and the huge network of consumers verifying transactions, one block of transactions is confirmed roughly every 10 minutes. However, its important to remember 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. Since the network of bitcoin consumers 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.