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In 2009, it had been 50. In 2013, it was 25, in 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 for bitcoin miners to actually earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things must happen. To begin with, they need to verify 1 megabyte (MB) worth of transactions, which can technically be as little as 1 transaction but are 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 solve a complex computational math problem, also called a"proof of work" What they're doing is trying to come up with a 64-digit hexadecimal number, called a"hash," that's less than or equivalent 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 about 7,184,404,942,701. That is, the chance of a computer producing a hash beneath the goal is just 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in 7 trillion. That level is corrected every 2016 cubes, or roughly every two weeks, with the goal of keeping rates of mining constant.

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

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"Say I tell three friends that 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 need to guess the exact number, they simply must be the very first person to guess any number that's less than or equal to the 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 guesses 16 and Friend C guesses 12, then they've both technically came 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'guess what number I'm thinking of' question, however I'm not asking just 3 friends, and I am not thinking of their explanation a number between 1 and 100. Rather, I am asking millions of prospective miners and I'm thinking about a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it's going to be extremely hard to guess the ideal answer." .

If 1 in 7 trillion doesn't sound hard enough as is, here's the grab to the grab. Not only do bitcoin miners need to think of the right hash, they also must be the first to do 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 produce hashes. Just a decade ago, bitcoin miners could be performed competitively on normal desktop computers. As time passes, however, miners realized that pictures cards commonly used for video games tend to be more capable of mining than desktops and graphics processing units (GPU) came to dominate the match.

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

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

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

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Between 1 in 7 trillion odds, scaling difficulty levels, and also the huge network of consumers verifying transactions, one block of transactions is confirmed roughly every 10 minutes. But its important to keep in mind 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 each 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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