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In 2009, it was 50. In 2013, it had been 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 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 have to occur. First, they must confirm 1 megabyte (MB) worth of transactions, which can theoretically be as small as 1 transaction but are 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 solve a complex computational science difficulty, also called a"proof of work" What they are doing is trying to come up with a 64-digit hexadecimal number, called a"hash," that is less than or equivalent to the 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. That is, the chance of a pc producing a hash beneath the target 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 opposite is also correct. If computational power has been taken off of the network, the difficulty adjusts downward to earn mining simpler. .

"Say I tell three friends that I'm thinking of 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 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 us say I am thinking about the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21they lose because 21>19. If Friend B guesses 16 and Friend C guesses 12, then they've both technically came at workable 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 pose the'imagine what number I am thinking of' question, however I'm not asking only 3 friends, and I am not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Instead, I am asking millions Continue 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 right answer." .

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

Since 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. Just a decade ago, bitcoin miners can be performed competitively on normal desktops. Over time, however, miners realized 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 using all the most up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or elderly models of ASICs, the cost of energy consumption actually surpasses 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" .

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

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Between 1 in 7 trillion odds, scaling difficulty levels, and also 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 each 10 minutes. As the network of bitcoin consumers 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.