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In 2009, it was 50. In 2013, it had been 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 speed of halving, the total number of bitcoin in circulation will approach a limit of 21 million, making the currency more scarce and valuable over time but also more expensive for miners to produce.

Here's the catch. In order for bitcoin miners to really earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things have to happen. First, they must confirm 1 megabyte (MB) worth of transactions, which can theoretically be as little as 1 transaction but are more often a few thousand, depending on how much data each transaction shops.

Second, in order to add 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're actually doing is trying to think of a 64-digit hexadecimal number, called a"hash," that's less than or equal to the target hash.

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. In other words, the chance of a computer producing a hash beneath the target is 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in seven trillion. That level is corrected every 2016 cubes, 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 difficulty adjusts downward to earn mining simpler. .

"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 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's 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 supposes 12, then they have 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 closer to the target answer of 19. .

"Now imagine that I pose the'guess what number I'm thinking of' question, but I am not asking only three friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Rather, I'm asking millions of would-be miners and I'm thinking of a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it's going to be quite 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 have to think of the right hash, but they also have to be the first to perform it.

Because bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the ideal answer before another miner has everything to do with how fast your computer can create hashes. Only a decade ago, bitcoin miners can be carried out competitively on normal desktop computers. Over time, however, miners recognized that graphics cards commonly utilized 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 into the tens of thousands. .

Today, bitcoin mining is so competitive it can only be done profitably using the latest up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or elderly models of ASICs, the cost of additional resources energy consumption actually surpasses the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit at your disposal, one pc is rarely enough to compete with exactly 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 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 the massive network of users verifying transactions, one block of transactions is confirmed roughly every 10 minutes. But 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 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.