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In other words, it's a gamble. .

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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 pc producing a hash below the target is 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in 7 trillion. That amount is corrected every 2016 blocks, or about every two weeks, with the aim of keeping rates of mining constant.

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

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

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"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 have both theoretically arrived at viable answers, because 16<19 and 12<19. There's 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 am thinking of' question, however I'm not asking just 3 friends, and I am not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Rather, I'm asking millions of prospective miners and I am thinking of a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it's going to be quite difficult to guess the ideal answer." .

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

Since bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the ideal answer before another miner has everything to do with how fast your computer can produce hashes. Just a decade ago, bitcoin miners can be carried out competitively on normal desktop computers. Over time, however, miners recognized that pictures cards commonly used for video games were more capable of mining than desktops and graphics processing units (GPU) came to dominate the game.

These can run from $500 to the tens of thousands. . Recommended Reading

Nowadays, bitcoin mining is so competitive it can only be done profitably with the most up-to-date ASICs. When using desktop computers, GPUs, or older models of ASICs, the expense of energy consumption actually surpasses the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit at your disposal, one pc is seldom enough to compete with what what miners call"mining pools." .

A mining pool is a group of miners that combine their computing power and divide 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 roughly 80% to 90 percent of bitcoin computing power. .

Between 1 in 7 trillion odds, scaling difficulty levels, and also the huge network of users verifying transactions, one block of transactions is verified roughly every 10 minutes. However, its important to remember that 10 minutes is a goal, not a rule.

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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, but the number of transactions made in 10 minutes will eventually exceed the number of transactions which can be processed in 10 minutes.

This issue at the heart of the bitcoin protocol is known as scaling. While bitcoin miners generally agree that something has to be done in order to address scaling, there is less consensus about how do it. At the time of writing, there are two big solutions to this scaling problem, either (1) to lower the amount of information needed to verify each block or (2) to increase the number of transactions that each block can store.

Solution 2 would cope with scaling by allowing for much more information to be processed each 10 minutes. .

In July 2017, bitcoin miners and mining companies representing approximately 80% to 90 percent of their networks computing power required to incorporate a program that would reduce the amount of data needed to verify each block. That is, they went with Solution 1.

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The app that miners voted to increase the bitcoin protocol is known as a segregated witness, or SegWit. This expression is an amalgamation of Segregated, meaning to separate, and Witness, which describes signatures on a bitcoin transaction. Segregated Witness, then, means to separate transaction signatures out of a block and attach them within an extended block.

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