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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. That is, the chance of a computer 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 about every 2 weeks, with the goal of keeping rates of mining constant.

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

"Say I tell three friends that I'm thinking about 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 need to guess the exact number, they just have to be the first person to figure any number that's less than or equal to this number I am thinking of.

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"Let us say I'm thinking about the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21they shed because 21>19. If Friend B guesses 16 and Friend C guesses 12, then they've both theoretically arrived at workable 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 present the'guess what number I am thinking of' question, however I am not asking only three friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Instead, I'm asking millions of would-be miners and I'm thinking of a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it is going to be quite hard to guess the right answer." .

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

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

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

Nowadays, bitcoin mining is so aggressive that 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 energy consumption actually surpasses the revenue generated. Even with the newest unit available, 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 page computing power and split the mined bitcoin between participants. A disproportionately high 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. .

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. But 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 every 10 minutes. As the network of bitcoin users continues to grow, however, the number of transactions made in 10 minutes will eventually exceed the number of transactions that can be processed in 10 minutes.

This dilemma at the center of the bitcoin protocol is known as scaling. Even though bitcoin miners generally agree that something has to be done in order to address scaling, there is less consensus regarding how can it. In next page the time of writing, there are two big solutions to this scaling problem, either (1) to decrease the amount of data needed to verify each block or (2) to increase the number of transactions that every block can save.

Solution 2 will deal with scaling by allowing for more information to be processed every 10 click reference minutes. .

In July 2017, bitcoin miners and mining companies representing roughly 80% to 90% of the networks computing electricity required to incorporate a program that would decrease the amount of data needed to verify each block. In other words, they went with Solution 1.

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

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