Cryptocurrency mining is one of the most lucrative ways to make money from the market. The activity does require a massive investment, but it has the potential to deliver some truly impressive gains.
However, it is important for you to know the terminologies that rule in mining. One of the key metrics that miners tend to look at is the mining difficulty on the Bitcoin network. Below, we'll offer a deep dive into what the Bitcoin mining difficulty is and why pretty much everyone in the space tries to find out what it is.
A Backstory On Bitcoin Mining
If you have a little knowledge about Bitcoin, you would know the importance of the mining process. This procedure guarantees that there are more Bitcoin tokens released into the market, and transactions can be verified.
Mining is critical for maintaining the validity and security of the Bitcoin network. Mining is a critical part of Bitcoin’s consensus system - the system in which network participants agree and reach a consensus concerning the new data that enters the Bitcoin blockchain. And, the Bitcoin blockchain relies on a decentralized module where anyone can validate new transactions - regardless of where they are.
It might sound simple, but this process isn’t. It requires a computer-intensive effort where prospective validators would have to use their devices to generate codes. Whoever generates the code the fastest will get the mining rewards.
As the network continues to grow, miners are forced to use some energy to discover additional blocks. The idea is that this expansion will dissuade bad actors who might be trying to add invalid transactions to the Bitcoin blockchain. And, the expansion of the network has brought in more miners. So, there’s additional competition for miners, and many have had to get better devices to increase their chances.
In Bitcoin’s earliest days, you could mine the asset with your personal computer. But, miners soon realized that graphics cards were better suited for their operations. So, they evolved to use those. Presently, most miners use application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) - devices built primarily for mining operations.
The Bitcoin Mining Difficulty
As its name suggests, the Bitcoin mining difficulty describes the degree of difficulty involved in mining a new block of transactions on the Bitcoin network.
Since the Bitcoin network is decentralized, no one outrightly controls it. So, the network has an algorithm hard-coded into its source code. This algorithm is responsible for constantly readjusting the difficulty of the mining process according to the number of miners currently on the network.
The mining difficulty algorithm is primarily responsible for ensuring that Bitcoin can be mined at a steady pace. It maintains a 10-minute duration for the discovery of new blocks. This is one of the reasons why it takes about 10 minutes for a block of transactions to be mined on the Bitcoin blockchain.
To maintain its frequency, the Bitcoin mining algorithm adjusts the mining difficulty. So, when the network sees a massive influx of miners, the algorithm increases the difficulty a bit. If miners drop off from the network, the difficulty is reduced once more so that the remaining miners find it much easier to mine blocks.
Why The Mining Difficulty Matters So Much
Without this intricate system in place, there’s a likelihood that more Bitcoins would be mined as more people come into the network with more advanced mining devices.
Imagine in Bitcoin’s earliest days when everyone mined with CPUs. All of a sudden, more people started coming with ASICs. These new miners would have a technical advantage because their devices are superior. But, with the mining difficulty algorithm in place. The Bitcoin network is able to maintain a steady pace of mining.
Thus, mining difficulty ensures that we don’t see new Bitcoins entering into circulation at an unpredictable rate. One thing that gives Bitcoin its value is its steady and almost predictable inflation rate, especially compared with traditional fiat currencies. And, the fact that the asset’s supply is capped at 21 million means that it is truly finite with a scarce capped supply.
Assuming that the demand for Bitcoin continues to grow, its steady inflation rate and capped supply would be critical in supporting its price. The former quality is possible largely thanks to the mining difficulty algorithm.