The last two mining difficulty changes on the Bitcoin network have driven difficulty to an all-time high, causing a decrease in hashrate and block interval speed. Before the latest difficulty retarget increase of 4.68%, block intervals were faster than the 10-minute average, at approximately 8 minutes 54 seconds to 9 minutes 31 seconds. However, since the change, block times have slowed, with statistics showing durations of 10 minutes 44 seconds to 10 minutes 36 seconds.
Slower-Than-Average Block Intervals May Lead to Decrease in Bitcoin Mining Difficulty
The next mining difficulty change is slated for Feb. 12, 2023. At the time of writing, metrics indicate the difficulty could drop as low as 5.6% below the current rate. The decline in estimated mining difficulty for Bitcoin is due to slower-than-average block intervals. Prior to the last two difficulty increases, block times were faster, leading to the increases. Currently, data shows that block times have slowed since the last difficulty change, with times ranging from 10 minutes 44 seconds to 10 minutes 36 seconds.
Bitcoin’s hashrate has been below average, with an average of 279 exahash per second (EH/s) over the past 2,016 blocks. As of 11:30 a.m. ET on Feb. 4, 2023, statistics show the hashrate at 258 EH/s. On Feb. 1, 2023, the total hashrate dropped to 217 EH/s after reaching a peak of 279 EH/s the previous day. The hashrate then increased, reaching 309 EH/s on Feb. 2, before declining 16.50% to its current level of 258 EH/s.
As of Saturday, the top Bitcoin mining pool is Foundry USA, with 90.61 exahash per second (EH/s) or 33.4% of the total hashrate. Foundry is followed by Antpool (18.14%), F2pool (14.08%), Binance Pool (13.13%), and Viabtc (9.07%). Thirteen known Bitcoin mining pools are contributing hashrate to the blockchain, while unknown miners, known as stealth miners, control 1.67% of the hashrate, or 4.53 EH/s. If the slowdown in block intervals results in a difficulty decrease eight days from now, miners will receive a two-week reprieve from the all-time high difficulty.
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What impact will the decrease in Bitcoin’s mining difficulty have on the cryptocurrency’s overall network and hashrate? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Jamie Redman is the News Lead at Bitcoin.com News and a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open-source code, and decentralized applications. Since September 2015, Redman has written more than 6,000 articles for Bitcoin.com News about the disruptive protocols emerging today.
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