Bitcoin Mining Power Hits New High as Half a Million New ASICs Go Online

Wolfie Zhao
Sep 16, 2019 at 04:00 UTC
Updated Oct 9, 2019 at 19:13 UTC
feature

The computing power dedicated to mining bitcoin has hit yet another new high, suggesting that more than 600,000 powerful new machines may have come online in the last three months.

According to data from crypto mining pool BTC.com, bitcoin’s two-week average hash rate has crossed another major threshold, reaching 85 exahashes per second (EH/s) around 19:00 UTC last Friday. Meanwhile, mining difficulty also adjusted to a new record of nearly 12 trillion.

Notably, both figures have jumped 60 percent since June 14, the data shows.

Bitcoin’s mining difficulty – a measure of how hard it is to create a block of transactions – adjusts after 2,016 blocks, or roughly every two weeks. This is to ensure the time to produce a block remains around 10 minutes, even as the amount of hashing power, deployed by machines around the globe competing to win freshly minted bitcoins, fluctuates.

Several new models of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners hit the market over the summer, with an average hashing power around 55 tera hashes per second (TH/s).

Assuming all of the 35 EH/s of new hashing power added since mid-June came from these top-of-the-line models, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that more than half a million such machines have connected to the bitcoin network. (1 EH/s =1 million TH/s)

Billion-dollar business?

These powerful ASIC miners, made by major manufacturers such as Bitmain, Canaan, InnoSilicon and MicroBT, are priced from $1,500 to $2,500 each. So if more than half a million of them were delivered, as estimated above, the leading miner makers could have made $1 billion in revenue over the past three months.

Bitcoin’s spiking hash rate and difficulty are in line with the soaring price since earlier this year, which led to increasing demand for mining equipment that has significantly outstripped supply. It’s also in part thanks to the rainy summer season in southwestern China which resulted in cheap, abundant hydroelectric power.

Further, there has also been a growing interest in Russia’s Eastern Siberia region, where the Brastsk hydropower station built in the Cold War era has been utilized to power mining farms that are estimated to account for almost 10 percent of the total computing power on the bitcoin network.

Miners in China estimated earlier this year that bitcoin’s average hash rate in the summer would break the level of 70 EH/s, which happened in August.

As such, major miner manufacturers have already sold out equipment that is due for shipment until the end of the year with customers placing pre-orders three months in advance.

TokenInsight, a startup that focuses on analysis of crypto trading and mining activities, said in a report published Friday that additional supplies of miners are expected to hit the market in the coming months.

“Following the drastic increase in bitcoin’s price, the bitcoin mining market saw significant inflation in Q2 2019. Most of the miners from various manufacturers were in serious shortage and pre-orders submitted in Q2 and Q3 are to be delivered by the end of the year,” the report states.

Therefore, the firm estimates mining difficulty will maintain its growth momentum to reach 15 trillion by the end of the year – with bitcoin’s average total hashing power crossing the threshold of 100 EH/s for the first time in its history.

Bitcoin mining facility image courtesy of Bcause

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.