Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Nears All-Time High in Final Adjustment Before Halving

Bitcoin mining difficulty increased to 16.10 trillion (T) on Tuesday, close to the network’s all-time high of 16.55T recorded in March.

AccessTimeIconMay 5, 2020 at 4:39 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:36 a.m. UTC

Bitcoin mining difficulty – a measure of how hard it is to compete for block rewards – has neared an all-time high in the network’s last adjustment before the halving happens in roughly seven days.

The world’s largest blockchain network by market capitalization just adjusted its mining difficulty to 16.10 trillion (T) at 4:05 UTC on Tuesday, close to the network’s all-time high of 16.55T recorded in March.

Tuesday’s upward surge follows the second-largest decline in the network’s history in late March.

Today’s adjustment, which is the second time mining difficulty has topped the 16T threshold, is also the final rate change before bitcoin’s halving – one of the most anticipated events in 2020.

Following the halving, which will reduce newly mined bitcoin in a day from 1,800 to 900 units, it is expected that the computing power connected to the Bitcoin network will subsequently drop.

Bitcoin’s mining difficulty is designed to adjust itself every 2016 blocks, or about two weeks, based on the competition in each adjustment cycle. 

If there are more people participating in the game, the difficulty will go up in the next adjustment. If there’s less computing power, the difficulty will drop.

The difficulty adjustment follows a somewhat unusual bounty of bitcoin blocks mined late last week, when miners recorded 16 blocks in roughly an hour. As CoinDesk reported at the time, such rapid block production could have been a sign of the current difficulty level being too low.

According to data from the mining pool PoolIn, the average hashing power connected to the Bitcoin network over the last seven days has jumped to over 119 exahashes per second (EH/s), with the last three-day average at an event higher point around 125 EH/s. 

Meanwhile, the average computing power over the past two weeks is at 115 EH/s, just 1.4% higher than the previous cycle.

That would suggest the strong increase of the network’s computing power over the past week has helped the mining difficulty to post a growth, which would otherwise record a negative adjustment.

The computing power growth over the last week follows bitcoin’s price jump from $7,500 to around $9,000 in two days starting on April 29. The price rebound proved to be a savior for older mining rigs.

Following bitcoin’s dramatic sell-off on March 12, the network’s difficulty and hashing power both posted a 16% decline. As bitcoin’s price rebounded after March 12, the mining competition has generally gone up again.


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