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In other words, it is 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. In other words, the chance of a computer producing a hash below the goal is 1 in 7,184,404,942,701 less than 1 in seven trillion. That level is adjusted every 2016 cubes, or roughly every two weeks, with the goal of keeping rates of mining constant.

The reverse is also correct. If computational power is taken from the network, the difficulty adjusts downward to earn mining easier. .

"Say I tell three friends that I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100, and that I write that number on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. My friends don't need to guess the exact number, they just must be the very first person to guess any number that is less than or equal to this number I'm thinking of.

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"Let's say I am thinking of the number 19. If Friend A guesses 21they shed because 21>19. If Friend B guesses 16 and Friend C supposes 12, then they've both theoretically arrived at workable answers, because 16<19 and 12<19. There's no'extra credit' for Friend B, even though B's answer was closer to the goal answer of 19. .

"Now imagine that I present the'guess what number I am thinking of' question, but I am not asking just 3 friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 and 100. Instead, I'm asking millions of prospective miners and I am thinking of a 64-digit hexadecimal number. Now you see that it is going to be quite hard to guess the ideal answer." .

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If 1 in 7 trillion doesn't sound hard enough as is, here is the catch to the catch. Not only do bitcoin miners have to come up with the right hash, they also must be the very first to perform it.

Since bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the right answer before another miner has almost everything to do with how fast your computer can produce hashes. Only a decade ago, bitcoin miners can be performed competitively on normal desktops. As time passes, however, miners recognized that pictures cards commonly used for video games were more capable of mining than desktops and graphics processing units (GPU) came to dominate the game.

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

Nowadays, bitcoin mining is so aggressive it can only be done profitably with all the most 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 exactly what miners call"mining pools." .

An mining pool is a group of miners that combine their computing ability 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 the huge network of users verifying transactions, one block of transactions is verified roughly every 10 minutes. However, its important to keep in mind that 10 minutes is a goal, not a guideline.

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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 web link 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 about how do it. In the time of writing, there are two major solutions to the scaling problem, either (1) to decrease the amount of data needed to confirm each block or (2) to increase the number of transactions that every block can save.

Solution 2 would deal with scaling by allowing for more information to be processed each 10 minutes. .

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

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

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