Bitcoin mining difficulty has surged to a new all-time high, reaching 75.50T at block height 828,576 on Feb. 2, less than a month after its previous record-setting increase on Jan. 6.
Mining difficulty saw a significant increase of 7.33%, the highest this year, marking the most difficult period to mine Bitcoin in its history. This milestone highlights the growing challenges and computational demands faced by miners in the Bitcoin network as the next halving looms.
Halving on the horizon
The recent adjustment in mining difficulty is part of the network’s regular mechanism to maintain a consistent block discovery time of approximately 10 minutes. This latest increase reflects a notable shift from the previous adjustment on Jan. 20, 2024, which saw a 3.90% decrease in difficulty.
The Bitcoin network undergoes difficulty adjustments roughly every two weeks, adapting to changes in the network’s computational power to ensure stable and secure block discovery. With the difficulty now at 75.50 trillion, the criteria for mining a valid Bitcoin block have become more stringent, requiring increased computational effort and resources from miners.
This increase in difficulty comes as the Bitcoin community anticipates the fourth halving event, expected to occur in less than 11,500 blocks. The halving will reduce the reward for mining a new block from 6.25 to 3.125 bitcoins, further escalating the competition among miners for diminishing rewards.
Despite the rise in difficulty, the collective hash rate of the Bitcoin network is maintaining strength with an average of 536 exahash per second (EH/s) over a seven-day simple moving average — close to the all-time high of 566 EH/s reached on Jan. 29, 2024.
Mining power within the Bitcoin network is concentrated among a few major pools, with Foundry USA and Antpool collectively controlling over 60% of the total hashrate. Foundry USA is currently the leader, contributing 31.94% to the network’s computational power, followed by Antpool.
The next mining difficulty adjustment is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2024. The mining community will closely watch this adjustment as it navigates the increased difficulty and prepares for the impending halving event, both poised to impact the economics of Bitcoin mining significantly.
The record-high mining difficulty highlights the competitive nature of Bitcoin mining and the continuous growth and resilience of the Bitcoin network. As miners adjust their operations to the new difficulty level, the broader implications for the cryptocurrency market and network security will continue to be a point of focus for stakeholders.