The total processing power of the Bitcoin network has levelled-off in recent months after peaking in late summer.
According to stats published by Blockchain.com, Bitcoin’s Hash Rate – which hit a record high back in August, and has largely held that new level in the time since – has proved incapable of growing further in recent months. Reporting by Diar says the rate is now oscillating between 40-60 million Terra Hashes a second (TH/s). That’s a large range compared to the rest of 2018, and shows some decline from a peak of close to 70m TH/s in late August.
Hash Rate charts the cumulative processing power of the Bitcoin network’s mining machines, essentially putting a number on the amount of guesses being made every second, and is an important stat for any proof of work blockchain. The growth of the computing power underpinning Bitcoin transactions through 2018 has consistently suggested that the bigger mining groups have been happy to throw more computing power into the network, even as prices have declined from their highs of late 2017 and early January.
That keenness could be on the wane a little, though. It would appear that investment is barely keeping up with the amount of smaller miners dropping out of the the market, as profit margins have evaporated and competition from the aforementioned big pools – previously happy to throw their profits into adding more mining rigs to their farms – has grown.
While the so-called ‘difficulty’ of mining a Bitcoin, and thus collecting the reward for doing so, has also moved downwards of late – for only the second time this year – smaller miners will continue to find it hard to sustain their businesses with the price of BTC at around a third of its all-time-high and their chances of gaining block rewards reduced as their share of the total hash power is diminished.
According to the latest stats, BTC.com is largest single miner of bitcoin in terms of computing power, with around 17.5% of the network Hash Rate, BTC.TOP and Antpool are the next two largest concerns with around 11.5% share each. According to Blockchain.com’s numbers, the six largest individual miners control around 60% of the bitcoin network’s hashing power. This cuts to one of the central philosophical concerns regarding the Bitcoin network, and fear that centralisation and collusion could eventually weaken the project as a whole.
Another interesting stat to come out of Diar’s reporting is that on-chain bitcoin transactions once again hit a year-high during the third quarter of 2018. It was a close thing, though, with something like 70,000 transactions more being registered compared to Q1. The number of bitcoins moved, is down 37%, though, and the dollar value of the traffic is 61% down on the previous best period. It adds up to a total of around $315bn of bitcoin volume during 2018 as a whole to that point.