Bitcoin’s mining difficulty increased by 16.6 percent over the weekend, signaling that the network’s overall hash rate has also increased by a similar amount over the past two weeks. The network’s total estimated hash rate has essentially doubled since the middle of October. A large chunk of this increase has taken place over the past month, where the hash rate has increased by more than 50 percent.
The network hash rate is the total amount of computing power pointed at the Bitcoin network.
Pools That Saw Their Share of Total Hashing Power Increase
It’s difficult to know where exactly this new hashing power is being deployed, but it is possible to see the differences in mining pools’ shares of the overall hash rate.
When comparing the most recently completed difficulty period with a run of 2016 blocks from the middle of October, GBMiners is the pool that saw the largest amount of growth. GBMiners enjoyed an increase of 62 blocks compared to the total set of 2016 blocks from October. Recently, it was found that GBMiners is connected to a Ponzi scheme disguised as a bitcoin cloud mining operation in India.
Since October, BTC.TOP has grown from nothing to roughly 3 percent of the network hash rate. Batpool also emerged during this period of time to grab a little over 1 percent of the network. Not much is known about either of these China-based pools, other than the fact that ltc1btc.com Founder and CEO Jiang Zhuo’er is behind BTC.TOP and does not much care for Bitcoin Core’s Segregated Witness improvement.
Both GBMiners and BTC.TOP signal support for Bitcoin Unlimited as opposed to Bitcoin Core. Bitcoin Unlimited is software that intends to replace Bitcoin’s 1 MB block size limit with the concept of emergent consensus. At this time, it is unclear if this new digital currency network would be a new version of Bitcoin or an altcoin.
In terms of pools signaling for Bitcoin Core’s Segregated Witness improvement, Bitfury saw the largest amount of growth. The mining pool saw an increase of just under 3 percent between the middle of October and the most recently completed difficulty period.
Pools That Saw Their Share of Total Hashing Power Decrease
If the above mining pools are mining more blocks, then that means someone else must be mining fewer blocks.
No miner saw a bigger drop in their share of the network since October than BTCC. BTCC now mines about 35 percent less blocks than they did in October.
No other pool came close to BTCC in terms of a loss in their share of the network hash rate, but ViaBTC and Slush Pool also saw notable declines. These two pools are mining about 25 percent less than the number of blocks they were mining in October.
Hash Rate Continuing to Increase
Although the last difficulty period saw a rather massive increase of 16.6 percent, it appears that hash rate is continuing to be added to the network. At 118 blocks into the current difficulty period, there has already been another estimated 15.25 percent increase in the network hash rate.
Judging from the rapidly increasing hash rate, it appears multiple mining pools are receiving shipments of new hardware. While some predicted Bitcoin could crash and burn as a result of the halving event over the summer, the mining pools were correct in predicting a more positive outcome.
As Bitcoin’s total hash rate increases, it becomes more difficult for a motivated adversary to pull off an effective attack on the network.