I probably don’t need to tell you that bitcoin’s price is up in the new year. But did you know that the bitcoin mining hash rate and difficulty are climbing too?
On January 5, 2020, Bitcoin’s hash rate struck a new all-time high of 117 exahashes per second (EH/s) (that is, miners are producing roughly 117,000,000,000,000,000,000 hashes every second in hopes of finding the next block for the network). Mining difficulty has risen in tandem, setting a new all time high of 13.79 T on the second day of the new year.
Further Reading: What Is Bitcoin Mining?
2020 is the year of Bitcoin’s third halving — an algorithmic event that cuts Bitcoin’s block reward (currently 12.5 BTC) in half. So, are miners racing to unearth as many bitcoin as possible before their yields are cut in half?
Maybe but probably not. There’s a less obvious, more nuanced explanation for the rise in hash rate: Established mining farms are now in a position to ramp up their operations.
Bitcoin Miners Chasing Hashes
“We see the majority of recent hash rate coming online from existing operations,” Ethan Vera, an operator at the North American Luxor Mining Pool, told Bitcoin Magazine. “The majority of hash rate increase is coming from China. F2Pool had a great week increasing their hash rate by about 1 exahash (about 5 percent [of total output]). Huobi and a few other pools also saw strong levels of hash rate increase.”
Some of this hash rate growth has come from operation of Bitmain’s Antminer S17+, a newly released,