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Bitcoin Closes 2023 With 27 Dynamic Difficulty Adjustments, Netting a 74% Rise in Mining Challenges

Three days ago, on Dec. 23, 2023, Bitcoin marked its 27th and final difficulty adjustment for the year. This year witnessed 27 shifts in epochs, with the most substantial one on Jan. 15 at block 772,128, seeing a surge in network difficulty by 10.26%.

Bitcoin’s Year: 20 Ups, 7 Downs Total 74% Difficulty Surge

By Jan. 4, 2024, it’s anticipated that Bitcoin will undergo another uptick in mining difficulty. This metric, changing every 2,016 blocks or roughly two weeks, maintains the average interval between blocks at approximately 10 minutes. It does so regardless of the fluctuating mining power within the network. This mechanism stabilizes the issuance rate of new bitcoins, enhancing network security by making block discoveries more challenging as the hashrate either increases or decreases.

Throughout 2023, the network experienced a total of 27 difficulty changes, comprising 20 increases and seven decreases. The most notable hike was on Jan. 15, rocketing by 10.26%. Conversely, the smallest uptick was a mere 0.12% on Aug. 9, 2023, at block 802,368. The most significant drop occurred at the outset of the year on Jan. 2, 2023, plummeting by 3.59%, while the slightest decrease was 0.49% on Feb. 12, 2023, at block 776,160.

At the start of the first difficulty change in January 2023, the difficulty stood at 34.09 trillion and wound up escalating to 72.01 trillion by year’s end. This signifies an increase of 37.92 trillion over 12 months, with all rises amounting to a cumulative change of 89.35%. Conversely, all reductions totaled a decrease of 15.34%, cumulatively marking a network augmentation of 74.01% when considering both the increases and decreases combined.

Despite this escalating difficulty, bitcoin (BTC) miners have added an impressive 311 exahash per second (EH/s) of SHA256 hashrate since the start of the year. From Dec. 26, 2022, to Dec. 26, 2023, a total of 54,035 BTC blocks were mined. Foundry USA claimed the lion’s share, mining 16,494 blocks, which accounts for 30.52% of the year’s aggregate block rewards. Antpool secured 12,280 blocks or 22.73% of the total, while the remaining 25,261 blocks were distributed among over 40 other mining pools.

In 2023, Bitcoin’s enduring adaptability and robust network growth underscored its resilience and innovation. As we approach 2024, the community watches anxiously, ready to navigate the challenges and opportunities of increased mining difficulty. This year’s hashrate momentum sets the stage for continued evolution and commitment to securing the network and its pivotal role in the evolving digital economy Satoshi Nakamoto created.

What do you think about all the difficulty adjustments during the course of the year? Share your thoughts and opinions about this subject in the comments section below.

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