The Bitcoin mining hash rate, a measure of the total mining power securing the Bitcoin network, has been at a plateau near 50 Exahash/s since August 2018. This follows three years of rapidly accelerating hash rate on the Bitcoin network, indicating a shift in the mining industry.
In late July, the Bitcoin mining hash rate first exceeded 50 Exahash/s but has not escaped that level since. For three straight months, hash rate has been consistently averaging 50 Exahash/s, dipping to as low as 40 Exahash/s, and reaching the all-time record 62 Exahash/s briefly.
There are three factors which impact the profitability of Bitcoin mining, which could explain this plateau in the hash rate: Bitcoin’s price, cost and efficiency of mining rigs, as well as mining difficulty. The higher the price of Bitcoin, the more money miners make. The price of Bitcoin is very clearly correlated to this hash rate plateau, since the last significant Bitcoin rally peaked at over USD 8,500 in late July, and was completely equalized by early August when the price returned to USD 6,500. That is when mining hash rate stopped increasing ad Bitcoin has been steady in the USD 6,000-7,000 range ever since.
Bitcoin mining difficulty has increased from 6 trillion in late July to over 7 trillion as of the beginning of November. The higher the difficulty, the less revenue each unit of mining hash rate receives. Considering that the hash rate has not risen for three months now, the relatively low price of Bitcoin combined with higher difficulty has likely made it unprofitable to expand mining operations, even for major companies like Bitmain. The mining difficulty actually declined from 7.45 trillion to 7.18 trillion throughout October 2017, the first decline in difficulty since November 2017.
Bitcoin mining technology has been improving, with the biggest announcement being 7 nm rigs being produced by Bitmain. These are the most efficient mining chips in history but apparently,
the increase in efficiency of Bitcoin mining rigs does not outweigh the lack of price increase and high mining difficulty.
It will probably take a significant Bitcoin rally to boost the mining hash rate above the 50 Exahash/s plateau.
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