Earlier today the difficulty threshold for generating bitcoins went from 25998 to 36460. The difficulty readjusts every 2,016 blocks and today this happened at block 108,864.
This puts the hashing strength of the entire Bitcoin network at roughly 261 Ghash/second. Higher hashing strength for the network results in a lower likelihood of a block being solved by a miner’s computing hardware.
The difficulty adjustments had been increasing but this spike, reflecting a 40% growth in just 10 days, is astounding. The contributing factors include:
Bitcoin Pooled Mining (BPM) now accounts for over 60 Ghash/s, about double the level at the last difficulty change. The recent change to a “score-based” algorithm to prevent cheating should keep interest in collaborative mining thriving.
Online and social media attention resulting from parity with the dollar being reached..
The increases in difficulty have actually lagged the increases in the BTC/USD exchange rate, and as a result, mining is and continues to be more profitable than it was in recent months.
While these increase may be difficult to repeat regularly, this burst likely will be sustained a bit longer as many of those interested enough to purchase hardware have yet to be able to have plugged their new computing power in yet even.
Written on 18 Feb 2011.