On Monday, 17th of October, 2022, bitcoin experienced its slowest block time in over a year, the last occurrence during the China crypto ban. It took over an hour for a single block of bitcoin to be mined.
After the ban on bitcoin mining in China, a block time of 100 minutes was recorded in 2021. This went well above the 10-minute estimated time, leaving thousands of transactions stuck in an unconfirmed state. This is the closest it has been to the high experienced in 2021.
According to the on-chain data provided by a couple of block explorers, the interval between confirming block 759,054 and 759,055 on the bitcoin blockchain between Luxor and Foundry USA was precisely 85minutes. That is about an hour and 15 minutes longer than the average time it usually takes to confirm or mine a block. About 13,000 transactions were left in a queue and pending before the latest block was mined.
A block time determines how long it takes to transfer a cryptocurrency. The average bitcoin block time was 10 minutes before the cracking down on cryptocurrency in China, which mandated the shutdown of Bitcoin mining. China was fast becoming the hub of the cryptocurrency world and boosted significant crypto exchanges like Binance and other Bitcoin mining companies.
What Caused The Transactional Blackout?
The bitcoin blockchain underwent a mining difficulty adjustment to make sure that block confirmations kept taking place at 10-minute intervals. The mining difficulty surged to 35.6 trillion, making it more expensive to mine bitcoin. This increase pressured the mining industry with soaring energy prices and a bearish crypto market. Amid the chaos, Tadge Dryja, founder of the Lightning Network, sent out a tweet, stating that the 85-minute interval between blocks can be expected to occur once every 34 days, not considering any problematic changes.
What Is The Mining Difficulty About?
Bitcoin mining difficulty is the level of difficulty at which a new bitcoin block is discovered through mining. Due to the decentralized nature of the Bitcoin network, an algorithm was hard-coded into the source code by its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
The Bitcoin network relies solely on a decentralized transaction validation process where anyone can be responsible for validating new transactions and chronologically adding them to the blockchain via new blocks. The process discourages any intent to corrupt the blockchain with invalid transactions. This algorithm ensures that the blocks discovered by miners are at a steady pace, so it constantly readjusts the difficulty of the mining process according to the number of miners operating in the network.
Why Is The Difficulty In Mining A Big Problem?
The algorithm responsible for the bitcoin mining difficulty was designed to keep the entire system stable by maintaining a 10-minute timeline for finding new blocks. It takes 10 minutes on average for a single miner on the whole network to generate a winning code and win the right to present a new block of transactions to be included in the blockchain.
To keep this frequency, the algorithm either increases or decreases the difficulty of mining bitcoin, as the case may be. The problem is ramped up if there is an influx of miners or mining rigs on the network. If the opposite happens( if there is a reduction in the number of miners competing to find new blocks), the algorithm reduces the mining difficulty so that it’s easier for the remaining miners to discover new blocks.
The mining difficulty of the bitcoin network is adjusted either by adding to or subtracting from the zeros at the front of the target hash( This is the name given to the fixed-length code that the miners are trying to beat). Without this mining difficulty algorithm, new blocks would most likely be discovered quicker as the number of miners with better types of equipment on the network increases. This would bring about fresh circulation at an unprecedented rate and affect Bitcoin’s value.
The bitcoin blockchain’s extremely high block confirmation time left the crypto world in disarray for a short while.
Thankfully, this is not a common occurrence, as the only other time it has been this bad was in 2021. Although the confirmation time might fluctuate from time to time, the mining difficulty algorithm would ensure that the preset average time of 10 minutes is continuously upheld.