In brief:

  • Bitcoin’s mining difficulty has noted a major uptick.
  • Network difficulty is heading for an all-time high.
  • If the current trend continues, it could exacerbate the issue of miner capitulation during the Bitcoin halving.

Bitcoin mining difficulty is on the rise. After recording the biggest percentage change in over six months, the network is primed to hit difficulty levels never witnessed before—just in time for the Bitcoin halving

According to stats from BTC.com yesterday, Bitcoin's mining difficulty cited an 8.45% increase from 14.72 trillion (T), to 15.95 T. The last time the network noted such an uptick in difficulty was in September last year, when it rose by 10.38%. 

Bitcoin mining difficulty over the past 6 months. Image: BTC.com

Now, the data suggests that mining difficulty is heading for an all-time high, with BTC.com estimating that In a little over two weeks, network difficulty will rise by a further 8.09%— bringing its total value to 17,24 T. 

Bitcoin mining difficulty is a network calibration which accounts for new network power or a lack thereof. The more hashing power—and therefore miners—the network bears, the higher the difficulty adjustment and vice versa. This acts as a means of delaying or increasing the block time to maintain a 10-minute average. If it takes less than 10 minutes to mine a block, difficulty increases, if it takes longer, difficulty drops. 

What mining difficulty means for the Bitcoin halving 

With the Bitcoin halving less than 25 days away, a change in mining difficulty could throw a spanner in the works. 

As Bitcoin's block reward halves, some retail miners could be forced to capitulate due to a lull in profitability as mining rigs become obsolete; mining difficulty reaching an all-time high is likely to exacerbate the issue.

Nevertheless, with fewer miners competing for each block reward, difficulty will eventually recalibrate—allowing less sophisticated mining machines a chance at profitability once again.