Bitcoin, the main blockchain network in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, continues with to grow constantly. The processing power of the Bitcoin network experimented an accelerated growth in the las period, at a much faster rate than other cryptocurrencies with high levels of adoption.
In the last two weeks, the processing capacity of the Bitcoin blockchain network increased by 5 exahashes (EH). In comparison, it took eight and a half years for the Bitcoin network to reach five exahashes for the first time. This event happened in July last year, according to the Reddit user called MotherSuperiour: “The Bitcoin hashrate jumped nearly 5 exahash in the last 2 weeks alone. To put that gain in perspective, it took ~8.5 years for the entire network hashrate to reach 5 EH for the first time. Miners are entering at an astonishing rate.”
The processing power of the Bitcoin network has been varying and moving constantly and more than the Bitcoin Cash blockchain network. The variations of the Bitcoin network were higher than the entire capacity of the Bitcoin Cash network, ranging from 36 to 42 EH. The current processing capacity of the Bitcoin network is 38 exahashes. The processing power of Bitcoin Cash, however, oscillated between three and five exahashes. This means the Bitcoin network managed to have a daily variation that is higher than the historic maximum of the Bitcoin Cash processing power, according to Bitinfocharts.
If we analyze the relation between the difficulty and the block generation time, we can observe that the difficulty was fixed between May 24th and June 5th this year, standing at the value of 4.3 T. Approximately at the middle of this period the block generation time surpassed the difficulty and reached an average time of 560 seconds or nine minutes and 33 seconds.
Since June 5th, 2018, the block generation time dropped to less than 520 seconds, to eight minutes and six seconds. This occurred when the 2016 blocks stipulated in the protocol were mined to increase the difficulty. This adjustments of the mining difficulty was effective from June 6th, when the difficulty saw an enormous increase and reached 4.9 T.
Nevertheless, the block generation time remains below the time indicated by the difficulty, although with a bull trend, which is accelerating the next adjustment. The next adjustment will happen the next 2016 blocks are mined.
At the same time, the average number of transactions inserted in each block lowered since the beginning of this year. The current level of transactions in each block is at the levels from 2015. After the rally from December last year, Bitcoin Cash maintained the quantity of transactions realized on a daily basis at 15,978 transactions. Bitcoin, on the other hand, maintains its number of around 298,000 transactions per day since February this year, according to the statistics published by Bitinfocharts.
In the frame of the growth sustained by Bitcoin, its processing power, difficulty and size, but with a stable number of transactions performed on a daily basis and a stable block size, 51% attacks could be possible between the blockchain networks that share the same processing method. This is what happened recently with the blockchain networks of Bitcoin Gold and ZenCash.
The Ethereum Classic (ETC) blockchain network deactivated its difficulty bomb, which caused a huge drop of its difficulty levels. The difficulty in this blockchain network went from above 150 T before the update that took place on May 29th this year, to 105.79 T these days. When it comes to the hash power, the Ethereum Classic network presented a drop from 12.4 T to an average of 8 T these days, according to Bitinfocharts. If the processing power rate is lower in other blockchains that use the same algorithm, this means that blockchain network is prone to 51% attacks.
It is worth mentioning that the processing power rates of different blockchain networks could have increased also because of the popularization of the mining and the entrance of new manufacturers of ASIC mining chips to the market.
If we take into account the statistics published by Crypto51.App, a web portal dedicated to calculating the cost of perpetrating a 51% attack on the networks that use the Proof-of-Work (PoW) protocol, it is obvious that the Bitcoin blockchain network is safe. The Bitcoin network has the highest cost of 51% attack of 560,639 dollars, with the hash rate of 35,191 pentahashes.
Judging by the latest movements in the Bitcoin mining sector, it seems that the work to validate blocks is far from completing its commercial and technical expansion phase. Moreover, it is experiencing an unprecedented growth phase. Besides, it seems the current situation confirms the leading role of Bitcoin in the cryptocurrency ecosystem and shows how some of the main cryptocurrencies could be affected at some point by the malicious mining practices.