Bitcoin Mining Explained

Thursday, Jun 1, 2023

Bitcoin mining refers to the process of adding transaction records to Bitcoin’s public ledger, known as the blockchain. Mining involves solving complex mathematical puzzles through computational power, with the miner who solves the puzzle first being rewarded with Bitcoin.

The Technical Side of Bitcoin Mining

Mining involves the use of cryptographic hash functions, specifically SHA-256 (Secure Hash Algorithm 256). Miners compete to find a hash that is less than or equal to the current target set by the Bitcoin network. When a miner finds such a hash, they can add a new block of transactions to the blockchain and are rewarded with newly minted Bitcoin.

Bitcoin mining starts with the miner collecting a few unconfirmed transactions from the pool, along with the hash of the most recent block on the blockchain. The miner then inserts this information into the block header.

Next, the miner adds a nonce, an arbitrary number used only once, to the block header. The entire block header is then hashed, producing a string of characters. If this string is less than or equal to the target hash set by the network, the miner adds the block to the blockchain and is rewarded. If not, the miner changes the nonce and repeats the process until they find a suitable hash.

Bitcoin Mining Difficulty

The network adjusts the difficulty every 2016 blocks, or approximately every two weeks, to ensure that the network adds a new block roughly every 10 minutes.

The Bitcoin network adjusted difficulty based on the total computational power of the network, known as the hash rate. If more miners join the network and the hash rate increases, the difficulty rises to keep block creation at 10 minutes. Conversely, if miners leave and the hash rate drops, the difficulty decreases.

Changes Over Time

When Bitcoin was first launched in 2009, the mining difficulty was low, as there were few miners and their computational power was limited. However, as Bitcoin’s popularity grew, more miners joined the network, and technological advancements led to more powerful mining equipment. This caused the mining difficulty to skyrocket over time.

In the early days, miners used a standard CPU. However, miners soon switched to using graphical processing units (GPUs), which were far more efficient. Specialized hardware known as ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) were designed for mining Bitcoin, further increasing the network’s total computational power and the mining difficulty.

Satoshi’s Miner

A great deal of debate has taken place around the setup and programming of Satoshi’s miner, sometimes referred to as the Patoshi Miner. Satoshi mined about 1.1 million Bitcoin in the early days of its operation.

The two most credible theories are that he either used a networked group of around 50 computers, or he used a single high end CPU with multi-threading. Either way, he scanned several sub-ranges in parallel, and it is apparent that he programmed his miner differently than the Satoshi client 0.1 other miners were using.

Regardless of how many computers he was using or how he programmed them, most people agree he was using a CPU consistent with the time. 

Mining Pools 

With the increased complexity and competition in mining, individual miners found it more advantageous to pool their resources, thus creating Bitcoin mining pools. Not only has the hardware improved, miners are more likely to pool their hash rate to guarantee smaller payouts.

A Bitcoin mining pool is a collective group of miners who combine their computational resources over a network. The aim is to solve blocks more quickly and split the rewards equally, depending on the contributed processing power, known as hash rate.

Hash rate refers to the speed at which a miner’s machine can complete an operation in the Bitcoin code. Higher hash rate means more chances of finding the next block and receiving the mining reward.


F2Pool, also known as DiscusFish, is based in China and was established in 2013. As of 2023, F2Pool consistently ranks as one of the largest Bitcoin mining pools. This pool uses the Stratum mining protocol and offers services for a plethora of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.


Operated by Bitmain, a producer of ASIC mining hardware and the world-renowned Antminer series, AntPool is another Chinese Bitcoin mining pool that has a significant influence over the network. The pool offers various security options for miners and supports mining for multiple cryptocurrencies.


Another major Bitcoin mining pool is Poolin. Founded by the former creators of F2Pool in 2017, Poolin is known for its mobile app that allows miners to manage their operations remotely. Poolin supports a wide range of cryptocurrencies and is praised for its user-friendly interface and detailed mining metrics.

The pool’s hash rate typically ranges in the top three positions, indicating its significant contribution to the Bitcoin network.


SlushPool is credited as the first-ever Bitcoin mining pool, established in 2010 in the Czech Republic. Despite not being the largest in terms of hash rate, SlushPool holds a prestigious position in Bitcoin’s history and remains influential.

SlushPool uses a scoring system to prevent miners from switching pools, depending on their profitability. It may not always command the highest hash rate, but it consistently ranks among the top ten mining pools. is operated by Bitmain and has been consistently among the top mining pools since its inception in 2016. Known for its transparency, provides detailed statistics and allows users to securely mine Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

These Bitcoin mining pools significantly influence the Bitcoin network through their high hash rates. Each pool has unique features, yet all share the objective of solving blocks efficiently and splitting the rewards based on contributed hash power. 

By working together in these pools, miners can achieve more consistent returns than they would from mining individually. 

Mintlayer’s Role in Bitcoin Mining

Mintlayer will use a proof of stake consensus mechanism, and will not require miners. Instead, to validate Mintlayer blocks, you only need to stake your tokens. This is a more democratic approach, since mining hardware is expensive. 

Since we expect that most liquidity entering the Mintlayer blockchain will be arriving from Bitcoin, Bitcoin’s consensus mechanism will play its part in the larger Mintlayer ecosystem. 

Miners will also mine and validate transactions associated with atomic swaps from Bitcoin to Mintlayer. 


In conclusion, Bitcoin mining is a complex process that plays a crucial role in maintaining the Bitcoin network’s functionality and security.

Despite the increase in mining difficulty over time, the ingenious design of Bitcoin’s protocol ensures that the rate of new Bitcoin creation remains steady. 

Technology, strategy, and other factors will continue to evolve and improve with the network.