So from what I understand, mining bitcoins basically becomes more difficult as more bitcoins are mined. This is done so computing power doesn't get so strong that bitcoin mining becomes trivial to the point where people could mine 100's of bitcoins a day using their cell phone, for example.

Assuming that my understanding is correct, do any of you math wizards out there know if there will ever come a time when the computing power is strong enough to make the mining time insignificant, or will the blockchain always be ahead so to speak because it becomes more complex as more bitcoins are found/rewarded/whatever?

Very curious about this. Thank you for any answers.

  • The issue with this question is that BTC doesn't use "encryption" in the literal sense of that word. Rather, it uses a proof-of-work algorithm to pile work on status-updates of the Bitcoin network, making it costly to change history (which would require to redo the work). As it becomes easier to provide this work through technological progress, the amount of work to be redone to change history increases as well. As there is no encryption to be hacked, I don't understand what you want to hear here.
    – Murch
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 14:23
  • Perhaps you should check out What exactly is Mining?, and then return here to clarify your question and flag it for reopening! :)
    – Murch
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 14:25
  • @Murch I probably didn't word it the best, but I think it is pretty clear what I'm asking. You might be over moderating on this one. I'll see what I can do to remove the reference to encryption, but again, I think it's pretty clear what is being asked here. Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 3:10
  • @NotoriousPet0 I interpreted your question as asking about the algorithms underlying Bitcoin, like ECDSA, SHA256, and HASH160. Is that correct, or are you asking about mining retargeting, as Murch thinks?
    – Nick ODell
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 6:07
  • The question is vague, because it doesn't define what hacking is. For example, are you asking whether it will be possible in the future to create a longer blockchain with more proof-of-work? That's already possible using current technology. Or, are you asking whether it will be possible that mining retargeting will be unable to control the block time? etc etc.
    – Nick ODell
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 6:12

2 Answers 2


The difficulty of the mining algorithm is solely reliant on the time it takes to mine 2016 blocks and the previous difficulty. (See: How is difficulty calculated?).

As the mining algorithm retargets exponentially (up to a factor of 4) every 2016 blocks, it is impossible for technological progress to outpace difficulty increase in the long run. Even if the mining power were to double every day (which is insane!), the block interval would only go down to about every two minutes in average, i.e. approximately five times faster.

On another answer I've provided a sample calculation for an overnight hash power increase by factor 21, which you might find interesting. The difficulty would catch up in 14 days.

  • there is one potential attack vector that involves driving the mining difficulty up to very high levels, then quitting mining, so that mining the next 2016 blocks (or however many the altcoin requires) would take a very long time (eg a year). i heard of this being used to keep altcoins from getting off the ground. it wouldn't work with bitcoin though, since nobody has that much spare hashpower. Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 2:18
  • 1
    That's correct, however this question is specifically about the opposite way of breaking the mining algorithm, i.e. whether it can be made too easy.
    – Murch
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 12:23

Theoretically, but doing so by setting block time to at most 1 second would currently (theoretically, of course!) require a hashrate of at least 48 zetahashes per second. This would mean that, for roughly 34 minutes, blocks are being mined so fast the network can't keep up. After that adjustments, everything would go back to normal assuming the miners keep running at that rate. Then, for 133 minutes, it would be 4 seconds, and it would go up exponentially 3 times total, do a smaller increase the last time, and then it will be set.

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