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The next months will finally see ASIC miners come into play, which will increase the global network hashrate by an amount never seen before. Of course, mining difficulty will then increase accordingly, but there will be a (how small?) timeframe where those new devices will be generating lots and lots of new coins. Then, as difficulty increases, mining new bitcoins will become increasingly harder.

How is this going to affect bitcoin prices (apart from market speculation which has been quite wild lately)?

My guess is that prices will drop when ASIC devices start mining, and then they will steadily rise because mining botcoins will never be so easy anymore. But then, of course, I'm not the only one guessing this... thus, lots of people will probably think "now it's a good time to buy bitcoins" and this will keep the prices high.

What do you think about this?

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Difficulty adjusts every 2016 blocks, which is meant to average out to about 2 weeks.

But if you look at MtGox's average trading volume over the past few weeks it has been somewhere between 50K and 100K. If difficulty remains constant you would expect there to be about 3,600 bitcoins minted per day, or 3-7% of average daily volume.

Also bear in mind that the bitcoins which are minted will be scattered across all the people in all the mining pools that are generating them, so without some concerted action you are very unlikely to see that many coins hitting the market at the same time.

I think that the reality is that the ramp-up of the ASIC manufacturers is such that we're unlikely to see some sort of cliff, either in bitcoin generation rates or in resultant prices. The only way in which I could see the generation rates being tweaked is if someone built a very powerful ASIC farm and turned it on and off to bring the difficulty up and down at advantageous times. But then I'd imagine that the developers would step in to tweak the difficulty calculation process to avoid such gaming of the system.

  • I was unaware that the "developers" could tweak anything... AFAIK, the formulae and payouts have already been decided... Wouldn't that be a security concern? – BadPirate Jan 6 '14 at 2:37

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