The world map of the bitcoin (BTC) mining industry

A team of Chinese researchers has produced the world map of the mining of bitcoin. This study appeared in the science magazine Nature reveals that miners are scattered all over the world.

Thousands of miners

BTC miners seek by trial and error a hashes. Or a password if you want. This hashes is a key granting them the right to broadcast a block of transactions. Then dependent on nodes to validate the block if all the rules of the protocol are respected to the letter.

The protocol says for example that a block must include a reward of 6.25 BTC for its miner. If the latter decides to grant himself 1,000 BTC, the nodes will refuse it. The 6.25 BTC ($130,000) and the money corresponding to all the electricity spent to find the hashes.

This incentive consensus mechanism, also called “Proof of Work”participates in the decentralization of bitcoin.

However, supporters of Proof of Stake often point the finger at the industrialization of mining of BTC which pushes for its centralization. Texas actually represents almost 10% of the hashrate global. Sole miner Riot plans to deploy 750 MWh in the city of Rockdale.

A single country, the United States, hosts 37% of the computing power. However, it is better than last year, when 50% of the hashrate was still in China. This paper published in Nature provides a more precise idea of ​​the situation.

The researchers were surprised to see how scattered the miners are all around the globe. Analysis of geolocation data gleaned from “to one of the major mining pools” reveals the presence of machines of mining in more than 6,000 geographical units in 139 countries and regions.

While many minors are actually settled in well-known places (China, Iceland, Canada, United States, etc.), some are found in unexpected places such as Tahiti or Malawi:

Global presence of Bitcoin mining activity
Results are based on monthly data gleaned between June 2018 and May 2019. You would see fewer miners today in China and more in North America.

On the following map, the surface of the earth has been divided into 7,205 hexagonal boxes on which have been superimposed the data concerning the hashrate.

It appears that miners are present in 933 squares, or 44.3% of the earth’s surface. (PC and smartphones are not included. Only ASICsS have been counted.)

The color of the boxes represents their share of the hashrate total as a percentage. The boxes are divided into six categories:

  • 18 boxes each contain a part of the hashrate greater than 1%.
  • 97 boxes contain a share between 0.1% and 1% of the hashrate.
  • 162 boxes between 0.01% and 0. 1%.
  • 211 boxes between 0.001% 0.01%.
  • 445 boxes between 0 and 0.001%.
  • 6272 white squares with 0%

In other words, the majority of mining is now done industrially. For the authors, “there is no doubt that the mining should tend to concentrate in places that offer a competitive advantage”. In effect, “18 boxes with a hashrate greater than 1% accounted for 61.8% of the total hashrate. »

Spatial analysis of global bitcoin mining
Breakdown of computing power as a percentage of total hashrate

another card available in the study superimposes the type of power plant. There are 247 squares (green) where mining is done/could be done from renewable energy sources.

“It should be noted that BTC mining is very often found where there is renewable energy”can we read. “Renewable energy providers are happy to offer miners deep discounts on electricity outside of peak demand.” “Surplus renewable energy and ‘portable’ mining (by container) are made for each other”.

In sum, “BTC mining is widely dispersed”but the distribution of hashrate is less. We observe a “strong tendency towards spatial concentration, especially where the supply of energy is abundant and cheap”.

PoW critics will say that BTC miners are being infiltrated by miners anyway. pools of mining. Certainly, but it is easy to change pool. We had the demonstration of it quite recently. The miners have deserted the Poolin pool, causing its share of the hashrate from 12.4% to less than 5% in a single day.

Let’s finish by also recalling that the Stratum V2 protocol allows miners to choose the transactions broadcast in the blocks themselves. The risk of censorship by data pools mining sooner or later will be a thing of the past.

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