The computing energy dedicated to serving the blockchain network surged to a new record during the past two weeks as more than 100,000 new miners powered up.
Data from mining services provider BTC.com showed on Monday that in the previous two weeks the average bitcoin mining hashrate jumped 10.8% to 71.43 quintillion hashes per second (EH/s).
Theprevious record was set in the two weeks ending July 9, when the hashrate hit 64.85EH/s - a surge of 14.2% from the prior two-week period.
Mining difficuly also hit a new record during the most recent two-week period, according to the BTC.com data, reaching 9.99 trillion, and surpassing the 9.06 trillion seen in the two-week period ending July 9.
Mining Difficulty Adjusted
Bitcoin adjusted its mining difficulty on Monday at block height 586,672 - a process designed to either increase or decrease competition levels on the network depending on the number of miners online and the relative speed at which new blocks are produced. This process happens every 2,016 blocks - or approximately once every two weeks.
If the additional power generated by the network over the past two weeks - equating to 6.9EH/s - was boosted by an influx of new ASIC miners, which can generate around around 55 million tera hashes per second, this suggests more than 100,000 miners may have been added to the network in the past two weeks.
Although the price of bitcoin has dipped a little during July after surging in the first half of 2019 to an 18-month of $13,930 on June 26, it remains nearly 220% higher since the start of the year.
This price rise has driven robust growth in the number of miners competing for bitcoin rewards and, subsequently the profits at mining pools and the makers of the processing chips that used in mining gear have risen too.
Growth in such profits have been reflected in the share prices of the companies involved: AMD - maker of the graphic processing units (GPUs) that power bitcoin mining rigs - has risen 64% this year, despite a 13% dip in the last couple of weeks. Nvidia - which makes a rival GPU - is up 21% this year.
This year's surge in mining activity has been accompanied by growth in cheaper sources of electricity to power the energy-hungry industry.
While Canada, China and areas of the US which can provide mining pools with cheap hydro-electric power have long been a source of generation for the industry, even cheaper sources are springing up in some unlikely places.
Bitcoin farms have reportedly been springing up in old factories and warehouses in Iran, where electricity bills are subsidised - although legislation passed at the weekend is to regulate the mining process that will make mining more expensive than previously.