A hash is an alphanumeric code randomly generated, and hashing is the process of guessing that code (or as close to it as possible). Each guess submitted by computers on the network is measured, and the hash rate is how many guesses per second are taking place across the entire network.
- Hash rate measures the computational power on a blockchain network.
- Hash rate is determined by how many guesses are made per second.
- The overall hash rate helps determine a blockchain network's security and mining difficulty.
- Hash rates can change over time, with the most popular blockchains increasing year over year.
Understanding Hash Rates
Hash rates are measured by the number of guesses each computer makes per second to solve for the hash on a blockchain network. This is an essential part of crypto mining on a proof-of-work (PoW) network.
Here’s how it works:
- A blockchain network employs a hashing algorithm randomly generating a hash code.
- Mining computers on the blockchain network compete to guess the hash value.
- The amount of guesses per second on the blockchain network is measured as the hash rate.
- The hash is “solved” when a miner guesses a value that is lower than or equal to the numeric value of the target hash.
- The winning miner can add the following block to the blockchain and earn crypto rewards (known as block rewards).
The higher the hash rate, the more computers join a blockchain network and process hashes (guesses) on the network.
A high hash rate represents more security and health on a PoW blockchain network, as there is less of a chance of an attack.
How to Measure Hash Rate
Hash rate is measured by the number of hashes (or guesses) per second on a blockchain network. The more extensive the blockchain network, the higher the hash rate.
Because there are typically hundreds (or thousands) of computers making millions of guesses per second, the hash rate is generally measured in terahashes, or 1 trillion hashes, per second. So, for example, the Bitcoin network hash rate is measured in terahashes per second.
Smaller networks may be measured in smaller increments, such as kilohashes per second (1,000/s), megahashes per second (1 million/s), or gigahashes per second (1 billion/s).
Why Is Hash Rate Important?
Hash rate has importance as an indicator of the overall security of a blockchain network, as well as the mining difficulty for miners to earn block rewards. The more miners part of a blockchain network competing to mine blocks, the less likely it is for a malicious attack on the network to occur.
Hash rate also affects the mining difficulty of a given blockchain. Some blockchains increase the difficulty of mining a block as the hash rate increases. This means that crypto networks with extraordinarily high hash rates may be nearly impossible for individual miners to compete.
What is Bitcoin’s hash rate?
The hash rate on the Bitcoin network as of October 2022 is around 240 million terahashes per second (or 240,000,000 TH/s). The network first hit a hash rate of 1 TH/s in May 2011 and has increased yearly since then.
What happens when the hash rate changes (increases or decreases)?
The hash rate is a gauge of the overall network activity by miners on a proof-of-work (PoW) network. When the hash rate increases, here’s what it means:
- More computational resources are being used to mine blocks.
- More electrical power is consumed.
- The network increases security as it becomes too big to overpower a single entity.
- Mining becomes much more complex, and most blockchain network algorithms increase the difficulty to mine as the hash rate increases.
When the hash rate of a PoW blockchain network decreases, this typically means:
- Fewer miners are competing to add blocks and earn block rewards.
- The network becomes less secure and more vulnerable to a 51% attack, which occurs when a group of miners who control more than 50% of the network’s mining hash rate alter the blockchain.
- Mining computers consume less power.
- Mining difficulty declines, making it easier to mine blocks.
Where can I see different crypto hash rates?
There are several places to view the hash rates of popular PoW crypto blockchain networks. Websites such as BitInfoCharts and others measure the hash rates of various cryptocurrencies. Here are a few of the most popular PoW hash rates:
Hash rates are indicative of the popularity of a cryptocurrency. The more computing power dedicated to a given crypto network, the more likely the cryptocurrency will increase in growth and adoption.