The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance has released a tool that shows the distribution of Bitcoin hashing power around the world. Whilst the data is far from perfect, it provides a clearer picture than ever into where the largest concentrations of mining operations are in both China and the rest of the planet.
China Still Leads Bitcoin Mining
Casa Co-Founder Jameson Lopp alerted his followers to the new study via Twitter. It is based on data provided by participating mining pools. Although representing only around two-thirds of the total hashrate, it has been used to build a picture of global and local (to China) miner distribution. [CCAF]
The study relies on the assumption that the distribution of hashing power provided by those mining pools contributing data is reflective of the wider Bitcoin network. There are, of course, limitations with the methodology used. However, the study provides the best picture of just where in the world major mining operations are located today, as well as how the distribution changes over time. Data is available from last September to the present day.
In terms of global distribution, China remains the largest Bitcoin mining nation, with 65.08% of the total network hash rate. Following China are the US (7.24%), Russia (6.9%), Kazakhstan (6.17%), Malaysia (4.33%), Iran (3.82%), and Canada (0.82%).
The study also aims provide insight into the mining distribution within each of these major hashing hubs. For now, the data is only available for China.
The province of Xinjiang leads Chinese mining with 35.76% of the hashrate. The rest is comprised of large operations in Sichuan (9.66%), Nei Mongol (8.07%), Yunnan (5.42%), and Beijing (1.73%). Meanwhile the provinces of Zhejiang, Chanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, and Ningxia each account for less than 1% of the nation’s share of hashrate.
The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance plans to add additional data for other key global mining centers. Mentioned specifically in the accompanying methodology section as areas of particular interest are Siberia, the US states of Washington and New York, and Québec and Alberta in Canada.
Cambridge Data Is Far from Perfect
By the researchers’ own admission, the data from the Cambridge study is somewhat problematic. Firstly, the picture it creates is based on just 37% of the total Bitcoin hashrate. The data used might not actually be as representative of the real mining distribution as the researchers assume.
The second major limitation of the study is the use of VPNs. The researchers wrote:
[VPN or proxy services] may distort the overall geographic distribution and result in an overestimation of hashrate in some provinces or countries.
This limitation created particular issues with the data for the Chinese province of Zhejiang. To create a what the researchers deem a more representative picture, they divided the problematic region’s hashrate among other known regions participating in the relevant mining pools.
Whilst far from perfect, the new study is still useful for identifying trends within the distribution of hash rate. With further updates promised from the CCAF, the clearest picture of mining distribution to data will only get clearer too.