What is a mining pool?
Mining pools are groups of cooperating miners who agree to share block rewards in proportion to their contributed mining hashing power.
While mining pools are desirable to the average miner as they smooth out rewards and make them more predictable
, they unfortunately concentrate power to the mining pool’s owner.
Miners can, however, choose to redirect their hashing power to a different mining pool at anytime.
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The Biggest Mining Pools
The list below details the biggest Bitcoin mining pools. This is based on info from Blockchain’s pool share chart:
Antpool is a Chinese based mining pool, maintained by BitMain. Antpool mines about 15% of all blocks.
DiscusFish, also known as F2Pool, is based in China. DiscusFish has mined about 12% of all blocks over the past six months.
BitFury currently mines about 12% of all bitcoins in three data centers across Georgia.
It’s a private pool and can’t be joined.
BTCC is China’s third largest Bitcoin exchange. Its mining pool currently mines about 7% of all blocks.
ViaBTC is a somewhat new mining pool that has been around for about one year.
BW, established in 2014, is another mining company based in China. It currently mines about 8% of all blocks.
BTC.top is another new pool. It does not appear to have a website, so it may be a private pool.
Slush was the first mining pool and currently mines about 6% of all blocks.
Slush is probably one of the best and most popular mining pools despite not being one of the largest.
Best Bitcoin Mining Pool Comparison
The comparison chart above is just a quick reference. The location of a pool does not matter all that much. Most of the pools have servers in every country so even if the mining pool is based in China, you could connect to a server in the US, for example.
Which Countries Mine the most Bitcoins?
Bitcoin mining tends to gravitate towards countries with cheap electricity.
As Bitcoin mining is somewhat centralized, 10-15 mining companies have claimed the vast majority of network hash power.
With many of these companies in the same country, only a number of countries mine and export a significant amount of bitcoins.
China mines the most bitcoins and therefore ends up “exporting” the most bitcoins.
Electricity in China is very cheap and has allowed Chinese Bitcoin miners to gain a very large percentage of Bitcoin’s hash power.
It’s rumored that some Chinese power companies point their excess energy towards Bitcoin mining facilities so that no energy goes to waste.
China is home to many of the top Bitcoin mining companies:
It’s estimated that these mining pools own somewhere around 60% of Bitcoins hash power, meaning they mine about 60% of all new bitcoins.
Georgia is home to BitFury, one of the largest producers of Bitcoin mining hardware and chips. BitFury currently mines about 15% of all bitcoins.
Sweden is home to KnCMiner, a Bitcoin mining company based in Stockholm. KnCMiner currently mines about 7.5% of all bitcoins.
The US is home to 21 Inc., a Bitcoin mining company based in California.
21 runs a large amount of miners, but also sells low powered bitcoin miners as part of their 21 Bitcoin computer.
Most of the hash power from the 21 Bitcoin computers is pointed towards 21’s mining pool. 21 Inc. mines about 3% of all bitcoins.
The countries above mine about 80% of all bitcoins.
The rest of the hash power is spread across the rest of the world, often pointed at smaller mining pools like Slush (Czech Republic) and Eligius (US).
If you cloud mine then you don’t need to select a pool; the cloud mining company does this automatically.
Why are Miners Important?
Bitcoin miners are crucial to Bitcoin and its security. Without miners, Bitcoin would be vulnerable and easy to attack.
Most Bitcoin users don’t mine.
However, miners are responsible for the creation of all new bitcoins and a fascinating part of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
These warehouses usually direct their hashing power towards mining pools.