For the first time ever, a bitcoin fork has now changed its difficulty, currently operating at 26% of the main chain’s mining difficulty.
The change happened at block 478577, which was found at around 4AM London time on August 3rd 2017. It lowered difficulty to 80%, with the next 5 blocks lowering it further until block 478582 lowered it to 26%.
That’s where the hash-rate may stay for now, with the network starting to operate at some level of normality, but blocks are not yet running at the usual 10 minutes.
The probable reason is because the hashrate is still lower than the difficulty, with some of it leaving shortly after the first day, probably waiting for the difficulty to adjust, which it now has.
That makes old hardware profitable. So miners, whether in farms or at their homes, may turn them on, starting that endless race to find the right combination of those 0s and 1s.
There are only two known Bitcoin Cash mining pools at this stage, ViaBTC, which offers their miners the option to direct their hashrate towards Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Cash, and bitcoin.com, which does the same.
There is a third, unknown, miner or mining pool. They backed the network during its very first hours on August first, producing blocks with an estimated 300-400 Petahash, translating to around 2% of the main-chain network.
There were worries it may be an attacker, but their pause of mining after around 12 blocks and their re-start after 12 hours was clearly calculated towards lowering the difficulty so that the chain can start operating as normal, something which has now been achieved.
As such, the miner is likely good-willed and probably a big blocker with the profile fitting that of BTC.TOP which has stated will share their hashrate between Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Core dependent on price.
That, however, is unconfirmed and it may well be the case it is many small miners, but what now seems somewhat clear is that the hard-fork chain-split has gone through smoothly, without any problems and has faced no known attacks.
As such, we can now say the hardfork was successful. The two communities have now split. The actions of one no longer directly affects the other. The decisions or opinions of Bitcoin Core developers no longer has any effect on big blockers.
After so much struggle, they have finally set themselves free, but if winning or ending the civil war was difficult, winning the peace will be even more so – although the latter should hopefully be a lot more fun.