Due to discrepancies in opinion between Bitcoin miners and developers on how to handle increasing transaction times, the digital currency has split into two separate projects. The original coin will keep its name of "Bitcoin" and the new branch is to be known as "Bitcoin Cash". Update: the split has now happened.

This is a rather peculiar event for a digital currency to go through, although it is not unexpected. A hard fork, the process of duplicating a blockchain and continuing on a separate path, has been expected for several weeks since miners have signaled support for a fork. The miners responsible for processing transactions and generating new Bitcoins ultimately decide which of the two coins to support.

Investors (or gamblers, depending upon your viewpoint) holding Bitcoins will end up with two sets of coins in their wallets. Each will operate completely independently of one another once the split is finalized. Market value of each coin will likely take some time to stabilize as creating a new currency literally overnight can have interesting effects.

With a current market cap of $44.5 billion, Bitcoin is a well established currency that can be used to buy, sell, and trade. Issues regarding anonymity around digital currencies are often valid concerns, but blockchain technologies are rapidly expanding to support very legitimate uses. A hard fork for Bitcoin could be an important historic moment in the development of new concepts created with blockchain in mind.

For those still upset about the shortage of graphics cards such as the RX 580, fear not. Bitcoin mining has been done with specialized hardware for a few years now and no longer creates any demand for high end gaming hardware.