Chunk

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Visualization of the ground portion of a single chunk. The entire chunk extends up to a height of 256.

A chunk is a 256-block tall 16×16 segment of a Minecraft world. Chunks are the method used by the world generator to divide maps into manageable pieces.

Generation[edit]

Chunks are 16 blocks wide, 16 blocks long, and 256 blocks high, which is 65,536 blocks total. Chunks are generated around players when they first enter the world. As they wander around the world, new chunks are generated as needed.

Chunks are generated with the help of the map seed, which means that the chunks are always the same if you would use the same seed again, as long as the map generator and version number remain the same.

Spawn chunks, a 16x16 set of chunks around the world spawn are always loaded, so you can use that to your advantage when making automatic farms.

Chunk loading[edit]

Since Minecraft worlds are 30 million blocks in each cardinal direction and contain an extreme amount of chunks, the game loads only certain chunks in order to make the game playable.

Unloaded chunks are unprocessed by the game and do not process any of the game aspects.

Java Edition[edit]

Tickets[edit]

Loading starts when chunk receives ticket. All loaded chunks originate from ticket.

Each load ticket has 3 properties: Level, Ticket type and (optionally) Time to Live.

Level and load type[edit]

Levels are numbers that determine what load type the chunk is.

Load levels range from 22 to 44 in regular gameplay while only 22 to 33 are relevant. Load levels less than 22 are valid, but only possible with a modded game. Load levels above 44 are not possible.

For a given chunk, only its lowest level matters. (Lower levels = higher load type.)

Not all loaded chunks have the same properties and are divided into 4 load types. This excludes unloaded chunks.

Load Type Level Properties
Entity Ticking 31 and below All game aspects are active.
Ticking 32 All game aspects are active except that entities are not processed (do not move) and chunk ticks aren't either.
Border 33 Only some game aspects are active (redstone and command blocks do not work).
Inaccessible 34 and above No game aspects are active, but world generation still occurs.

Level propagation[edit]

Load levels "propagate" or flow from source chunk with a ticket to neighboring chunks, but each time it increases its level by 1 until the maximum of 44 is reached.

The chunks that get load level from level expansion activate the assigned load type.

Level propagation with a level of 31. Note that levels 35 and more are ignored because they are identical to 34.
34 34 34 34 34 34 34
34 33 33 33 33 33 34
34 33 32 32 32 33 34
34 33 32 31 32 33 34
34 33 32 32 32 33 34
34 33 33 33 33 33 34
34 34 34 34 34 34 34
Same level propagation but with load type instead of level with abbreviations of the load types.
IN IN IN IN IN IN IN
IN BO BO BO BO BO IN
IN BO TI TI TI BO IN
IN BO TI ET TI BO IN
IN BO TI TI TI BO IN
IN BO BO BO BO BO IN
IN IN IN IN IN IN IN

Ticket types[edit]

There are different ticket types, which come from different sources and activate chunks with different load types.

Player ticket[edit]

A ticket can be created by the player. It has a level of 31 so its propagation can be seen in the table above. This ticket is given to each chunk that is within an area surrounding the player and defined by (2c + 1)2 where c is the chunk loading distance.

In single-player, the chunk loading distance is the render distance, as configured in Options. In multiplayer, it is the view-distance, as configured in server.properties.

For example, in a single-player game with a render distance of 5 chunks, an area of 11 × 11 chunks has a load type of entity ticking (level 31), while the immediately enclosing chunks — forming a 13 × 13 perimeter — have ticking (level 32), and the next enclosing chunks (15 × 15 perimeter) are border chunks (level 33).

Forced ticket[edit]

A ticket can also be created by using the forceload command. It has level of 31 so its propagation can be seen in the table above.

Chunks remain force-loaded even after closing and opening the game.

Start ticket[edit]
Propagation of start ticket

Ticket created by the world spawn for the chunk it is located at ("spawn chunks"). Its position can be changed by a /setworldspawn command. It has a level of 22, the lowest in the game. They are active whenever the player is in the overworld and are otherwise permanently active.

Portal ticket[edit]

Ticket created when an entity is teleported through nether portal, given to chunk at the other side of the portal. It has a level of 30, so it is stronger than the player/forceloaded ticket.

It expires after 300 game ticks (without lag equivalent to 15 seconds). Because they are created each time an entity passes through the portal, it is possible to create a "chunk loader", keeping chunks perpetually loaded without the player being near which can be used for various in-game mechanics such as farms, but can create lag.

Dragon ticket[edit]

Ticket created at the start of the battle with ender dragon and is given to the 0,0 chunk (the one with exit portal). It has level of 24.

It expires after no more players participate in the battle or the dragon dies.

Post-teleport ticket[edit]

Ticket created when entity is teleported either by going through the end portal and using teleport or spreadplayers commands. For the teleport command, it has level of 32 whereas for the spreadplayers and end portal it has level of 33.

It expires after 5 game ticks.

Temporary ticket[more information needed][edit]

Ticket created when an arbitrary piece of game code calls "getChunk". If the game code says the chunk should be loaded, it places this ticket on that chunk (after possibly creating it).

The load level depends on what kind of chunk the game attempts to load (a fully world-generated chunk or not). It is always level 33 (border) or greater. In many cases, it involves world generation in some way.

As an example, when a generic mob wandering AI is executing, it asks if a certain block has a solid top surface. As part of that check, that chunk has an "unknown" ticket with level 33 placed on it.

It expires after 1 game tick.

Light ticket[more information needed][edit]

Unknown, possibly world-generation related.

Limitations[edit]

  • Idle timeout
Each dimension has its own idle timeout. If there are players or forceloaded chunks in the dimension, the timeout is disabled. When entity leaves or enters this dimension, the timeout is reset.
If the timeout reaches 300 game ticks, the dimension stops processing certain actions. These include entity processing, ender dragon fight, and global entities (lightning and weather[more information needed]).
  • Some game aspects don't always get processed in loading chunks because there may be other conditions for their progress, which includes the following:
    • Chunk tick
      • Only chunks with centers within 128 blocks of a player are ticked on every game tick. See also Tick.
    • Entities
      • Hostile mobs instantly despawn if they spawn more than 128 blocks from any player.
      • Passive mobs do not spawn naturally outside a 240 block X 240 block area around a player.
        • The passive mob spawn cap is limited by the number of friendly mobs loaded into memory, which means that any passive mobs present in the spawn chunks count toward the mob cap and usually prevents friendly mobs from naturally spawning anywhere else in the world. The only exception is when passive mobs spawn as part of a newly generated chunk.
      • See also Spawn.

Exceptions[edit]

Events in a chunk may affect blocks in outside chunks. If the outside chunk is inactive the effects are suspended in most cases. Specifically,

  • Block changing on the edge of a ticking chunk can spread updates to blocks outside the ticking chunk and make them respond appropriately. The update may be propagated block by block until outside the border chunks, at which time it creates a temporary ticket to continue propagation.
  • Block in a chunk with a 33 level can request a scheduled tick, but it does not be processed until the chunk gets a load level on 32 or below.
  • Flowing water or lava can spread to the first adjacent block outside a ticking chunk, but the flow becomes suspended there until the border chunk has a greater load level.
  • Fire can spread to the first adjacent flammable block outside the ticking chunk. Like water and lava, it becomes suspended there. It cannot spread further until the outside chunk gets a level of 30 or below.
  • Grass and mycelium can spread to the first adjacent block outsider an entity ticking chunk.
  • Pumpkin and melon stem growing on the edge of an entity ticking chunk can place their fruits on an adjacent block outside an entity ticking chunk.
  • An entity (mob, minecart, arrow, etc.) that attempts to move into a ticking chunk from an entity ticking chunk becomes suspended as soon as it leaves the entity ticking chunk. When the ticking chunk gets a greater level, the entity resumes moving.
  • Exploding TNT in entity ticking chunk can damage or destroy blocks in a non-entity-ticking chunk.

Bedrock Edition[edit]

All game aspects are active in loading chunks, including chunks within the simulation distance of a player and chunks loaded by Commands/tickingarea. Unloaded chunks are unprocessed by the game and do not process any of the game aspects.

Type[edit]

Player
A round-like shape[more information needed].
Chunks within the simulation distance of a player are loading.
Command
Create with the /tickingarea command.

Limit[more information needed][edit]

  • Entities
    • Mob spawning is evaluated for every chunk within a 6 chunk cylindrical radius of the player that is loaded.

Exception[edit]

Events in a ticking area may affect blocks in outside chunks. If the outside chunk is inactive the effects are suspended in most cases. Specifically,

  • Block changing on the edge of a ticking area can spread updates to blocks outside ticking area and make them respond appropriately.
  • Flowing water or lava can spread to the first adjacent block in an outside chunk, but the flow becomes suspended there until the outside chunk becomes active.
  • Fire can spread to the first adjacent flammable block outside the ticking area. Like water and lava, it becomes suspended there; although visible, its animation does not run and it cannot spread further until the outside chunk becomes active.
  • Grass and mycelium can spread to the first adjacent block in an outside chunk, but the affected block does not actually change its appearance until its chunk becomes active; it then changes instantly. Grass and mycelium cannot spread beyond the first such block, nor from such a block into the ticking area until the outside chunk becomes active.
  • Pumpkin and melon stem growing on the edge of a ticking area can place their fruits on an adjacent block in an outside chunk.
  • An entity (mob, minecart, arrow, etc.) that attempts to move into an outside chunk becomes suspended as soon as it leaves the ticking area. It remains visible but motionless. When the outside block becomes active, the entity resumes moving.
  • Exploding TNT can damage or destroy blocks in an inactive chunk, and unlike other events, its effects are not limited to adjacent blocks. However, secondary effects in the outside chunk are suspended until the chunk becomes active. For instance, if an explosion destroys a block that supported sand or gravel, the sand or gravel does not fall immediately. The same thing happens with items that were attached to destroyed blocks, such as item frames and redstone torches; they do not drop until the chunk is activated.
  • Primed TNT that has been launched into an inactive chunk is suspended in mid-air within the first outside block it enters. It disappears until the outside chunk becomes active, at which time it resumes its flight and countdown.

Finding chunk edges[edit]

Chunkf32.png

X and Z coordinates that are divisible by 16 represent the boundaries between chunks. EG: (96, -32) is a corner where four chunks meet. One of those chunks is between X coordinates 80 to 96 and Z coordinates -48 to -32. Another one is between X coordinates 96 to 112 and Z coordinates -32 to -16, and so on. When either X or Z crosses a multiple of 16, the player is moving across chunks.

Essentially, the player is in the top-left corner (north-western) of a chunk when both X and Z coordinates are divisible by 16.

Additionally, the player can know the chunk they are on by this formula:
The X of a chunk is floor(X coordinate / 16)
The Z of a chunk is floor(Z coordinate / 16)
Where floor is the largest previous integer. E.g. Floor( 27.9561 ) is 27
In other words, if X was 27, Z was −15 the chunk is chunk (Floor(27/16), Floor(−15/16)), meaning that the player is on chunk (1, −1).
Also, the coordinates of a block within a chunk can be found by taking the coordinate mod 16.

In Java Edition, the key F3+G can be used to display chunk boundaries. Alternately, pressing the "F3" button opens the Debug screen that shows the player's X, Y, and Z coordinates, in addition to the "chunk" variable. These coordinates change as the player moves around. The player can know the chunk they are in by the variable "chunk".

In Bedrock Edition, when toggling fancy graphics, the world renders again, loading only the chunk the player is in for a split second, briefly showing the chunk boundaries. When the player changes the render distance rapidly, chunk barriers appear as a blue line.

Slime chunks[edit]

Slime chunks are specific chunks capable of spawning slimes below Y=40 regardless of Light. These chunks are otherwise same as all other chunks.

Java Edition[edit]

Slime chunks generate throughout the world (except in mushroom islands). 1 in 10 of all chunks is slime chunk. These slime chunks are determined pseudo-randomly by combining their chunk coordinates with the seed of the world:

Random rnd = new Random(
    seed +
    (int) (xPosition * xPosition * 0x4c1906) +
    (int) (xPosition * 0x5ac0db) + 
    (int) (zPosition * zPosition) * 0x4307a7L +
    (int) (zPosition * 0x5f24f) ^ 0x3ad8025f
);
return rnd.nextInt(10) == 0;

That is, using the chunk coordinates to help generate a seed, a random number between 0 and 9 inclusive is generated, and if that number is 0, the chunk can spawn slimes. To convert world coordinates to chunk coordinates, divide by 16 and round down. Note that xPosition and zPosition are 32-bit integers (ints).

Bedrock Edition[edit]

The slime chunk algorithm in Bedrock Edition is different from in Java Edition. The algorithm doesn't depend on the world seed, thus the chunks that slimes can naturally spawn in are the same for every world.[1]

History[edit]

This section needs expansion.
You can help by adding to it.
Java Edition pre-Classic
Cave game tech testThe precursors to chunks are showcased.
Java Edition Infdev
20100227Map height is not custom anymore. The chunk height has been changed to 128.
Java Edition
1.2.1The chunk height has been increased to 256.
1.14The method of chunk loading has changed.

Trivia[edit]

  • There are a possible fourteen trillion (14,062,500,000,000) real chunks that can be generated. There are 7.46×10244,700 possible chunks, excluding entities.
  • If a player stands in a chunk that has not generated yet, the world immediately becomes invisible until they are in a valid chunk. This does not happen if the Y coordinates are beyond the chunk boundaries.
  • In Bedrock Edition, if one of the sixteen 16×16×16 sections of a chunk doesn't have any blocks in it, placing a block there shows the same animation as a chunk loading. This bug makes the block that the player placed to turn to the same color of the sky in the direction the player is facing for about 1 second and starts fading away into the normal block texture. If the time is sunrise or sunset and the player places a block there, it actually changes colors constantly for 1 second if the player keeps bobbing their head up and down. The block also makes blocks behind it appear invisible.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. The Bedrock Edition slime chunk algorithm was reverse engineered by @protolambda and @jocopa3 and can be found on GitHub:[1][2]