Bitcoin’s price jumped by around $30 yesterday shortly after it became clear that Bitcoin Unlimited had overtaken segwit in hashrate share.
Although there may have been other factors, especially an increase in global uncertainty due to some of Trump’s policies, the timing of the sudden increase closely coincided with Bitcoin Unlimited surpassing segwit, standing today at 23% of the hashrate while segwit is at around 21%.
The new grassroots client has been gaining increasing support with ViaBTC, an open Bitcoin Unlimited pool, rising to 12% of the network hashrate in the past 24 hours, up from around 8-9%.
If Antpool or F2Pool start mining with Bitcoin Unlimited, its hashrate nears 40%. A significant psychological event which may raise anticipations for an upgrade of the network capacity that can currently only handle 2.5-3 transactions per second.
However, F2Pool’s co-founder, Wang Chun, told CCN that he has no plans to upgrade. Jihan Wu, Antpool’s founder, used to be very vocal in asking for a higher transaction capacity, but has not recently made any comments on BU. In reply to my question on whether he intends to upgrade to either Bitcoin Unilimited or segwit, Wu told CCN:
“The protocol debate is not my priority. I need to focus on BITMAIN’s own business these days.”
Bitcoin Unlimited has attracted a number of developers, including Peter Tschipper, Andrea Suisani, Andrew Stone, Tom Harding, Dagur Johannsson, Amaury Sèchet, Tom Zander, Jerry Chan, ftrader as well as many others. They also port changes from Bitcoin Core developers who can indirectly be considered as contributors.
By activity, it appears to be roughly half of Bitcoin Core’s, after just one year of being established. Both have encountered difficulties. Bitcoin Core has unintentionally chain split twice, in 2013 and in 2015. Bitcoin Unlimited recently had a quickly fixed bug which caused one forked block.
Currently, both clients are compatible, but if Bitcoin Unlimited reaches more than 51%, preferably 75% or as good as 100%, the network will be able to create blocks that provide higher transaction capacity in line with demand as has been the case for much of bitcoin’s existence. Ending the transaction backlogs.
Some are strongly opposed to a capacity increase through raising the maxblocksize, suggesting that segregated witnesses (segwit) is a better solution. It is a proposal that many expected to be adopted, but segwit has stalled for the past two months with its hashrate now seemingly falling. Moreover, the founders of two mining pools – ViaBTC and BTC.TOP – have stated they will not adopt segwit. As such, it’s unlikely it can reach its threshold of 95%.
Bitcoin Core developers have not proposed any further suggestions on how transaction capacity can be increased except for a recommendation by Luke-Jr to reduce maxblocksize by 70%. Some Bitcoin Core developers have further threatened a chain split if maxblocksize is increased. In reply, BTC.TOP’s founder has stated that $100 million is set aside to attack a smaller hashrate chain, ensuring a chain split is unlikely or difficult, if at all possible.
It appears that some Bitcoin Core developers are happy with no increase at all, which many would consider as the worst possible outcome of this almost two years long debate. On the other hand, the founder of BTC.TOP says that other miners are “just waiting for a suitable time.” While ViaBTC’s founder says that “BU has the support of Bitmain and F2pool, they have said privately they will switch to BU.”
They may be waiting for nodes to upgrade, which have been increasing recently, or for Bitcoin Core to propose an acceptable solution, but as some are against a maxblocksize increase, that may be unlikely. They may be further waiting to see more testing in Bitcoin Unlimited which has now been running for more than a year and is used by around five mining pools in production.
Currently, F2Pool’s and Antpool’s hashrate appears to be decreasing with the hashrate of BTC.TOP and ViaBTC on the rise, giving Bitcoin Unlimited a level of momentum that has not been seen since this debate began.
Image from Shutterstock.
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