Scheduled Scaling Updates for the Bitcoin Network Are Getting Closer

scalingOver the past six months, the bitcoin scaling debate has been going on relentlessly as many cryptocurrency proponents are trying to figure the best solution to improve the network’s fees and transaction throughput. There have been many ideas brought to the table, but this summer there are some specific plans that all bitcoin holders should

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scaling

Over the past six months, the bitcoin scaling debate has been going on relentlessly as many cryptocurrency proponents are trying to figure the best solution to improve the network’s fees and transaction throughput. There have been many ideas brought to the table, but this summer there are some specific plans that all bitcoin holders should keep on their radar.

Also Read: 70 Percent of the Bitcoin Hashrate Begins Signaling Segwit2x

 Bitcoin Scaling Changes and Three Possibilities

The block size debate has been going on since Satoshi Nakamoto put a 1MB limit on blocks in 2010, which only allows for a certain amount of transactions per block. More recently the ‘community’ has been divided talking about a variety of ideas that could help blocks hold more transactions as bitcoin becomes increasingly more popular.

One of the ideas right now is Segregated Witness (Segwit), a soft fork protocol designed to remove witness data from transactions which theoretically will add more space for additional transactions. Then the other side of the community wants to implement a hard fork that would change the 1MB block size limit to either 2MB, 4MB, 8MB, or even unlimited block space.

For a long time now Bitcoin proponents have yet to implement any of these plans. There has been a stalemate for quite some time between businesses, users, miners, and many individuals involved in the bitcoin economy. Now certain members of the bitcoin community seem to be moving a lot closer to attempts towards activating their plans on the bitcoin network.

UASF (user activated soft fork)

Scheduled Scaling Updates for the Bitcoin Network Are Getting CloserUSAF or BIP 148 stands for a “user activated soft fork,” which is an idea that proposes full nodes can activate Segwit on the bitcoin network. The concept was first introduced in February by an anonymous pseudonym named Shaolinfry. The creator of UASF believes Segwit can be implemented on the network by utilizing the vote of full nodes similar to the P2SH soft fork (BIP16) that took place in the past. However, BIP 148 is a fork that will also require miners to deploy the existing Segwit protocol.

‘Flag Day’ — Prior to August 1st, 2017, miners should either; update their node software to a BIP148-enforcing version; or run a BIP148 border node to filter out invalid blocks, and update their existing mining software to produce blocks with version 1 bit enabled, to vote for Segwit activation,” explains the UASF Working Group website.

On forums and social media, there seems to be a good following of people who support the UASF movement, while others would disagree and say there isn’t much BIP 148 support at all. As far as node count is concerned, there are 918 nodes signaling BIP 148 out of 7441 total full bitcoin nodes at the time of writing. The UASF Working Group website and many others within the community have also admitted to the fact that UASF can split the bitcoin blockchain.

Scheduled Scaling Updates for the Bitcoin Network Are Getting Closer
UASF node count as of June 24, 2017.

UAHF (user activated hard fork)

Due to this concern on June 15 the ASIC manufacturer and mining pool operator, Bitmain announced a protection plan for this event. The Beijing-based company revealed its UAHF contingency plan (user activated hard fork) because the company believes “the UASF chain presents a risk of the original chain being wiped out.” Bitmain believes a UASF poses a threat to the network and will support a defensive hard fork and are also producing replay protection software. The company states it will have software built for this contingency plan by the end of this month.

“Currently, there are at least three client development teams working on the code of the spec,” explains Bitmain. “All of them want to stay quiet and away from the propaganda and troll army of certain companies. They will announce themselves when they feel ready for it. Users will be able to install the software and decide whether to join the UAHF. The software is expected to be ready before July 1st, and it will be live on testnet by then.”

We wish that New York agreement will be developed and carried out well. It is the last hope for Bitcoin to scale unitedly in the face of the BIP 148 threat. We will try our best to deploy and activate it as soon as possible.

Segwit2x

The next plan on the horizon is called Segwit2x, an idea that mixes Segwit with a 2MB hard fork. Segwit2x was originally designed by Sergio Demian Lerner of Rootstock and has evolved into a pact made at the Consensus Conference — Otherwise known as the “New York Agreement.” The covenant was announced by Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group which said 58 bitcoin-based companies backed the plan alongside 83 percent of the network hashrate as well.

Scheduled Summer Scaling Plans for the Bitcoin Network Are Getting Close

Since then a working group has been building on the project led by bitcoin developer and Bloq CEO, Jeff Garzik. The group released the alpha code for Segwit2x on June 16, and since then a vast majority of pool operators have started signaling support for the protocol upgrade. Segwit2x scaling is currently being signaled by mining pools such as Bixin, BTC.top, F2pool, 1hash, Viabtc, BW.com, Bitclub, Antpool, BTCC, and others. Furthermore, the Segwit2x working group has also been working to make certain parts of the UASF compatible with its plan.

Scheduled Summer Scaling Plans for the Bitcoin Network Are Getting Close
Segwit2x Intention Signaling is 64% on June 24, 2017.

As of right now the signals mostly show ‘intent to support’ the protocol, in the end, eighty percent of the hashrate must signal bit 4 which essentially will lock in BIP 91. If this happens, they must continue the support through 336 blocks in order to activate Segwit. Then a 2MB hard fork following a similar process 12,960 blocks later (3 months) is planned to follow.

“The prediction is that miners activate rapidly. Therefore, block 485218 becomes the hard fork point. “+3 months” is the fallback safety measure, in case activation is slower than predicted,” explains Jeff Garzik.

No One Can Predict The Outcome of These Events

People right now including the developers of these plans cannot predict the exact results of these planned events. UASF supporters hope the majority hashrate will follow their lead creating a snowball effect towards what they believe will be the prominent chain. Others are skeptical of Segwit2x and think that if Segwit is activated the other half of the bargain will not be fulfilled. There are also those who vehemently oppose both of these ideas for one reason or another.

Both of these plans may or may not happen but are planned by supporters to take place over the course of the next three months. If they do happen, ordinary users should know that if they hold their own private keys in a non-custodial wallet, they don’t need to do anything. Those holding money on trading platforms will have to deal with the exchange’s decisions.

What do you think about the scaling plans slated to happen over the next few months? Let us know in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Pixabay, Coin Dance, and Salty Lemon.org. 


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70 Percent of the Bitcoin Hashrate Begins Signaling Segwit2x

SignalingOn June 16 the alpha code for the scaling solution Segwit2x was released to the public following a large number of mining pools having vocally supported the plan. Since then a large majority of miners who back the Segwit2x roadmap have started signaling with their hashrate. Also Read: Australian Opposition Leader Believes Bitcoin is Fueling

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Signaling

On June 16 the alpha code for the scaling solution Segwit2x was released to the public following a large number of mining pools having vocally supported the plan. Since then a large majority of miners who back the Segwit2x roadmap have started signaling with their hashrate.

Also Read: Australian Opposition Leader Believes Bitcoin is Fueling Terrorism   

The New York Agreement Moves Forward With the Segwit2x Alpha Release and Significant Miner Support

Over the past few weeks, the topic of scaling the Bitcoin network and the recent Segwit2x plan has been a hot subject amongst bitcoiners. A few days ago Bitcoin.com reported on the many Chinese mining companies who have agreed to back the Segwit2x protocol. Alongside this, the Digital Currency Group’s Barry Silbert who organized the New York agreement has been sharing information on the progress every day via Twitter.

On June 18 the mining pool Bitfury began signaling for the New York agreement by using the call letters “NYA” in its mined blocks. The very next day a large majority of miners have also started showing support for the Segwit2x plan. As of right now, mining pools who support the agreement by signaling NYA in their blocks are Antpool, Bitcoin.com, Bixin, BTC.com, BTC.top, F2pool, Viabtc, and 1hash. The amount of support for the Segwit2x agreement is close to 70 percent of the network hashrate.

70 Percent of the Bitcoin Hashrate Begins Signaling Segwit2x
The current percentage of blocks signaling Segwit2x according to Blockchain.info at 10 am EST 6/19/17.

What Will Happen If Segwit2x Reaches Consensus?

70 Percent of the Bitcoin Hashrate Begins Signaling Segwit2x
The organizer of Segwit2x, Barry Silbert, has been tweeting about the protocols progress daily.

The Segwit2x idea was first introduced by Rootstock’s Chief Scientist, Sergio Demian Lerner. Since then many miners and businesses within the bitcoin industry signed a pact during the Consensus conference in New York last month. The code itself is being worked on by a Segwit2x working group with Bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik leading the way. Since the alpha code has been launched mining pools are now signaling their support for the protocol implementation.

A recent Reddit public service announcement (PSA) that details how Segwit2x will actually work gives a great explanation of the entire process. Essentially if enough hashrate continues to support Segwit2x and reaches 80 percent over a 336 block signaling period that will lock in Segregated Witness. The protocol will then activate after another 336 blocks later for those running Segwit2x implementations. The Reddit thread also explains how the following hard fork (HF) after Segwit will be implemented on the main network.

Then, exactly 12,960 blocks (~3 months) after Segwit activates on the Segwit2x clients, the Segwit2x 2MB hardfork will automatically activate on any/all nodes that are still running Segwit2x at that time. That hardfork, if it maintains 75+% of the hashpower at the time of its activation, will force every other node in the entire network to update to SegWit2x (or Segwit2x compatibility), or be forked off the network.

Bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik also adds his two cents to the PSA.   

“Very close on 2M HF activation,” explains Garzik. “The prediction is that miners activate rapidly. Therefore, block 485218 (BIP102_FORK_MIN_HEIGHT) becomes the hard fork point. “+3 months” is the fallback safety measure, in case activation is slower than predicted.”

70 Percent of the Bitcoin Hashrate Begins Signaling Segwit2x
Bitfury began signaling for Segwit2x on June 18.

The Possibility of a 4MB Increase and 8,000 to 10,000 Transactions Per Block

On forums and social media, there are quite a bit of people within the bitcoin community on both sides of the debate who agree with the Segwit2x plan. On the other hand, there are also those who vehemently disagree with the idea of this type of compromise. However it seems a vast majority of mining pools, and many bitcoin-centric businesses are moving forward with Segwit2x despite forum commentary.

The protocol is nearly identical to Core’s 0.14.1 client with some minor changes for signaling Segwit2x and the following activation of a soft fork and hard fork across the network. If consensus is reached, block size results would be roughly around 4MB as opposed to 1MB and will hopefully process 8,000 to 10,000 transactions per block. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the New York agreement as it seems to have gained more ground than the Hong Kong agreement in the past. It’s also worth noting that normal bitcoin users who hold their private keys will not have to do anything during the process except watch the procedure unfold.

What do you think about the Segwit2x plan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images via Shutterstock, Blockchain.info, Pixabay, and Twitter. 


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Jeff Garzik Asks Community if Asicboost Optimization Should be Disabled

Asicboost optimizationJeff Garzik posted a section to his Bitcoin Improvement proposal (BIP) June 1 on Github. He asked the community if the Asicboost optimization should be banned or removed entirely from the Segwit-2mb plan. He brought up the issue to determine if the community wants the patented feature to be disabled or rendered ineffective.  Also read: Segregated Witness and the

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Asicboost optimization

Jeff Garzik posted a section to his Bitcoin Improvement proposal (BIP) June 1 on Github. He asked the community if the Asicboost optimization should be banned or removed entirely from the Segwit-2mb plan. He brought up the issue to determine if the community wants the patented feature to be disabled or rendered ineffective. 

Also read: Segregated Witness and the Possibility of Patent Infringement

Jeff Garzik Asks Community if Asicboost Optimization Should be Disabled

The addendum of his proposal read, “A patented mining chip hardware feature “ASICBOOST” has been the subject of debate and controversy in the community. This issue is raised for the WG to consider testing protocol/software changes that ban/disable/render ineffective this hardware optimization.”

Garzik also quoted Bitmain’s CEO Jihan Wu, who said he would be willing to work toward the ban of Asicboost if the community desired it.

Asicboost is being repetitively mentioned in the reddit. Btc1 can take a very clear stance to help to ban it if community emotion desire it.

Community Initially Thought Garzik Wanted to Keep Asicboost Optimization

Immediately after Garzik raised concerns about keeping or Jeff Garzik Asks Community if Asicboost Optimization Should be Disabledremoving Asicboost, the community responded with confusion. Even though some have said the current Segwit-2mb proposal acts as an “olive branch” or extension of peace, dissenters have still questioned the motivations of some developers, including Garzik’s.

They wondered if aspects of Asicboost will still exist in either overt or covert form after Segwit activates. For instance, a few commentators wondered if Garzik was purposely being pedantic or unclear to conceal some kind of underhanded scheme to keep Asicboost.

Github User lichtamberg said, “Does this mean the prevention of covert asicboost is not included (which segwit in its current form prevents by default) in the agreement? And therefore has to be removed (because you have to remove it by purpose if it should not be part of the agreement)? PLEASE PROVIDE A CLEAR ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION OR THIS WHOLE AGREEMENT-PROCESS IS DEAD RIGHT NOW.”

User Cobra-Bitcoin provided similar accusations, “@jgarzik I don’t understand why you have to use such weasel words and be so pedantic. Just answer @hmsln’s question with a simple yes/no answer. This isn’t difficult. If you keep being suspicious, people will assume that you’re going to alter Segwit in strange ways to preserve Asicboost for the financial benefit of a certain person…”

Even though users considered Garzik position unclear, he answered the question about Asicboost still existing in a way that satisfied most users. He said,

The WG agreed to “segwit AND 2M”, and that what we are focused on delivering. To the extent that current segwit disables asicboost, or not, that remains unchanged and unmodified. This issue asks the question, therefore, do additional changes need to be added, to further ban/disable/render inert asicboost?

No Clear Consensus…Yet

Garzik raised the aforesaid question about banning Asicboost for the community after he proposed a new version of Lerner’s original 2mb Segwit plan last week. Indeed, more and more of these plans have been circulating in the community, causing a dynamic discussion about many different alternative solutions.

Still, there is no clear consensus yet, but continued open communication and clarity about whether Asicboost will be included or banned may determine how well the community continues to cooperate well into the future. Garzik’s straightforward answer seemed to ease some of the escalating tension between warring bitcoin camps.

Do you think Asicboost should be banned or removed? Is it an optimization or a hack? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and bits.media


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