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AsicBoost Dominates Bitcoin Mining, Solving Bitmain’s 2017 Controversy

Bitcoin (BTC) miners openly using AsicBoost are now comprising 63% of its network hashrate. This vindicates community concerns from 2017 that accused Bitmain of using the “covert” version of AsicBoost.

The statistic was highlighted on March 9 by Bitmex Research, building on a similar report from December 2018. Though the overt AsicBoost was only used by 30% of miners at the time, the analysts argued that the 2017 controversy was largely settled. They wrote:

“If covert AsicBoost was used by some miners to obtain a secret advantage, with significant adverse effects on Bitcoin, this problem now appears mostly solved.”

Bitmain was the target of strong criticism from notable Bitcoiners in 2017 after it allegedly introduced covert AsicBoost into its hardware. The company was also chastised for opposing the network’s Segregated Witness (SegWit) upgrade — a proposal which would have limited the usefulness of their covert AsicBoost tactics.

What is AsicBoost?

AsicBoost is the name of a technique developed by cryptography experts, Timo Hanke and Sergio Lerner. The solution was patented under a framework named “Blockchain Defensive Patent License,” which was specifically designed to limit competitive advantages in mining and preserve network security.

In a Proof of Work system, miners must generate a cryptographic hash of some important block information, which is contained in the block header. In order to make it a difficult task, the hash must satisfy the “difficulty” condition, which generally requires it to be lower than a certain number. Since hash functions are completely unpredictable, the only way to satisfy the condition is to simply try many different combinations of input data. Read More...