It is evident major changes will come to the bitcoin ecosystem as we know it today. No one knows for sure what the future may bring, and different contingency plans are being drafted as we peak. One post on Bitcointalk talks about developing an alternative proof-of-work algorithm for bitcoin moving forward. An intriguing concept, although there is still a lot of work to be done.
Upgrading Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work Algorithm
On paper, it sounds rather ridiculous to develop an upgraded Bitcoin proof-of-work algorithm. Considering how mining is the backbone of bitcoin, there is no real need to address the algorithm right now. Then again, researching the possibilities in this regard is never a wasted effort, even if there is no guarantee of seeing this upgraded algorithm go live on the main net anytime soon.
Some people feel bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm needs to be revamped in order to get rid of the people supporting Bitcoin Unlimited. That is a rather strong sentiment, to say the least, as there are many other reasons as to why such a switch can be considered in the future. For the time being, this project is nothing more than a concept looking for additional input from developers and bitcoin enthusiasts.
A prototype of how this proof-of-work algorithm can be implemented is already available on GitHub, developed by luke-jr. An official BIP is still in the works as we speak, although no official release date has been announced at this time. Having the support of a renowned Bitcoin Core developer is quite significant for this project, as it goes to show there is at least one person thinking about what changes might be needed to advance bitcoin.
One company in particular who showed equivocal opposition to this possible change is Bitfury. In a recent set of tweets, the mining group’s Vice Chairman George Kikvadze, fired some shots on twitter threatening to sue open source developers (Peter Todd) if they move forward with the proposal.
According to the Bitcointalk thread, the main reason for working on this project is to wrest control over the bitcoin network from Bitmain. The company is one of the largest mining manufacturers, and their mining pool represents 15% of all hashpower. However, the company plans to launch a new mining facility that is capable of housing enough mining equipment to control 45% of the bitcoin network. Although it is unclear if this is the company’s goal, a contingency plan is direly needed, just in case.
The proposal found on Github suggests using the Keccak algorithm for proof-of-work. Contrary to popular belief, Keccak is actually ASIC-friendly, meaning dedicated miners could still be used to mine the new algorithm. However, current ASICs mining SHA256 will not be useful in mining Keccak as new hardware will be needed to be built in order to mine it. Although it has not been confirmed an algorithm change will be necessary to ensure bitcoin is not in the hands of centralized [Chinese] entities, it would represent quite an intriguing change. Do keep in mind the team working on this project is looking for feedback and testers first and foremost.
It is quite interesting to think of a proof-of-work algorithm stage for bitcoin. In the early days, CPU mining was the way to go. Later on, CPU’s got replaced by GPU and FPGA’s, whereas ASIC mining hardware is king now Going back to a world where both CPU and GPU mining make economic sense would help decentralized bitcoin mining once again. Rest assured not everyone will look favorably upon this project, even though it will be interesting to keep an eye on.
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