Bitcoin Unlimited members approve Gigablock Testnet for larger block sizes

It’s all systems go for nChain and Bitcoin Unlimited’s (BU) Gigablock Testnet Initiative that seeks to determine how large blocks Bitcoin can handle.

BU members voted over the weekend in favor of the initiative, otherwise known as BUIP065, whose goal is to identify the bottlenecks that may obstruct the network’s scalability.

The project is intended to run for five years, with blockchain technology research and development outfit nChain and BU committing to fund a budget of up to $1.5 million. Professor Victoria Lemieux from the University of British Columbia in Canada will provide additional research support in line with the university’s Blockchain UBC project.

The Gigablock Testnet has four specific objectives, which include setting up and maintaining a global test network capable of supporting up to 1GB blocks and sustained Visa-level transaction throughput (3,000 TPS) on the Bitcoin network.

To do this, new mining nodes will be set up in Beijing, Bangalore, Sao Paulo, Sydney and Vancouver, in addition to the existing network of mining nodes in Toronto, Frankfurt, Munich and Washington State.

“This larger Gigablock Testnet can be ‘stress tested’ at very high levels of transaction throughput, [and] perform continuous experiments related to on-chain scaling on that test network,” according to the group.

The initiative will build on the testing work already done by nChain and BU. Separately, nChain has already been able to test 32MB blocks, and BU’s “nolnet” testing network has successfully tested 64MB blocks—all significantly larger than the current 8MB cap on Bitcoin Cash, and far larger than a recent Bitcoin SegWit main-net block of about 1.3MB.

Scaling improvements realized through the Gigablock Testnet Initiative are expected to be implemented first on Bitcoin Cash, according to Bitcoin Unlimited.

“We anticipate that results from ongoing experiments carried out on this test network will add to the growing body of evidence that bitcoin can indeed scale into a functioning payment network for the world, following the design laid out in the original Bitcoin white paper written by Satoshi Nakamoto,” said Andrew Clifford, president of Bitcoin Unlimited.

Although they are the project founders, BU and nChain intend for the Gigablock Testnet to eventually become a self-sustaining resource of the bitcoin community, with contributors from across the world.

“Many people believe the Bitcoin network can power faster transactions and enterprise-level capabilities,” said Stefan Matthews, chief executive officer of the nChain Group. “We hope our efforts with BU inspire even more Bitcoin ecosystem players to work together—rather than fight each other—to advance Bitcoin’s role as the dominant cryptocurrency.”

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