Tech 26 October 2018Erik Gibbs
Bitmain determined to bury crypto industry, releases controversial mining feature
Bitmain is already dealing with a number of issues—allegations of cooked books, a decline in its market share, increased competition—so it’s a little surprising that it would decide to continue with a planned upgrade that has been anything but welcome by the cryptocurrency mining community. However, that’s exactly what it has done with its “Overt AsicBoost” Antminer firmware upgrade.
AsicBoost has not been received well by the majority of cryptocurrency miners. Some Bitcoin Core (BTC) developers have argued that the increased efficiency claimed by the upgrade could lead to a complete breakdown of the BTC network. One individual, Kyle Torpey, stated when AsicBoost was first mentioned last year, “I hope that even those of us who would strongly prefer that ASICBOOST be blocked completely can come together to support a protective measure that separates concerns by inhibiting the covert use of it that potentially blocks protocol improvements.”
The “upgrade” has also been slammed by cryptocurrency mining pool Slush Pool. It said in a Twitter post on October 22, “Dear Miners, we strongly recommend you DON’T UPGRADE your S9 devices with the new Bitmain firmware. It is not compatible with BIP310 standard and as a result also not compatible with @slush_pool. We are working hard on providing our own fix asap and will keep you posted.”
Dear Miners, we strongly recommend you DON'T UPGRADE your S9 devices with the new Bitmain firmware. It is not compatible with BIP310 standard and as a result also not compatible with @slush_pool. We are working hard on providing our own fix asap and will keep you posted.
— Slush Pool ⚡️ (@slush_pool) October 22, 2018
Perhaps Bitmain’s plan all along is to destroy cryptocurrency. It continues to make moves that put in jeopardy the ecosystem, claiming expansion capabilities that, if they don’t succeed, could wipe out entire towns. The company has had more than a year to listen to the mining community—the backbone of cryptocurrency—and make changes that would help the industry flourish, not falter. If AsicBoost is as damaging as developers have indicated, it doesn’t bode well for the community.
In an announcement about the upgrade, Bitmain stated, “Initially, we decided against activating this mathematical function in mining hardware produced by us, largely because of the legal uncertainty surrounding the use of AsicBoost. As an organization, we didn’t want to violate patent laws or act in any way that was untoward.”
That last statement is almost comical. Bitmain has already been accused of stealing intellectual property and is having to answer to charges of patent infringement in court. It would seem there are no limits to how far the company will go in order to try and brainwash the crypto community.
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