Crypto Mining News & Updates

ASIC Booster from Bitmain. Released under Huge Pressure

Cryptocurrency mining giant #Bitmain has published a #firmware update that allows bitcoin miners to activate “overt AsicBoost,” a #technological upgrade that #provides significant cost savings over conventional #mining setups.

Bitmain Firmware Enables Overt #AsicBoost

Bitmain released the patch just days after #braiins, the software #development group that operates #Slush Pool, revealed that it had verified that Bitmain’s #Antminer #S9 hardware is capable of supporting overt #AsicBoost, though the #manufacturer had purposely disabled it by default. The group further stated that it would integrate overt #AsicBoost support into a future #firmware update for Braiins OS, the open-source #ASIC mining system it launched in #September.

Invented by Timo #Hanke in collaboration with Sergio #Lerner, the patented AsicBoost #technology reduces the amount of work that #SHA256 miners must #perform to produce a hash.

AsicBoost can be implemented either covertly or overtly, with covert #AsicBoost being more controversial as it incentivizes #miners to produce small or empty #blocks. It’s more efficient to implement the #technology overtly, and overt #usage also has the benefit of not #incentivizing miners to produce empty #blocks. However, covert #AsicBoost has the #benefit of making it difficult to identify which #miners are using it, which would be attractive to #miners who cannot activate it overtly for #legal or other #reasons.

Last year’s #activation of Segregated Witness (SegWit) on #Bitcoin made it much more difficult to use covert #AsicBoost effectively. Critics accused #Bitmain of employing covert #AsicBoost prior to the #fork, but the firm denied the allegation and a report from #BitMEX Research said that it was “difficult to draw any firm conclusions” from blockchain #data.

Bitmain: “No One Has Exclusive Right to #AsicBoost”

bitmain bitcoin miner Antminer S9

In today’s announcement, #Bitmain explained that its initial decision to#block overt #AsicBoost came as a #result of the legal controversy surrounding the use of #AsicBoost, whether overt or not.

Though invented by #Hanke, the patent associated with #AsicBoost was later sold to a #company called Little #Dragon Technology. In March, the #company made AsicBoost available through the Blockchain Defensive Patent License (BDPL) #framework to discourage #patent aggression and protect the interests of Bitcoin.

The firm explained:

“We believe #AsicBoost is such an important an innovative #patent that, if licensed defensively, can become a #force for good to protect #decentralization in Bitcoin. At this point, it is clear that covert #AsicBoost does not serve the #interests of Bitcoin due to the negative #incentives outlined, however, version-rolling #AsicBoost has none of these #drawbacks, and is additionally more #efficient than covert merkle grinding.”

Under the license, #BDPL members may use overt #AsicBoost, on the condition that they make their patents available through the #BDPL, as well. According to the BDPL #website, current license users are Little Dragon #Technology, #Halong Mining, #QRF Solutions Pte Ltd, and #Whalechain Technology Co. Ltd. Bitmain, which has been accused of #patent aggression, has not joined the BDPL.

However, #Bitmain now says that it has received legal #opinion that “there isn’t and may never be a patent right over #AsicBoost,” removing — in its view — any #restriction on activating this #technology, which was built into the #BM1387 chip used by the #Antminer R4, S9i, S9j, T9, and T9+.

“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….

“With regard to #patent rights, we continue to respect third #parties’ IP right and take actions accordingly. Based on legal opinions from various #jurisdictions, we believe that there isn’t and may never be a #patent right over #AsicBoost. Thus, all #miners should be entitled to make their own choice on whether to use #AsicBoost #technology without anybody having an exclusive #right over it.”

According to #braiins, the activation of overt AsicBoost will provide #Antminer S9s with 13% in energy savings, providing bitcoin miners with a #significant competitive edge in an industry where #profit margins are growing #thinner by the #day.

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