Bitcoin Classic has been a point of controversy since its announcement. Taking on Bitcoin Core head-to-head, Classic proposes an immediate block size increase to 2 MB, with provisions for future increases. The block size debate has always been contentious, apt to erupt into name-calling and mudslinging. But now, with Core facing serious competition from Classic, this scalability issue may soon be forced to come to a head.
On February 22, 2015, reports surfaced of bitcoin mining pool Multipool.us opening a pool for Bitcoin Classic. Multipool.us dedicated an entire petahash of mining power to the Classic pool. Furthermore, according to BitcoinWisdom as of February 22, the entire Bitcoin network is running on slightly more than 1.5 petahash — which is actually a decline in power. Therefore, Multipool.us’ 1 petahash Classic pool has almost the same amount of mining power as the entire Core network.
However, this news isn’t as huge as it sounds. According to our report on Bitcoinist.net, these reported statistics for hashing power are likely not totally accurate, as the data coming from Multipool and others seem to display total network hashrate instead of the numbers on their individual pools.
Additionally, only 3 Bitcoin Classic blocks were mined between October 2015 and February 22 2016, which is hardly cause for concern among Core supporters. Classic’s block size increase will not activate until it gains a large majority of the Bitcoin network’s hashpower, and three mined blocks over the course of 4 months doesn’t exactly spell out pending success for Classic.
It still stands, though, that Core hashpower seems to be falling in the face of Multipool.us’ dedication of a massive amount of mining power to the Bitcoin Classic BIP, which is certainly cause for attention.
Just a day later, on February 23, we reported on the Bitcoin Core 0.12.0 release, which brought some new features and improvements to the Core protocol in the face of growing competition from Classic.
The biggest improvement made in this client update a 700% increase in signature validation speed. This speed increase was achieved by decoupling Core from OpenSSL and replacing it with Libsecp256k1, a validation solution that has been in development for 5 years.
The new Opt-in Replace-by-Fee feature allows senders set up transactions that can be replaced in the future with payments that include a higher fee. This new Core feature lets users minimize fees while maximizing chances of transfers getting included in the next block, since fees will only be raised if it is needed to get the transaction picked up by the network. This feature improves one of the biggest inconveniences of the Bitcoin network, in which transactions can get delayed for long periods of time due to the fees offered on the payments being too low, pushing senders to re-send their payments with fees that could be too high.
These new features, among many others, have made it theoretically easier to run a Bitcoin node, which gives Core an advantage as it faces off with Classic, which is quickly growing in popularity.
On the 24th, a day after the new Core client release, 5 North American Bitcoin ATM operators switched their machines from Core to Classic, striking a small yet visible blow to Core’s network dominance. Sumbits, Tobitcoin, Herocoin, Coinucopia and Bitlove all decided to switch their ATMs to classic, a move that affected 29 machines across North America.
Block size drama surrounding Blockstream increased tensions even further between the Core and Classic camps this past week. Popular mining pool F2Pool announced that it would withdraw support from the February 21 consensus roundtable meeting unless Blockstream CEO Adam Back clarifies his position in the blocksize debate.
Back, head of the company that has been accused by community members of trying to take over the Bitcoin ecosystem, changed his official position title from CEO to “Individual” just when the February 21 roundtable seemed to reach consensus.
This move offended F2Pool, who says they felt betrayed and cheated by Back’s “sneaky” approach to influencing the block size debate. The move is confusing; why wouldn’t Back want to represent his company when voicing his stance on the block size? Given Blockstream’s perceived reputation of trying to control the discussion, Back’s decision to designate himself as an “individual” rather than a CEO may be seen as a sneaky way to let his company influence the debate without bringing unwanted publicity.
At any rate, Back’s decision stirred up even more drama surrounding the block size debate, possibly disrupting a potential consensus on how to tackle the scalability issue.
The Classic-centric news stories of this past week show that the discussion is far from over, and there will probably be a lot more anger and argument before a true consensus is reached. Plus, with Classic apparently gaining more support by the day, the drama may soon come to a head, forcing a scalability solution — whether it is reached peacefully or not.
What do you think about all this Core vs. Classic drama? Let us know in the comments below!
Evan is the Senior Editor of Bitcoin.com. He has a bachelor's degree in History with minors in Economics and Political Science. When he's not acting like he knows what he's doing in the newsroom, Evan is most likely playing video games. Follow Evan on Twitter @EvanFaggart.
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