Segwit Reaches 80% of the Bitcoin Hashrate as Activation Looms

Journalist:
July 19, 2017

Bitcoin miners have seemingly made a decision to activate segwit with some 80% of the hashrate currently voting for the protocol upgrade with other miners expected to follow soon.

Antpool/Bitmain, the biggest bitcoin mining pool, is currently voting for segwit. As is Bixin, BW, BTCC, Bitfury, ViaBTC, BTC.TOP and some smaller pools.

F2Pool is expected to follow soon, as will, most likely, Slushpool, which has apparently been recently visiting Blockstream in San Francisco, but made no announcement regarding the nature of the meeting, so it is not clear what exactly came out of it.

At least one of the pools will probably be needed for segwit to safely lock in due to bitcoin’s block variance which can mean that despite having 80% of the hashrate, only 75% of blocks or, if very unlucky, only 60% of blocks are found.

As such, it’s not clear what either of the pools are waiting for as miners have turned the below chart into orange with only a few greens now and there mainly from F2Pool and Slushpool.

Orange miners voting for segwit. Others still not upgraded – image source xbt.eu

Miners need to keep the segwit hashrate at 80% for the next two-three days in order to lock-in segwit, which is then to activate in two-three weeks, but variance is already sending it below the threshold on occasion, so it is not clear whether it will indeed lock-in.

If it does, then the 80% segwit miners will fork the 20% non-segwit miners off the network, something which long has been argued by Bitcoin Core would lead to a chain-split, but it appears there is less concern this time because the 20% miners are expected to upgrade.

That means bitcoin might very soon implement segwit after more than two years of heated scalability debate which has in many ways transformed the bitcoin landscape and may transform bitcoin itself for decades to come.

Bitcoin’s current hashrate distribution – image from blockchain.info

As far as the short term is concerned, its upgrade will allow the network to have twice more transactions capacity than current levels provided the rest of the infrastructure upgrades to take advantage of segwit’s capacity increase.

Thereafter, Bitcoin Core developers have plans to increase capacity further by compressing transactions through a number of methods. While at the same time waiting for the Lightning Network (LN), which remains in heavy development as coders are still trying to figure out how to connect LN end-points through routing.

The unknown question is what will some big-blockers, who are strongly opposed to segwit and the Bitcoin Core roadmap, do. Some suggest their only real choice is to back ethereum’s on-chain scalability, but some are apparently thinking of splitting off into a minority coin to be called Bitcoin Cash generated through a new client called BitcoinABC which largely follows the approach of Bitcoin Unlimited.

It remains to be seen how much traction Bitcoin Cash, with the ticker of BCC according to a statement by ViaBTC, will gain in the coming days and thereafter. Especially as they would create their own network, with their own chain, nodes, and miners, thus would need to be added by the current infrastructure just like any other coin.

Something which some big blockers consider as admitting defeat, while others suggest it is best to let the free market judge, without waiting any further. So potentially ending the debate in a split of sorts. With bitcoin and the BTC ticker on one hand, while, on the other, the minority coin re-brands to Bitcoin Cash and the BCC ticker, at least initially.

Which all translates to the next few weeks may be very interesting for bitcoin as the currency reaches a decision on its future direction. A decision that may be very historical indeed.

Feartued image from Shutterstock.

Andrew Quentson @Aquentson

Feel free to contact me at andrewquentson@gmail.com with any information you may have.