Bitcoin Cash Hard Forks Blockchain In Bid to Ease Mining Difficulties

Bitcoin cash appears to be successfully navigating a planned hard fork.

At press time, the majority of the network nodes (roughly 82 percent) have transitioned to new software (version 0.16.0 or later) that includes rules aimed at making the protocol’s reward distribution more attractive to the miners that secure its blockchain.

Executed at roughly 21:00 UTC, the new version of the bitcoin cash blockchain has since amassed six blocks, while none have yet been mined on the older network. The results suggest that, while still possible, the fork will pass without the creation of a competing cryptocurrency.

As reported by CoinDesk, today’s hard fork looks to switch the protocol to a different mining algorithm that will favorably adjust how hard it is for miners to create new blocks roughly every 600 seconds.

The idea is that by doing so, bitcoin cash will avoid the sudden changes in difficulty that have encouraged large numbers of miners to switch frequently between the bitcoin and bitcoin cash blockchains, migrating to whatever version is offering the most in terms of rewards.

Kept intact will be the rules that caused the creation of the cryptocurrency, which hard forked off of the main bitcoin blockchain in August by way of code that increased its block size to 8 MB, up from 1 MB on bitcoin.

Smooth upgrade

But it’s the necessity of the mining change that has many thinking the upgrade will be smooth.

In remarks, Haipo Yang and Jiang Zhuoer, two major mining pool operators, said they didn’t expect the change to be contentious. Other users, speaking in WeChat channels dedicated to the cryptocurrency, voiced similar statements of support for the measure.

This is due in part to the mining algorithm, which they acknowledged as having produced wild fluctuations in hash rate in the past. Developers have largely agreed.

According to the blog post outlining the hard fork and the updated software, the current rule is “problematic because it prevents consistently fast confirmations for users, and radically shifts the coin issuance schedule.”

In this way, Juan Garavaglia, a developer working to coordinate the fork sought to label it as successful, indicating his optimism that the majority of the bitcoin cash network will update.

“For [the] fork… economically relevant and miners [nodes] are the critical ones,” he said.

Already, startups including Yours and Ledger have migrated software.

Cash and carry

Should the software upgrade ultimately hold, it could bode well for bitcoin cash.

The protocol’s supporters are arguably more encouraged about the network’s future with the suspension of the Segwit2x hard fork, scheduled to occur on bitcoin last week. A controversial scaling proposal drafted by a group of miners and bitcoin businesses, Segwit2x looked to increase the bitcoin block size from 1 MB to 2 MB by way of a hard fork.

Still, with the measure failed, its supporters appear to be migrating to alternatives. This weekend saw bitcoin cash rise to a value of nearly $2,000, an all-time high, though analysts differed on whether this amounts to lasting (or even real) support for the network.

At the same time, money talks, and already at least one smaller miner indicated they’re following the situation, possibly hinting at the psychological factors at play in the market.

Yimo Cheng, a China-based tax accountant who mines bitcoin out of his home, said he hasn’t yet started mining bitcoin cash for concerns about its ownership being concentrated among Chinese buyers.

And while he believes bitcoin is “more international,” he ultimately said he would continue to monitor how the dynamic between the two blockchains developers.

He resolved:

“I will obverse it for a while.”

Bailey Reutzel contributed reporting.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Ledger and helped organize the Segwit2x agreement.

Bitcoin forks image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

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