Bitcoin Core vs Bitcoin Unlimited

One of the hottest topics of debate right now is whether or not users should support Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Unlimited. While the second has most of mining support, Core is the preferred solution for every major service provider and exchange. It is a difficult choice to make, albeit both solutions claim to work towards the same end goal. Let’s see what they both have to offer and how they are different.

2. Bitcoin Unlimited

When this project was first announced, it gained significant backing from some of the more prominent members in the bitcoin industry. Roger Ver, Jihan Wu, and a few others felt Bitcoin Core was not taking the necessary steps to make bitcoin scale. Bitcoin Unlimited proposes a modest block size increase, although the specific details will be determined by network users themselves by reaching a consensus.

Bitcoin Unlimited builds upon what Bitcoin XT and Bitcoin Classic have unsuccessfully tried to achieve in the past. Giving miners the option to configure the size of blocks they will validate, Bitcoin Unlimited is doing things very differently from Bitcoin Core. The default size is still one megabyte, yet the maximum generation size is a fully customizable option. Network nodes have a similar option to determine which blocks they will validate and how large they can be.

As one would expect, Bitcoin Unlimited has gained the support from some of the larger mining pools. However, the mining community is only a part of the overall network. Service providers, exchanges, and wallet operators are not too keen on what Bitcoin Unlimited proposes. Without that critical support, the chances of BU succeeding are limited.

1. Bitcoin Core

Over the course of the past nine years, Bitcoin Core has always been the main branch of development. Even though the influence of Blockstream has grown a lot, the company is also responsible for funding a large portion of all bitcoin development progress. Despite providing this incentive, the influence of Blockstream has remained somewhat limited, even though some people strongly feel otherwise.

It has taken the Bitcoin Core some time to figure out a scaling solution, which is presented in the form of SegWit. Bitcoin Unlimited supporters feel SegWit will not provide the necessary scaling capacities, which is why they developed their own solution. Segregated Witness will also lay the foundation for the Lightning Network, although that concept still requires a lot of work. The goal is to hard-code a block size limit into the bitcoin network, rather than giving node owners and miners a free choice regarding this matter.

It is the post-Segregated Witness roadmap that has some people concerned. To be more precise, BU supporters feel the block size will remain hardcoded at its 1MB size, condemning the bitcoin blockchain to become a settlement network rivaling SWIFT. Although this is not necessarily how things will play out it is one of the problems Bitcoin Core developers need to address. Despite the lack of an official “roadmap”, virtually every popular service provider feels SegWit is the right way to go, rather than using Bitcoin Unlimited’s proposal.

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