Bitmain active "AsicBoost" controversial for Antpool

New evidence suggests that Bitcoin-controlled AntPool triggered a controversial attack on its mining operations. The hacking AsicBoost presumably gives an increase of 20% efficiency when it is extracted.


The Big Reveal monitoring website

AsicBoost Block Explorer, has identified that block # 530042 was actually extracted from AntPool using the technology. In fact, about 4% of the blocks extracted last week used AsicBoost.

Antpool has 13.5% of the total hash power on the grid, making it the second largest mining basin. The largest, BTC.com, also a part of Bitmain, accounts for 17.5% of the hash power. Bitmain is the leading supplier of mining hardware

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Bitmain was in hot water last year after the 39, accused of having implemented a "hidden" version of AsicBoost to hack its mining hardware chips. Many believed this led to the company's refusal to implement SegWit, as this would have made hardware obsolete.

At the time, Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu vehemently denied these allegations, claiming that the hack was tested in a test environment, but never used for real-world mining.

Overt AsicBoost

The current claim is slightly different and revolves around the use of AsicBoost "overt". This is a mathematical trick, which can restrict the number of potential hashes to choose from. By avoiding a large amount of calculations necessary to extract the blocks, the efficiency and profitability of mining activities increase.

"Overt" or "version-rolling" AsicBoost was developed by the rival hardware manufacturer, Halong Mining, and energy-saving without risk to the network. The patent has become part of the BDPL (Blockchain Defensive Patent License) scheme. This allows other operators who are part of the scheme to use it, thus creating a level playing field for users.

Why Now?

So while AsicBoost's current implementation of AntPool is not as controversial as the one surrounding it last year, it raises some interesting questions. How "Why now?"

The cynical among us might suggest that Bitmain's stance in the hardware sector is coming to an end, with other manufacturers now starting to produce equivalent or better rigs. The timing could not have come at a worse time for the mining colossus with an IPO being processed.

Why do you think Bitmain decided to activate Asicboost now? Share your thoughts below


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