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What is SHA-256 ASICBoost

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SHA-256 ASICBoost is a technique that allows ASIC miners to improve their efficiency by up to 30%, allowing them to mine Bitcoin more profitably than without the technique. It is a controversial technique because it can give an unfair advantage to miners who use it, and it has a history of being shrouded in secrecy and patent disputes. In this article, we will delve deeper into the history of SHA-256 ASICBoost and its impact on the Bitcoin mining industry.

Discovery

The technique was first discovered in 2016 by a team of researchers, including Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell. The researchers found that by tweaking the way that ASIC miners perform the SHA-256 hashing algorithm, they could reduce the number of gate operations required, thus increasing the miner’s efficiency. The researchers dubbed the technique “ASICBoost” and released a paper detailing the technique, which quickly sparked interest within the Bitcoin mining community.

Controversy / Patent Disputes

However, the technique was not without controversy. The researchers found that the technique could be implemented in two different ways: “overt” and “covert” ASICBoost. Overt ASICBoost is a technique that can be implemented by any miner, regardless of the ASIC chip they are using. However, covert ASICBoost requires a specific and proprietary modification to the ASIC chip, which gives the miner a significant advantage over other miners who do not have access to the modification.

This sparked a patent dispute between the researchers and Bitmain, who was accused of using the covert ASICBoost technique without permission. Bitmain denied the accusations, but the controversy led to a split within the Bitcoin community, with some supporting the use of the technique and others opposing it.

The debate over the use of ASICBoost reached a boiling point in 2017, when a group of miners who supported the use of the technique proposed a soft fork to the Bitcoin network that would have allowed them to continue using the technique. The proposal was met with strong opposition from other members of the community, and the soft fork was ultimately not implemented.

Mass Adoption

Today, the use of SHA-256 ASICBoost is still a controversial topic within the Bitcoin mining community. While the technique has been widely adopted by the industry, the patent dispute and the debate over its use have left a lasting impact on the industry. Regardless of one’s stance, it’s clear that SHA-256 ASICBoost was a necessary step in the evolution of the mining industry.

In conclusion, SHA-256 ASICBoost is a technique that allows ASIC miners to improve their efficiency by up to 30%. It has a history of secrecy, patent disputes and controversy. While the use of the technique is largely phased out, it has had a significant impact on the Bitcoin mining industry, raising concerns about centralization and fair competition. The history of SHA-256 ASICBoost serves as a reminder of the need for transparency and open communication within the industry, as well as the importance of finding a balance between efficiency and fairness.

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