Bcoin Developers Plan to Test Scaling Concept ‘Extension Blocks’

There has been a lot of discussions lately concerning the scaling debate and alternative Bitcoin clients within the ecosystem. Just recently, the Javascript protocol called Bcoin made headlines for its recent development, as well as a Bcoin block being mined on the Bitcoin mainnet. Now the founder of Purse has announced the development of a scaling attempt called “extension blocks.”

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A Scaling Concept Appears Called Extension Blocks

Bcoin Developers Plan to Test Scaling Concept 'Extension Blocks'
Christopher Jeffrey sports a hoodie that quotes Satoshi: “A second implementation would be a menace to the network.”

On April 3, Purse CEO and founder Andrew Lee proposed a new idea for scaling called extension blocks (EXT-B/ E-blocks). The E-blocks code has been submitted to Github with a proposal written by Christopher Jeffrey, Joseph Poon, Fedor Indutny, and Stephen Pair. The idea was first conceived by Johnson Lau in 2013 on Bitcointalk.org, when Lau realized the 1MB block size limit could be solved with an “auxiliary block” soft fork.

“And since this is a soft fork, it avoids a lot of political considerations. Anyone with 51% hashing power could implement this (if they can code),” explains Lau in 2013.

Lee’s blog post explains how E-blocks can allow for larger blocks through an opt-in second layer, resulting in a “true on-chain capacity increase.” Essentially, E-blocks are tethered to the end of every block upon activation.

“The larger block includes advancements that have not yet been activated; including a transaction malleability fix paving the way for smart contracts on Bitcoin,” explains the Purse founder. “In our proposal and implementation, funds can be easily transferred between the canonical block and the extension block, preserving fungibility.”

Bcoin Developers Plan to Test Scaling Concept 'Extension Blocks'
Bcoin extension blocks.

An Opt-in Soft Fork With Many Features

The implementation of E-blocks is a change that would be opt-in for both ordinary users and businesses, details Lee. Even though it is recommended to upgrade, users can opt to maintain older Bitcoin clients without upgrading. Some of the features E-blocks enable include an immediate block size increase, an optional soft fork, the ability to scale the block size even more, lightning and smart contract support, as well as Rootstock and Mimblewimble integration. Lee explains how the majority of miners can flag for the new proposal stating:

Once a supermajority of miners have flagged for this change, users can begin using these features enabling entirely new use cases for Bitcoin. The upgrade provides a path for even larger blocks and even the flexibility to create additional extension blocks.

Bcoin Developers Plan to Test Scaling Concept 'Extension Blocks'
Visual imagery of the canonical 1MB block, extension blocks, and the Lightning Network.

Open Source Code for Bcoin Extension Blocks

Lee also details how there is currently a specifications draft available for developers to review and the code has also been open sourced. Developers working on the E-blocks project will begin experimenting via the Bitcoin testnet in a few weeks, says Lee.

“This proposal is a transparent community process with Bitcoin ecosystem stakeholder participation, including users, miners, and the economic industry,” Lee concludes.

What do you think about the idea of extension blocks? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Purse.io, Bcoin.io and Medium.


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