Fork Wars: Segwit Lock-In and Communication Breakdown

Segregated Witness has officially locked-in and bitcoin’s price is currently coasting along at $3430. Even though Bitcoin market prices have rallied to new all time highs after the August 1 hard fork, both Bitcoin and the newly formed network, Bitcoin Cash still have some uncertain futures ahead.

Also read: Markets Update: Bitcoin Continues to Orbit Above $3K

Bitcoin Cash Pushes Forward as Network Strengthens

Fork Wars: Segwit Lock-In and Communication BreakdownThe hard fork happened, and the Bitcoin network split into two different blockchains that share a previous history. The Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network has survived an entire week, with five mining pools dedicating hashpower towards this alternative chain. Currently, the Bitcoin blockchain is still 899 blocks ahead of the new BCH chain, and it’s also 54 percent more profitable to mine BTC than BCH. However, this will change on August 8 as Bitcoin’s difficulty is going to increase approx. 7 percent while the BCH chain has been lowered to 17 percent of BTC’s current difficulty.

At the moment there have been 240 BCH blocks mined since the blockchain split and an ‘unknown miner’ has processed more than 83 percent of all the blocks in existence. So far there have been a total of 16 ‘big blocks’ (over 1MB) found on the BCH network with a few large ones being over 4MB. The other mining pools which are dedicating hashpower to the BCH chain include Suprnova, pool.Bitcoin.com, Viabtc, and the Bitclub. These four pools have only found 16 percent of the 240 BCH blocks mined. At press time the BCH chain is processing blocks consistently at a rate of 30-60 minutes per block with some longer intervals here and there.

Bitcoin Cash Markets

The price of Bitcoin Cash has helped mining profitability quite a bit as the price per BCH is roughly $380 at the time of writing. BCH markets dropped to an all-time low of just under $200 per BCH, but on August 6 the price rebounded during the day. Currently, BCH markets are up over 40 percent in the last 24-hours with a market capitalization of over $6.2B. Bitcoin Cash also has the third highest trading volume processing $394M over the past 24-hours. Both BTC and BCH prices started ascending on August 7 and Bitcoin hit an all time high of $3490 during the overnight.

Fork Wars: Segwit Lock-In and Communication Breakdown
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) prices have rebounded touching $380 on August 8, 2017.

Segwit Lock-in On August 8 Block 479707

Earlier this week news.Bitcoin.com reported on the Segwit2x roadmap and the possibility of Bitcoin turning into three separate networks. Segregated Witness (Segwit) has officially locked-in at block 479707, and a ~3 month hard fork timeline will now begin. Segwit activation will go live on the Bitcoin network on August 9. A vast majority of miners and businesses have supported the compromise to implement Segwit first and then follow with a 2MB hard fork this November. So far the plan has been successful, but many Core developers vehemently disagree with the second half of the plan. Every single Core developer has stated that they will not support a hard fork in November, which means Core software will not be aligned with the Segwit2x plan.

Fork Wars: Segwit Lock-In and Communication Breakdown
Segregated Witness (Segwit) has officially locked-in at block 479707.

The Civil War and the Rest of the Segwit2x Plan

Fork Wars: Segwit Lock-In and Communication Breakdown
Bitcoin Core contributor Matt Corallo (TheBlueMatt).

Now, software developer Matt Corallo (TheBlueMatt) and other Core developers have introduced a concept for the Core reference code. It seems the new idea will have Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 automatically disconnect nodes running Bitcoin-ABC and the Segwit2x fork.

“Immediately disconnect peers that use service bits 6 and 8 until August 1st, 2018,” explains Corallo’s proposal. “These bits have been used as a flag to indicate that a node is running incompatible consensus rules instead of changing the network magic, so we’re stuck disconnecting based on the service bits, at least for a while. Staying connected to nodes on other networks only prevents both sides from reaching consensus quickly, wastes network resources on both sides.”

‘A Very Hostile and Unsafe Change Prior to Segwit2x Fork Deployment’

Fork Wars: Segwit Lock-In and Communication Breakdown
Segwit2x lead maintainer Jeff Garzik.

After further feedback, Corallo explains that they updated to only disconnect bit 8 (Bitcoin-ABC), and the concept may be reviewed for other nodes in the near future. Segwit2x’s lead maintainer Jeff Garzik doesn’t like the idea and thinks it will create a “premature network split.”

“Deploying this change for NODE_SEGWIT2X – bit 7 – creates chain splits in the wild on an inconsistent basis” explains Garzik. “This creates chain splits even though Bitcoin Core and Segwit2x nodes are validating 100% the same rules today; it creates chain splits because of a presumed future rule deviation. The outcome is a bunch of non-deterministic islands.

This is a very hostile and unsafe change prior to Segwit2x fork deployment. It is safe and a convenient optimization for this codebase to make this change after a chain split, but not before.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

‘Core’ developer Matt Corallo tells others that Garzik is just creating “FUD” and people should “ignore” his comments. “This obviously doesn’t create a split until their incompatible rules kick in, it will only make upgraded nodes more cleanly separated, it’s not like the network won’t still be well-connected,” explains Corallo.

It doesn’t look like the Segwit2x roadmap will be smooth sailing as Core developers want nothing to do with the second half of the compromise. Many speculators wonder why Corallo and other Core developers didn’t mention this concept earlier, as Segwit implementation was just about to lock-in. The argument on Github has continued for quite some time, and many ‘Core’ developers agree (Ack) with the idea of blocking Segwit2x and Bitcoin-ABC (Bitcoin Cash) nodes.

“@TheBlueMatt, Please reconsider that every disagreement of opinion is not “fudding”, and we can have an honest debate,” adds Garzik.

What do you think about Bitcoin Cash and Segwit2x? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Images via Bitcoin.com, Pixabay, Bitcoin Cash, and Full Metal Jacket. 


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