Sunday, January 23, 2022

Data Analysis: As SegWit Bounces Back, Has BU Lost the Battle?

Data Analysis: As SegWit Bounces Back, Has BU Lost the Battle?

While the PR war continues, Segwit-signaling nodes have stayed near an all-time high. The threat of an imminent Bitcoin hard fork intensified, as nodes and miners increasingly signaled for Bitcoin Unlimited. Within days however, a bug within the codebase was discovered and controversially exploited, leading to a crash in signalling nodes.

Also read: Seeds of War: How An Old Message Board Thread Gave Birth to Bitcoin Unlimited

Since then Segwit signalling has risen significantly, and is now around its all-time high.

Bug Killed Off Majority Support

Prior to the exploit being found, amidst a raft of publicity and discussion amongst the community, BU-signaling nodes had reached over 40%. The alternative implementation was publicly backed by Jihan Wu’s mining powerhouse AntPool, prominent investors Roger Ver and Chandler Guo, and many users in the community.

The bug enabled an attacker to switch off BU nodes remotely. Although the exploit was fixed, the incident exacerbated worries in the community surrounding the quality of the Bitcoin Unlimited code.

The available data illustrates the uptrend in SegWit signaling since the bug was discovered. As by late Sunday evening after the bug discovery, BU’s count had been overtaken by SegWit signaling nodes. Today, SegWit’s total remains above 30% and BU’s just below:

Blockchain SegWit signaling support
Data source: Blockchain.info
Bitcoin Unlimited BU Nodes signaling
Data source: Blockchain.info

It is unclear whether some nodes have returned to signaling for SegWit, but the threat of a hard fork seems to have galvanized some pro-SegWit users, like Crypto Scam podcast host Tone Vays and BitPremier founder Alan Silbert, into running full nodes.

While it remains to be seen if this reversal indicates an end to BU’s attempt to garner majority support, another circumstantial indicator also points to a decrease in BU interest. Bitfinex’s Chain Split Tokens, Bitcoin Core (BCC) and Bitcoin Unlimited (BCU), assign a futures price to each hypothetical chain — in effect giving an indication of the way the market views each proposal future value. At press time, the BCC token was dominating BCU around 10:1.

BCC Bitcoin Core Coin
Data source: CryptoCompare.com, Bitfinex
Bitcoin Unlimited Coin futures
Data source: CryptoCompare.com, Bitfinex

Continuing the trend, Core-supporting mining pool BitFury also overtook Antpool as the largest miner of bitcoin by percentage. However it has since returned to second place.

Incidents Leave Community Still Divided

The events of the past few weeks sparked furious debate within the community, which led to some respected commentators pointing out that they did not believe BU was ready to face the barrage of attacks that will inevitably come to any industry-leading codebase.

The more vocal Core supporters, like former BTCC CTO Samson Mow, went further and proclaimed outright victory:

Others are standing firm in their assertion that the Bitcoin Core devs are hampering the growth and utility of Bitcoin. Early adopter and creator of the Pirate movement, Rick Falkvinge, is one who sees Bitcoin being strangled by the 1MB block limit.

The saga continues, with additional accusations flying over “AsicBoost”. The code, which exploits a flaw in Bitcoin’s proof-of-work, could make certain ASIC chips much more power-efficient than usual and thus save costs. According to Core developer Greg Maxwell AsicBoost represents a “clear and present danger to Bitcoin”. However mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain called it an “engineering efficiency” that it had tested but never deployed on the Bitcoin mainnet for ethical reasons.

It remains to be seen whether the momentum has swung back to the so called “small blockers” for good or whether this is the beginning of a longer war of attrition. If it is, then these swings will be reflected in the whole market and not just the node count.

Do you think Bitcoin Unlimited still has a chance to win back majority support? If not, is Core the only alternative? Let us know.


Images via Pixabay, Blockchain, CryptoCompare.com

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