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Bitmain Activates Controversial ‘AsicBoost’ in Antminer S9, Boost 20% Bitcoin Mining Efficiency

Bitmain, the world’s largest bitcoin mining manufacture has released a firmware for its popular Antminer S9 to enable the “overt AsicBoost” functionality. The controversial code will be able to boost 20 percent hike in efficiency of bitcoin mining.

In a recent blog post on Monday, Bitmain explains the new-released firmware will support the overt AsicBoost functionality and brings significant speed boost and cost saving to the bitcoin miners. Notably, although Bitmian is only enabling these mining devices to use AsicBoost at present, the chips were already capable of supporting the function on a hardware level.

AsicBoost is a technology implemented in ASIC chips used for crypto mining that originally  patented by CoinTerra CTO Timo Hanke and RSK Chief Scientist Sergio Demián Lerner. It can reduce the amount of work that SHA256 miners must perform to produce a hash, so essentially, it may save some energy in finding a valid block.

However, AsicBoost can be implemented either covertly or overtly, and that’s why controversial is so controversial. The covert AsicBoost promotes miners to produce small or empty blocks and makes it difficult to identify miners’ identities.

Some Critics accused Bitmain of applying covert AsicBoost prior to the SegWit fork of bitcoin, but Bitmain denied the allegation. According to the blog post, Bitmain has previous released support for AsicBoost Boost in March 2018.

In order to give their mining pools users the option to mine using AsicBoost, the firm adds support for it on both BTC.COM and Antpool.

Bitmain emphasized that there isn’t and may never be a patent right over AsicBoost, thus miners can choose whether or not to use AsicBoost technology.

This time, Bitmain is giving miners a chance to take this advantage without any negative impact on the bitcoin protocol.

According to Bitmain,

This variant of the “overt AsicBoost” simply uses version bits different from those that other manufacturers have been using. It is equally transparent because it can be seen in the blockheader of boosted blocks.

Bitmain also added they are intend to release firmware supporting the same functionality for its Antminer R4, S9i, S9j, T9 and T9+ miners next week.

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