First Bitcoin Block Mined using ASIC Boost Protocol
On March 24th, mining giant Slush Pool announced the first successful mining of a Bitcoin block using the disputed technology known as ASIC boost. Block 514882 was supposedly mined by a Chinese miner located in Guangdong, using Halong Mining hardware. The event has sparked quite a bit of controversy in the Bitcoin community, especially since said ASIC Boost protocol had been supposedly used by Bitmain covertly.
ASIC Boost is a Bitmain-developed technology that supposedly allows miners to make use of a flaw in the Bitcoin protocol, and gains up to 30% advantage compared to the average miner. To put it simply, ASIC Boost allows its users to increase the computing power of their hardware by ‘exploiting’ the SHA-256 algorithm that Bitcoin is based on. While it is pretty difficult to explain ASIC Boost without getting too technical, few can deny that a 30% speedup of the mining process would bring significantly more earnings to those using it.
The problem with ASIC Boost is that it is mostly tied to Bitmain hardware. In other words, only those who purchase from Bitmain can get access to this technology, which sparked quite a bit of controversy, especially in the Bitcoin Core community. Users claim that Bitmain has been mining covertly using ASIC Boost for quite a while, and is currently trying to push it into the masses with no consideration of the effects it could have on the mining system in general.
The Halong mining rig that was supposedly used to mine the first block using ASIC Boost is also a controversial topic. The hardware is produced by a Chinese company and is hardly available for review outside of the country. Rumors that that machines themselves are but a fabrication are still going around, and Slush Pool’s claim that the first successful use of ASIC Boost was on a Halong machine raised suspicions that the pool is affiliated with the Chinese manufacturer. However, the pool leaders have personally denied the accusations.