BetterHash: Replacing the Stratum Protocol

Decentralizing mining doesn’t always take the form of an algorithm change.

Matt Corallo linked the following Bitcoin Improvement Protocol called BetterHash.

We propose two new mining protocols to rethink the way in which work is generated in the Bitcoin network, potentially drastically increasing effective mining decentralization.

In the email he explained the goals of this protocol improvement:

1) Replace getblocktemplate with something that is both more performant… more robust for consensus changes… and moves more block-switching logic inside of the work provider (allowing Bitcoin Core to better optimize work switching as it knows more than an outside pool server… by moving to a more push model from the normal pull getblocktemplate implementation).

2) Replace Stratum with something more secure… simpler to implement… and better-defined (a clearly written spec, encompassing the various things shoved backwards into stratum…

3) Provide the ability for a pool to accept work which the users of the pool selected the transactions for, providing strong decentralization pressure by removing the network-level centralization attacks pools can do (or be compromised and used to perform) while still allowing them full control of payout management and variance reduction.

While (1) and (2) stand on their own, making it all one set of protocols to provide (3) provides at least the opportunity for drastically better decentralization in Bitcoin mining in the future.

The BIP was immediately met with positivity on behalf of Chris Pacia:

Really like that you’re moving forward with this. A few months ago I was working on something similar as it seemed like nobody else was interested.

The protocol has been broken down into 12 steps, with intricate detail to the point where an implementation could likely be written in any language. Such detail is necessary so that other clients, like Bitcoinj can keep up with the development.

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