Apart from blockchain scalability puzzles, there is one area that is very sensitive for cryptocurrencies progress, and that is mining protocol. Mining protocol upgrades that are usually far from the spotlight, but from a long-term perspective, it can severely affect the price of Bitcoin (BTC).
Stratum V2: Old Hand, New Release
Slush Pool, which entered the game 9 years ago as the Bitcoin Pooled Mining Server, has released its Stratum V2 mining protocol. Created by Braiins Systems, this mining protocol brings numerous upgrades to the BTC hash mining process.
The first upgrade has to do with bandwidth consumption. The messages used in the protocol are completely binary as compared to the JSON-based in V1, in which the volume in one message is halved to 48 bytes. The second upgrade has to do with the CPU load, which is reduced by 70-80% in Stratum V2.
The new protocol uses a robust encryption scheme that prevents data from man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Now, it’s virtually impossible for hijackers to corrupt the interconnection between a miner and his/her pool in order to steal payouts. Last but not least, upgrades in the spheres of decentralization and optimization of infrastructure usage are hard-coded with the new release.
Introducing Light Mining
Following the recent “simplification” trend with regards to the mining process, Braiins Systems has presented a concept of header-only mining. This is lightweight version of the mining protocol allows an individual to use more primitive hardware, while at the same time, sacrificing some flexibility. It seems to be a reasonable option for the majority of mining devices, and is also very promising in the context of decentralization.
This looks similar to the recent Carbon Chamaeleon release of Monero’s RandomX algorithm. With the CPU-optimized RandomX, the advantages of specialized hardware (namely ASICs and FPGAs) are eliminated.