Silver lining. The long scalability debate may have had at least one positive effect that can find agreement from both sides.
Bitcoin’s node numbers have doubled in the past three years, rising from around 5,000 to now more than 11,000 as the ecosystem continues to grow.
The vast majority of them are Bitcoin Core nodes, or as they call them, Satoshi nodes. With 2,800 having upgraded to segwit. But a considerable number, more than 1,500, have not upgraded. Suggesting bitcoin’s segwit protocol change was very controversial.
Of considerable current interest are the Bitcoin Cash nodes as that network is to undergo an upgrade to fix its mining difficulty adjustment starting sometime between 7PM-8PM London time. With the actual fork to occur when 6 blocks have been found after 7PM.
They are listed under bitcoin nodes because they share the same genesis block and same history up until August 1st.
The vast majority of them have upgraded to the latest version, BitcoinABC 0.16, while around 10% have not yet. As the upgrade is a flag-day fork, they will have to in the next few hours or they will be cut-off from the network.
Interestingly, there are nearly 200 nodes of version 0.16.1. Freetrader, a Bitcoin Cash developer, says:
“Version 0.16.1 has been built already but we are waiting for after the upgrade fork to announce in order not to confuse users. The changes are only minor so not important for this fork ([static] seed updates and some internal refactorings/cleanup).”
It’s a minor release, cleaning up some obsolete static seeds, which are fall-back IP addresses in case the node finds no other means of obtaining peers, as well as some other internal housekeeping.
While 0.16 is a fairly big release, adjusting mining difficulty by block so as to keep them within an average of 10 minutes. Something which may create some interesting dynamics between the bch and btc chain as the two share the same miners.
That’s because while bch will adjust every block, btc will adjust every 2,000 blocks or so. Bitcoin’s chain, therefore, might become more volatile at a protocol level, potentially exacerbating congestion or fee increases and falls.
However, we’ll have to wait and see how it actually works in practice with price movements a significant consideration for miners who are mostly profit motivated.
Looking at the node numbers, the Bitcoin Cash fork does not appear to be controversial as 90% or more seem to have upgraded. As such, it should go smoothly at a technical level, but whether that will actually be the case remains to be seen in a few hours.