Slush Pool: Don’t Upgrade Your Bitcoin Miners to Bitmain’s AsicBoost Patch

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Bitcoin mining pool operator Slush Pool is urging miners not to upgrade their Antminer S9 devices to a new firmware patch released this morning by manufacturer Bitmain, as it will render the devices incompatible with Slush Pool.

“Dear Miners, we strongly recommend you DON’T UPGRADE your S9 devices with the new Bitmain firmware. It is not compatible with BIP310 standard and as a result also not compatible with @slush_pool,” the pool operator said. “We are working hard on providing our own fix asap and will keep you posted.”

CCN reported this morning that Bitmain had released a new firmware patch that allows Antminer S9 owners to activate overt AsicBoost, a technological upgrade that could result in a 13 percent increase in energy efficiency.

Bitmain released the firmware just days after braiins, the software development group that operates Slush Pool, published research demonstrating that Antminer S9 hardware was capable of running overt AsicBoost, though activation would require a software patch. The firm, which recently released an open-source bitcoin mining firmware system, said that it would integrate support for overt AsicBoost into that software, dubbed Braiins OS.

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Slush Pool currently accounts for nearly 11 percent of the BTC hashrate. | Source: Coin Dance

According to Slush Pool, Bitmain’s firmware upgrade is not compatible with the BIP310 standard, which outlines a generic mechanism for specifying stratum protocol extensions. Consequently, users who upgrade their S9s will not be able to mine on Slush Pool until the firm is able to develop and implement a workaround.

In the meantime, miners would have to shift to other mining pools that are compatible with the upgraded firmware, such as BTC.com and AntPool — both of which are owned by Bitmain.

Consequently, the timing of Bitmain’s firmware release, along with its lack of support for BIP310, has raised questions about whether the China-based bitcoin mining giant is seeking to take punitive action against Slush Pool for developing alternative Antminer firmware and encouraging users to disable the default firmware distributed by Bitmain.

However, when reached for comment, a Bitmain spokesperson told CCN that the reasons for publishing the firmware upgrade were “nothing more or less” than outlined in the original announcement.

“The reasons for it are explained in a blog post that we published and are nothing more or less than what is written in it,” the spokesperson said. “It appears that majority of the global network can avail the benefits of this optimization and assuming that a portion that just happened to not be capable of doing that is the reason that we had decided to work on releasing this optimization is far from logic.”

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