Bitcoin Cash plans a 32 MB hard fork

The lead developer of full-node client Bitcoin ABC Amaury Séchet has confirmed that Bitcoin Cash (BCH) will fork on May 15 to allow for bigger block sizes along with some other adjustments.

The fork was expected as the Bitcoin ABC lead developer Amaury Séchet announced intentions to fork a few months ago. Further, Séchet explained that it would be easier to fork after the new year and detailed some of the reasons why the fork would take place. Now, this week the ABC development team has released version 0.17.0 which contains the code to change the Bitcoin Cash network’s consensus rules.

The scheduled activation time will be on May 15 but there is no specific block height for this hard fork. Much like the birth of BCH, and the last fork in November consensus rules will change based on the “Median Time Past” (MTP) method. So on Tuesday, May 15 at 12:00:00 UTC, 2018 when the MTP takes place with the most recent 11 blocks equal to or greater than 1,526,400,000, the very next block will activate the hard fork.

The changes: Block size and Op codes

The two main features are instant confirmation and scaling – block size will increase up to 32MB with the new fork to allow for greater volume and speed of transactions. In an interview at the Satoshi’s Vision conference in March, Sechet described the scaling change as allowing “Paypal-like volume of payments”. Operational codes are being rewritten and added as well to introduce “Ethereum-like characteristics”, with the updated OP-codes and colored coin technology potentially enabling representative assets and basic smart contracts.

Séchet went on to voice his support for having multiple implementations of Bitcoin Cash from other development teams behind clients like Bitcoin Unlimited and Parity. Séchet feels that multiple implementations of the protocol help keep things running smoothly:

“It’s important to have several implementations for two reasons: the first is a technical reason. If there is a bad bug in one implementation, if you have another, you can keep the network running.”

He also described how multiple clients prevent monopolization and promote fairness. “I think that it is great because if one client started going rogue it would start to lose market share and another client will gain that market share. It’s keeping everybody honest,” he added.

In the announcement, developers advised anyone running a node to download the new version while asking for community assistance in “contacting exchanges, wallet providers, and other ecosystem participants, and letting them know they should upgrade their software or run an updated version of Bitcoin ABC or other compatible software.”

ABC developers report that Bitcoin Unlimited and Bitcoin X clients have said that they will be updating their software in accordance with the hard fork.

The developers also detail that they are in the midst of talking with major exchanges and wallet providers concerning the May 15th upgrade. The team emphasizes that the community can help by contacting infrastructure providers to make the process go more smoothly. The last Bitcoin Cash network upgrade back in November of 2017 had zero complications, and the Difficulty Algorithm Adjustment (DAA) consensus changes have kept the mining difficulty consistent. It’s safe to say the BCH community, in general, doesn’t seem to be afraid of hard forks. Proponents are looking forward to a 32 MB block size increase and op-code additions that could bring ethereum-like characteristics to the BCH network.

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