BIP91: The SegWit Activation Locks In

Bitcoin is the first and still most vital cryptocurrency. With time, Bitcoin has turned out to be the fastest growing currency in the world. As we all know, with the good comes the bad and so is the case here. Bitcoin’s long-lasting scaling debate revolves around the size of blocks which are added to the blockchain. Blocks are basically a page of a ledger. These are files where data is permanently recorded. As per the current system of Bitcoin core, Bitcoin blocks encompass limited ‘storage’ capacity of 1MB. But with Bitcoin’s growing popularity its usage has increased. Thus, leading to congestion issues resulting in more time and transaction fees essential for verifying transactions.

Such issues have been reported on the Bitcoin network and to resolve them different section within the Bitcoin community pitched distinct solutions and came out with two proposals that gained significant traction. BIP148 and SegWit2x. BIP148, referred as Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 148 is a user activated soft fork (UASF) proposed by the pseudonymous developer “shaolinfry”. While, SegWit2x is a consensus forged amid a significant number of Bitcoin companies and miners. But their activation method might lead to coin-split as they differ, though both carry short term solution and plan to activate Segregated Witness (SegWit).

SegWit increases the blocksize, fixes transaction malleability, and makes scripting easier to upgrade as well as bringing many additional benefits.

In order to make the two conflicting activation methods compatible Bitmain Warranty engineer James Hilliard made a proposal, BIP91.

BIP91 is a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal provides a method for a majority of miners to coordinate activation of the prevailing SegWit deployment with less than 95% hashpower.

For now, BIP91 has officially locked in. The SegWit2x development team plans to implement BIP91 and it is also compatible with BIP148.

But, the lock-in is a primary move to activate SegWit on the network, and other steps come with a bit more complication.

Specifically, Miners will need to keep the following things in mind for it to activate:

  • There will be a 336-block “grace period,” taking about two and a half days, during which miners have time to prepare for activation.
  • BIP 91 will activate at block 477,120. Theoretically, mining pools will start rejecting blocks that do not signal support for SegWit (BIP 141). In this way, BIP 91 is a “coordination mechanism” that gets other mining pools to follow along or lose out on mining rewards.
  • SegWit could lock-in during the next difficulty adjustment period of 2016 blocks, which takes about two weeks.



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