It’s been five days since the fork, and the Bitcoin Cash (BCH/BCC) blockchain is still on the move as 85 blocks have been processed by miners so far. The 85th block was mined by the mining pool Bitclub, a newcomer to the BCH network. The BCH chain is moving a bit more consistently now, but mining profitability and the gaming of the currency’s mining difficulty continues to be a struggle for the newly born network.
Bitcoin Cash Mining Difficulty Needs to Drop More, but Something Might Be Stopping It
At the time of writing the BCH network hashrate is roughly around 300PH/s with blocks occurring roughly every 1-2 hours and some with longer intervals. Currently, there seems to be four pools working on the BCH chain and the largest of them is unknown. Another pool which has joined in on mining BCH blocks is a pool known as Suprnova.cc, and the group is known for publishing pretty interesting coinbase messages. Suprnova also mines many other digital currencies like Zcash and is only pointing very little hashrate towards the BCH network. At press time Suprnova has only 0.25 PH/s and eighteen workers dedicated to BCH.
The first BCH block took approximately five hours to complete and was followed by a block with a 12-hour interval in between it as well. On August 1 the BCH chain started with the same difficulty as BTC’s and the associated token was only worth $600-700 at that time. That means – unless resources like electricity are completely free – mining the BCH chain at that time was not profitable. At BTC’s difficulty, BCH would have needed to be around $2100 to be profitable.
This is why there was an initial 12-hour wait to find the next block. Miners who support the new chain want the difficulty to drop. The difficulty did eventually fall several times, but the price also dived into the low $200s as well, making it 311% more profitable to mine on the BTC chain. The next difficulty drop should lock in soon and the Bitclub pool entry may indicate more miners are becoming attracted to this chain.
Game Theory: The Malicious and Honest Miner
Some people think a ‘malicious’ miner might be gaming the network, to hinder further difficulty adjustments. A few people on forums noticed this happening as one person writes, “There’s a pattern I’m seeing, someone with quite a lot of hash power is ramping up and producing two blocks minutes apart every time the adjustment nearly triggers.” Another individual observes the same situation taking place,
I have been noticing the same pattern in real time. We almost reached twelve hours, Viabtc has no more than 25PH mining, last block took 339 minutes and BAM we get a thirteen minutes block. This is the third time it happens when we reach over 11.5 hours.
‘Honest’ miners have been slowing down or ‘pausing’ for twelve hour periods so they can lower the difficulty even more. Presently the BCH chain’s difficulty is 26 percent of the BTC legacy chain’s mining difficulty. The Bitcoin Cash protocol’s rules detail that in order for the difficulty to adjust down it utilizes Median Time Past (MTP) of the last block and the MTP of the 6 previous blocks has to surpass twelve hours for it to drop another percentage.
The Unknown Miner Hashrate Commands Two-Thirds of the Entire Network
The malicious miner theory is entirely possible as these miners can use their hash power to produce a block between the paused intervals. This has caused people to speculate specifically on the unknown miner that has mined a majority of the blocks so far. It doesn’t seem to be the Hong Kong miner who was advertising his new cryptocurrency center at the start of the BCH chain.
Further, we know the Suprnova pool’s coinbase data said ‘fuckbitcoincash’ and the pool could also be ‘attack mining’, but it has very little strength compared to the unknown mining majority. If anything is disrupting these longer block intervals that are intended to drop the difficulty, it’s most likely this anonymous miner.
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