Cryptocurrency mining company Bitmain has recently released an update to the firmware for its Antminer S9 devices. This firmware update allows the Bitcoin miners to activate ‘Overt AsicBoost’ that helps them in saving around 13 percent of energy costs over conventional Bitcoin mining setup.
This update delights the Bitcoin miners as this proves to be a boon to earn profitability when there is increasing competition and decreasing profit margins.
Bitmain Firmware Enables Overt AsicBoost
AsicBoost was previously released by Bitmain in March 2018. The support for the AsicBoost only remained with the BTC.com and Antpool. But, the hardware didn’t have any firmware support from Bitmain.
Recently, Braiins, the software development group operating Slush Pool, verified the existence of AsicBoost functionality in Bitmain’s Antminer S9 hardware. The company announced that they are going to launch their own open-source version of AsicBoost to be used on the Bitmain’s Antminer S9.
Soon after the statement by Braiins, Bitmain released the firmware update in their recent blog.
According to their statement, the Antminer S9 hardware was capable of supporting this overt AsicBoost firmware. But, they never felt enabling due to some patent-related uncertainties available around enabling AsicBoost.
Now, with such firmware update, Bitmain ensures that their hardware remains effective when it comes to mining Bitcoins with faster hashrate and decreasing energy costs.
As per an announcement made on the blog,
Now we are pleased to give Antminer users whose miners have the capability to support this function a choice to avail this advantage without any negative impact on the Bitcoin protocol. This variant of the ‘overt AsicBoost’ simply uses version bits different from those that other manufacturers have been using. It is equally transparent because it can be seen in the blockheader of boosted blocks.
Bitmain plans to enable the overt AsicBoost firmware in their other hardware devices such as Antminer R4, S9i, S9j, T9 and T9+ within a week or so.
What is Overt AsicBoost?
AsicBoost is a technology that is used in the ASIC chips used in the Cryptocurrency mining hardware to efficiently mine the Bitcoins.
By using AsicBoost, these ASIC chips allow the Bitcoin miners to find the valid block much faster compared to any other methods.
AsicBoost was previously patented by Timo Hanke, CTO CoinTerra and Sergio Demián Lerner, Chief Scientist RSK.
According to the Blockchain Defensive Patent License (BDPL), there is an agreement where certain Blockchain technologies need to be made available to the other companies falling under this agreement.
Bitmain’s Patent Associated with AsicBoost
Due to the patent issues, Bitmain did not release the AsicBoost firmware for their Antminer S9 devices.
But, as per the clarifications made by their legal departments, there is no specific claim made to protect the firmware with a patent.
Talking about the patent over the overt AsicBoost, the company stated-
With regard to patent rights, we continue to respect third parties’ IP right and take actions accordingly. Based on legal opinions from various jurisdictions, we believe that there isn’t and may never be a patent right over AsicBoost. Thus, all miners should be entitled to make their own choice on whether to use AsicBoost technology without anybody having an exclusive right over it.
And finally, Bitmain decided to enable the firmware.
The Controversy around AsicBoost
Well, there was a controversy around Bitmain’s use of AsicBoost covertly. The accusations stated that Bitmain was using this technology privately in order to help themselves on mining Bitcoins using the devices that didn’t have this firmware.
Later, SegWit came up with a soft fork upgrade which made it much more difficult for the Bitmain or any other company to use AsicBoost covertly.
Though the company had denied all the accusations, the controversy was never ignored.
Where to find the Overt AsicBoost firmware?
Now that Bitmain has released and enabled the Overt Asicboost firmware update, the firmware is available to download from here – https://service.bitmain.com/support/download.