Bitcoin mining protocol Stratum V2 opens for testing

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Bitcoin mining software developers have released the first significant update in nearly a decade: Stratum V2.

Bitcoin miners use Stratum to buffer and improve data transfer between mining pools, other miners, and Bitcoin node operators. The enterprise-grade, open-source protocol and its associated software have been extensively tested by Bitcoin’s multi-billion dollar mining for years.

Developers have already made Stratum V2 available for testing. Most miners will stay on V1 for several weeks as they thoroughly test V2. For Bitcoin miners, the update is a welcome yet momentous change in daily business.

Notable upgrades in Stratum V2

The update improves security and provides better support for lower-speed and less reliable Internet connections. The first version of Stratum released in 2012, V1, required each mining rig to submit its work separately. However, V2 adds an aggregator, allowing multiple mining rigs to submit work to a mining pool as a group. It also reduces the amount of data that needs to be submitted.

V2 also reduces the risk that an attacker can steal hashrate from owners of mining rigs. It also standardizes authentication, encryption protocols, and messaging connections between rigs and mining pools.

Developers expect to release a more refined, “production-ready” version of Stratum V2 in early November, however, due to potential issues with convincing miners to accept a new update, mass adoption could take several years.

Stratum V2 will also add the option for mining rigs connected to pools to choose their work rather than the pools selecting work for them. A senior employee at Block subsidiary Spiral, Steve Lee, says this feature will improve decentralization in bitcoin mining.

“Reaching 10% hash rate by the end of 2023 would be a great success,” he told CNBC.

Earns support from Jack Dorsey and Block

Jack Dorsey and his company Block (formerly Square) expressed support for Stratum V2. Block is working with the mining company Braiins to form a group that can test and refine Stratum V2 before pushing for mass activation by miners.

The move advances Block’s push into bitcoin mining. In April, Dorsey announced a venture with Blockstream to build a solar-powered facility in Texas. Elon Musk’s Tesla will furnish a 3.8-megawatt solar PV array and a 12-watt Megapack battery.

Stratum V2 is live for testing and hopes to reach 10% of hashrate by December 2023.

Read more: Blockstream and Block plan $12M off-grid solar Bitcoin mining farm in Texas

Stratum V2 only needs support from miners

The software is not part of Bitcoin’s core network. It’s simply enterprise-grade, open-source software. Stratum does not affect full node clients, hardware wallets, nor Bitcoin Core development. A miner will simply upgrade from V1 to V2 if it helps their business increase profitability and security.

Stratum V2 also has the advantage of simplifying smaller mining operations, including home-based miners whose Internet connection is slower or less reliable. This feature could onboard independent miners who were previously deterred by their Internet connections.

Developers expect to see miners customize slightly different implementations of Stratum V2 before committing to the upgrade. This month, Stratum released a test version. It is open-source software that anyone can use, starting October 11. In summary, Stratum V2 makes bitcoin mining more efficient, decentralized, and secure than the first version of Stratum.

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