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BCH Upgrades: What’s New and What’s Next

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It’s been two weeks since the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork that upgraded the BCH chain and resulted in a blockchain split. But although many people have been focusing on the birth of Bitcoin SV, a number of BCH proponents are already moving forward and discussing the network’s latest upgrades, as well as the next hard fork scheduled for May.

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BCH Chain Upgrades

BCH Upgrades: What's New and What's NextThe Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain has split and many supporters are ready to move on, as the hash war is said to be over because the Bitcoin SV developers have revealed that they will add replay protection. But with all the focus on the emergence of a new chain, many people haven’t even noticed that the BCH software has been upgraded. For instance, new protocol changes have been applied to the blockchain, including a clean stack for more efficient script evaluation, canonical transaction ordering (CTOR), an enforced minimum transaction size, push-only for scriptsig, and the addition of the opcode OP_Checkdatasig.

The Most Discussed Additions to the BCH Chain

The two recent fork additions, OP_Checkdatasig and CTOR, have been the topic of intense discussion over the past few weeks. With CTOR, transactions within a block are sorted differently, while removing the limits of topological transaction ordering (TTOR). Developers believe CTOR removes a lot of the complexity of block template creation time. When coupled with the Graphene protocol, the chain could see a more efficient method of broadcasting blocks as well.

BCH developer and cryptocurrency miner Jonathan Toomin has published a comprehensive description of CTOR, while blockchain researcher Joannes Vermorel has also written about the protocol in great detail. And Bitcoincash.org explains that Bitcoin ABC developers believe CTOR “will have huge payoffs for the future of Bitcoin Cash.”

BCH Upgrades: What's New and What's Next
OP_Checkdatasig and CTOR are the most discussed upgrades to the BCH chain.

The other widely discussed addition to the Bitcoin Cash protocol was re-enabling the old opcode OP_Checkdatasig to improve the BCH script language. Basically, when someone uses the opcode OP_Checkdatasig, it calculates the hash within a transaction and checks the signature against that data set, which essentially validates or invalidates the signature in an autonomous fashion. Proponents of OP_Checkdatasig believe the script language can allow many different contract-like concepts, including permissionless cross-chain atomic swaps, native tokens and oracles. Bitcoin ABC developer Mengerian has written a detailed analysis of OP_Checkdatasig, in which he explains how the opcode could allow many types of decision-based transactions and smart contracts.

BCH Upgrades: What's New and What's Next
Bitcoin ABC’s plans for Bitcoin Cash technical engineering going forward.

New Opcodes and Schnorr Signatures

Now that these new features have been added to the BCH chain, many are wondering what’s coming in the next hard fork, scheduled for May 2019. The Bitcoin ABC development roadmap published last August shows there are many different features planned for future software. Back in October, Bitcoin Cash developer Shammah Chancellor (Micropresident) also published a suggested specification for the May fork, so developers could discuss the proposal. Over the last few weeks, BCH developers such as Mark Lundeberg, Awemany, Andrew Stone, Mengerian and Jason Cox have been discussing the proposed specifications in great detail.

BCH Upgrades: What's New and What's Next
2019 Hard Fork Specification Draft Proposal #143 on Github

The specifications under discussion include re-enabling the following opcodes: OP_Mul, OP_Invert, OP_Lshift and OP_Rshift. These specific opcodes are the same ones that were recently implemented on the BSV chain and they could add various scripting abilities and possibly allow for concepts such as Rabin signatures. The other specification listed on the proposal is enabling Schnorr signatures on the BCH chain.

The benefits of Schnorr signatures has been discussed in great length within the cryptocurrency community and the signature algorithm could theoretically advance scaling by reducing bandwidth and storage by 25 percent. The Schnorr scheme also offers privacy benefits if the protocol is coupled with concepts like transaction tumblers. Essentially transaction signatures could be obfuscated by tweaking shuffling software in the same fashion as mixing the inputs and outputs of combined BCH values.

BCH Upgrades: What Was Added Last Week and Discussing What's Next
There’s still a lot of time for the community and developers to discuss the next upgrade.

6 Months to Discuss

BCH proponents on the subreddit r/btc have also discussed the developer’s documentation, with one person commenting that they appreciated that the development has been “progressing normally.” Other BCH enthusiasts in the r/btc conversation started asking when the next block size increase would take place. The well-known BCH community member Homopit has already provided a response, stating that “The limit is now 500x above demand — Developers are working on more important things — 40-minute propagation for the 64MB block on BSV chain. Remember?”

Of course, the proposed specifications are only on the table for discussion at the moment, but it’s good for BCH proponents to get a glimpse of possible development plans. There’s also six months left and plenty of time for debate about the consensus changes slated for next spring.

What do you think about the recent additions to the Bitcoin Cash blockchain and the proposal for the upcoming May 2019 hard fork? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


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