Some very strange things are going on in the world of Bitcoin mining. Antpool, one of the largest BTC mining pools in the world, is generating a high amount of blocks that contain almost no transaction data. The reason for this behavior is unclear, but it is apparent Antpool will not stop this practice anytime soon. But more empty blocks will also lead to network congestion, which is not a positive development.
Why Is Antpool Mining Empty Bitcoin Blocks?
To fully comprehend what is going on, one must first know what an empty block on the Bitcoin network is. Unlike virtually every other block in the blockchain, empty blocks only contain one transaction which allocates mining rewards. At the same time, generating empty blocks is not cheaper or quicker than full blocks, which makes it rather strange to see Antpool produce so many.
Empty blocks often occur when a pool is conducting SPV mining, and often happens right after a full network block has been mined by a competing pool. But Antpool has been successfully generating empty blocks in succession, which turns the traditional origin of these blocks on its head. More importantly, the past few months saw fewer empty blocks mined on the network than before. But for some reason, Antpool is on a mission to rectify that situation by themselves.
An empty network block is somewhat of an odd creature. On the one hand, is is a way to flood the network with useless data. However, it also evens out mining centralization in a way. Any mining pool can easily prevent the generation of empty blocks if they wanted to, but Antpool is doing it on purpose for an unknown reason.
One Reddit user speculates how an influx of empty blocks will increase Bitcoin transaction congestion. As we have seen several times over the past year, transactions tend to take longer before they received network confirmations on some occasions. It is unclear if empty blocks actively contribute to these delays, though.
It is equally possible this is due to an issue in the mining software running on Antpool’s servers. Them again, it is not the first time this mining pool is generating an unusual amount of empty blocks. For now, it remains anybody’s guess as to why this is happening, or what Antpool hopes to achieve by doing so.
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