Block Subsidiary Spiral, Mining Tech Firm Braiins Spearhead Push for Bitcoin Mining Upgrades

Block (SQ) subsidiary Spiral and bitcoin mining tech provider Braiins are spearheading a working group to promote the adoption of updates to the bitcoin mining pool protocol.

The upgrade is the second version of the Stratum protocol, which is used by most miners to control how mining machines connect to pool servers. Bitcoin mining pools aggregate the hashrates of many miners and distribute rewards across the participants.

Stratum's second version (V2) promises several improvements on the protocol, including censorship resistance and allowing miners to choose their own work, instead of being assigned workloads by pools, which in turn could increase the Bitcoin network's decentralization.

Braiins, which is the firm behind the world's first mining pool, formerly known as Slush Pool, released the first version of Stratum in 2012 and V2 in 2019. Braiins itself implemented V2 in early 2020, but adoption through the rest of the industry has been sluggish.

The working group will focus on "building and sharing tools for all mining companies to quickly and seamlessly upgrade" to Stratum V2, the companies said in a Tuesday press release.

Crypto financial services firm Galaxy Digital, crypto mining and staking firm Foundry, crypto exchange BitMEX and bitcoin education program Summer of Bitcoin, support some of Stratum V2's key developers, who are in turn part of the working group. Spiral and Braiins invited interested parties to participate in the group in their press release. Foundry is owned by Digital Currency Group, which also owns CoinDesk.

Miners "know the benefits of Stratum V2 very well," but pushing the mining industry over the "remaining development and adoption hurdles" is a "big task," said Braiins co-founder Jan Capek in the press release.

Features of Stratum V1 versus V2 according to Galaxy Digital Research's Rachel Rybarczyk, who is also involved in the new protocol's development. (Galaxy Digital Research)


The working group released the first version of an open-source Stratum V2 reference implementation (SRI) for testing, according to the press release. Reference implementations in software development are usually done by the developers of a product to showcase how it can be put to use. Other firms can either implement that code, or use it as inspiration for their own implementation.

SRI is meant "to test the interoperability of all implementations," Braiins Chief Marketing Officer Kristian Csepcsar told CoinDesk.

A new "more robust" version of the SRI with more functionality will be released in early November, the press release said.

"Universal standards for running and building Stratum V2 and the efforts of this working group to push the industry forward will provide the momentum Bitcoin needs to finally upgrade from a version of its mining protocol that was built a decade ago,” Capek said.

Spiral, under Jack Dorsey's Block, which has pledged to make mining more decentralized, supports three developers of Stratum V2 – Matt Corallo, Fi3 and Pavlenex. Other core contributors are Rachel Rybarczyk of Galaxy Digital; 4ss0, who is a pseudonymous developer financed by Foundry; Chris Coverdale, an independent developer financed by BitMEX; and Lorenzo Bonazzi of Summer of Bitcoin, according to the press release.

Read more: Inside the Environmentalist Campaign to Change Bitcoin’s Code