[bitcoin-dev] Drivechain -- Request for Discussion

Paul Sztorc truthcoin at gmail.com
Mon May 22 06:17:07 UTC 2017

Dear list,

I've been working on "drivechain", a sidechain enabling technology, for
some time.

* The technical info site is here: www.drivechain.info
* The changes to Bitcoin are here:
* A Blank sidechain template is here:

As many of you know, I've been seeking feedback in person, at various
conferences and meetups over the past year, most prominently Scaling
Milan. And I intend to continue to seek feedback at Consensus2017 this
week, so if you are in NYC please just walk up and start talking to me!

But I also wanted to ask the list for feedback. Initially, I was
hesitant because I try not to consume reviewers' scarce time until the
author has put in a serious effort. However, I may have waiting too
long, as today it is actually quite close to a working release.

Scaling Implications

This upgrade would have significant scaling implications. Since it is
the case that sidechains can be added by soft fork, and since each of
these chains will have its own blockspace, this theoretically removes
the blocksize limit from "the Bitcoin system" (if one includes
sidechains as part of such a system). People who want a LargeBlock
bitcoin can just move their BTC over to such a network [1], and their
txns will have no longer have an impact on "Bitcoin Core". Thus, even
though this upgrade does not actually increase "scalability" per se, it
may in fact put an end to the scalability debate...forever.

This work includes the relatively new concept of "Blind Merged Mining"
[2] which I developed in January to allow SHA256^2 miners to merge-mine
these "drivechains", even if these miners aren't running the actual
sidechain software. The goal is to prevent sidechains from affecting the
levelness of the mining "playing field". BMM is conceptually similar to
ZooKeeV [3] which Peter Todd sketched out in mid-2013. BMM is not
required for drivechain, but it would address some of the last remaining

Total Transaction Fees in the Far Future

Some people feel that a maximum blocksize limit is needed to ensure that
future total equilibrium transaction fees are non-negligible. I
presented [4] on why I don't agree, 8 months ago. The reviewers I spoke
to over the last year have stopped bringing this complaint up, but I am
not sure everyone feels that way.

Juxtaposition with a recent "Scaling Compromise"

Recently, a scalability proposal began to circulate on social media. As
far as I could tell, it goes something like "immediately activate
SegWit, and then HF to double the nonwitness blockspace to 2MB within 12
months". But such a proposal is quite meager, compared to a "LargeBlock
Drivechain". The drivechain is better on both fronts, as it would not
require a hardfork, and could *almost immediately* add _any_ amount of
extra blockspace (specifically, I might expect a BIP101-like LargeBlock
chain that has an 8 MB maxblocksize, which doubles every two years).

In other words, I don't know why anyone would support that proposal over
mine. The only reasons would be either ignorance (ie, unfamiliarity with
drivechain) or because there are still nagging unspoken complaints about
drivechain which I apparently need to hear and address.

Other Thoughts

Unfortunately, anyone who worked on the "first generation" of sidechain
technology (the skiplist) or the "second generation" (federated /
Liquid), will find that this is very different.

I will admit that I am very pessimistic about any conversation that
involves scalability. It is often said that "talking politics lowers
your IQ by 25 points". Bitcoin scalability conversations seem to drain
50 points. (Instead of conversing, I think people should quietly work on
whatever they are passionate about until their problem either is solved,
or it goes away for some other reason, or until we all agree to just
stop talking about it.)


[1] http://www.drivechain.info/faq/#can-sidechains-really-help-with-scaling
[2] http://www.truthcoin.info/blog/blind-merged-mining/
[3] https://s3.amazonaws.com/peter.todd/bitcoin-wizards-13-10-17.log

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