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Author Topic: The threat of centralization through pools?  (Read 2529 times)
Mahkul
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February 18, 2011, 10:50:11 AM
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The recent rapid increase of generation difficulty got me thinking: soon for most of us pools will be the only option to generate any coins. The problem with that is that we are leaning towards centralization - if someone wanted to attack the network they would nearly had to attack the pools (e.g. slush's pool with 60GHash/s is a huge chunk of the overall power of the Bitcoin network).

Any thoughts on that?

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February 18, 2011, 10:54:40 AM
 #2

"Combination is always better than competition".

-Jack London, The Iron Heel.

Can the bitcoin network revert to a more distributed form, can difficulty go down as well as up?


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grondilu
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February 18, 2011, 10:59:12 AM
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I don't mind if there is a bit of centralisation, as long as it is not coerced.

There can be many pools, with different rules.  Plus, nothing prevents you from investing in a lot of CGU and do your own mining.
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February 18, 2011, 11:02:42 AM
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Right now the software Slush uses to run his pool is proprietary, so it's a bit harder for people to set up competing pools. You could try asking him to open source it.

Alternatively sipa posted a decent proposal for p2p pooled mining in the developer forum recently. It'd be good to see somebody make a serious attempt at implementing that.
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February 18, 2011, 11:04:09 AM
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Can the bitcoin network revert to a more distributed form, can difficulty go down as well as up?

Yes for both questions.

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Mahkul
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February 18, 2011, 11:16:39 AM
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I don't mind if there is a bit of centralisation, as long as it is not coerced.

There can be many pools, with different rules.  Plus, nothing prevents you from investing in a lot of CGU and do your own mining.


Yes. But what I am trying to say is that it would be much easier for some organization hostile to Bitcoin to turn off (or attack) a few pool servers than to disconnect thousands of single users.

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February 18, 2011, 11:33:45 AM
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By the way, how much is slush making from running his pool?

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February 18, 2011, 11:40:25 AM
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Yes. But what I am trying to say is that it would be much easier for some organization hostile to Bitcoin to turn off (or attack) a few pool servers than to disconnect thousands of single users.

I don't think that would really work... even if every pool were systematically DDoS'd, others would pop up like mushrooms, it would provide incentive for that P2P network to get truly active, or the network would revert to a decentralized, low-difficulty stage. Ever try to nail Gelatin to a wall?

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grondilu
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February 18, 2011, 11:47:27 AM
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Yes. But what I am trying to say is that it would be much easier for some organization hostile to Bitcoin to turn off (or attack) a few pool servers than to disconnect thousands of single users.

Well, even if they do, then the difficulty will decrease and the mining will be done by CPUs...

I really think there isn't much to worry about.
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February 18, 2011, 12:15:30 PM
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"thanks Ben" lol Grin

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February 18, 2011, 12:51:34 PM
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By the way, how much is slush making from running his pool?

Probably not much, given that he recently had to enforce a mandatory donation in order to keep things running.  I highly doubt he's making a profit after all the bandwidth and server costs, and is providing us the service more or less out of goodwill.
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February 18, 2011, 01:12:47 PM
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So people are really paying just to get a more frequent supply of minted coins?

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February 18, 2011, 01:18:04 PM
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By the way, how much is slush making from running his pool?

Probably not much, given that he recently had to enforce a mandatory donation in order to keep things running.  I highly doubt he's making a profit after all the bandwidth and server costs, and is providing us the service more or less out of goodwill.

assuming an average rate of 57 GHash/s

which gives an average of 31 minutes per block

daily thats

24*0.5*50*0.02=12 BTC

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February 18, 2011, 01:20:07 PM
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So people are really paying just to get a more frequent supply of minted coins?

 I donno about anyone else, but I'm in the pool because I'd rather have a slow trickle than nothing until I hit the lottery. And I'll gladly fork over a small percentage of that income to ensure that trickle keeps coming.

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February 18, 2011, 02:34:59 PM
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By the way, how much is slush making from running his pool?

Probably not much, given that he recently had to enforce a mandatory donation in order to keep things running.  I highly doubt he's making a profit after all the bandwidth and server costs, and is providing us the service more or less out of goodwill.

assuming an average rate of 57 GHash/s

which gives an average of 31 minutes per block

daily thats

24*0.5*50*0.02=12 BTC

We know nothing about the daily costs associated with hosting the pool server.  It could very well be more than 12 BTC worth, just as likely as it could be less.
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February 18, 2011, 11:33:15 PM
 #16

There's still a significant amount of solo miners with 5970 and/or 5870 clusters.

Though it is true that the "get paid no matter what" pool that recently popped up will draw some people in due to giving out coins solely based on expected block generation rate.
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February 19, 2011, 02:37:17 AM
 #17

assuming an average rate of 57 GHash/s

which gives an average of 31 minutes per block

daily thats

24*0.5*50*0.02=12 BTC

Your math is lacking.

40 minutes = 48 blocks per day.

* 50  = 2400

* minimum 2% = 48 BTC per day



Just to avoid typo confusion, 30 minutes = 48 blocks per day is the correct conversion foo, but the result is correct.

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February 19, 2011, 02:50:15 AM
 #18

Isn't this assuming that the pool finds every block, something we can see on the result page is false?

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February 19, 2011, 03:22:52 AM
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Isn't this assuming that the pool finds every block, something we can see on the result page is false?

If the pool had over 50% of the total block output, in theory the pool operator could manipulate the block chain.
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February 20, 2011, 11:04:57 AM
 #20

Even thought as a whole the system won't be brought down, there is still the risk lots of money of lots of people will sudenlly disapear, suddenlly increasing the value of the bitcoins still circulating, possibly by several orders of magnitude depending on how big the hole is.

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