There are quite a few bitcoin mining pools in existence, all of which play a critical role when it comes to solidifying the bitcoin network. Antpool, Bitfury, and F2Pool are some of the more prominent mining pools, as they have all been around for quite some time now. What makes these three pools so intriguing is how they have taken different paths along the way, yet still manage to remain large players in the grand scheme of things.
Most people are well aware of how the Antpool bitcoin mining pool is operated by Bitmain Tech Ltd. It makes a lot of sense for bitcoin mining hardware manufacturers to run their own pool, as they have easy access to additional hardware. Over the past few years, Antpool has tried to support bitcoin alternatives, including Bitcoin Classic and Bitcoin Unlimited. It is evident this particular pool feels there is room for additional branches of bitcoin development, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Moreover, Bitmain also added Ethereum mining to Antpool in Q2 of 2016. This goes to show large bitcoin mining pools have their sights set on popular alternative cryptocurrencies as well. Antpool was first announced in November of 2014, with pool nodes around the world to reduce latency for miners. It is quite interesting to see such a long-standing pool jump through several hoops and still remain one of the largest in the world.
Another popular Chinese mining pool goes by the name of F2Pool, also known as Discus Fish. F2Pool is slightly older than Antpool, as the pool opened its doors to the public in May of 2013. As one would expect from one of the oldest pools, they are not just mining bitcoin. Other supported currencies include Litecoin, Zcash and Ethereum. F2Pool also offers merged mining, which has become somewhat of a novelty these days.
It is also worth nothing F2Pool has been signaling Bitcoin Classic for quite some time now. Even though very few of the pool’s overall blocks signal BIP109 these days, they were one of the few pools to give miners an active say in the Core vs Classic debacle. One thing is certain, though: F2Pool will never support Bitcoin Unlimited. In fact, the pool owner recently stated how “Bitcoin can’t and won’t fork”. A very strong statement that leaves little to the imagination.
As the name suggests, the Bitfury pool is operated by one of the world’s largest bitcoin mining hardware manufacturers. They operate a private mining pool, indicating it is not possible for regular miners to mine on the BitFury pool right now. That is not entirely surprising, although most bitcoin mining pools are designed to welcome users from all over the world. That said, BitFury still controls over 10% of the total bitcoin network hashrate.
It is evident Bitfury has no desire to support alternative bitcoin development solutions as of right now, they went as far as to claim that they would sue developers if they implement a certain change. Bitfury has been loyal to Bitcoin Core over the years, and that situation will not change anytime soon. In fact, the pool recently mined a block signaling the activation of the user-activated soft fork. Actions like these may eventually get the ball rolling so we can end this scaling debate once and for all.
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