Bitmain Releases Firmware To Enable “Overt AsicBoost” For Antminer S9

Kevin O'Brien

Bitmain announced a new firmware for the Antminer S9 that will officially activate the “overt AsicBoost” functionality, according to a blog post from the company published today (October 22nd)/

Bitmain said they will release firmware in the coming week so the functionality can be applied to other BM1387-based models such as the Antminer R4 and S9i.

According to the company, the new upgrade will boost the effectiveness of a few Antminer models and will provide a solid foundation and framework for the future mining network.

The “overt AsicBoost” (AsicBoost) functionality however, has come under controversy for a few reasons.

Questions About Patents

The release by Bitmain came a few days after a Medium post by software development groups Braiins that said the Antminer S9 could support AsicBoost, but the feature was disabled as a standard practice.

Braiins said "we are dedicated to enable this in Braiins OS and make it available to everyone."

In their blog post, Bitmain noted how they were wary about activating the functionality due to questions about legal uncertainty.

The company noted how new mining hardware manufactures earlier in the year were promoting their own technology with claims about usage of “AsicBoost.”

Bitmain said the solicited legal advice and felt comfortable about the fact that there “may never be a patent right over AsicBoost.” The company also wrote how they take patent rights seriously and will keep respecting intellectual property attributed to third parties.

A Push Forward For Bitmain?

Bitmain noted that they decided to move forward and activate the AsicBoost functionality to make sure customer hardware “will increase in effectiveness” and ensure future offerings would be “the industry gold standard.”

According to the company, AsicBoost could boost the network’s total hashrate and slash the J/TH cost and maintain tests of AsicBoost have improved mining efficiency.

Despite the purported step forward for Bitmain, questions loom about the company's overall business strategy in the face of sanctions by the United States.

CryptoGlobe reported a few days ago how a change in the classification of ASIC miners could vastly increase import duties on devices from 2% to 27%.

Bitmain might be hard hit if this change goes through since it has the largest proportion of sales overseas, though it is still unclear how much revenue comes from U.S. sales.