To first understand why there was a Bitcoin fork, the concept of a fork needs to be understood. To put it into the simplest of words, a fork is the change being made to the software running the cryptocurrency in question which creates two separate versions of the Blockchain but both have a shared history. Forks can work in one of two ways. Either the fork is a temporary split for a few minutes or they can become permanent and result in two different cryptocurrencies.
There are a few reasons why forking can happen. When a change is being proposed to the protocols of a certain digital currency, users need to know if they want to go with a newer version of the digital currency or if they’d rather stick with the current version. The majority of users have to agree to implement the change.
In the case of Bitcoin, its popularity has become a factor bogging it down. It takes the ‘blocks’ of Bitcoin transactions to get linked together into the ‘blockchain’ an average 10 minutes or so. It’s caused a major scaling problem and a difference of opinion has formed as to how this should be dealt with. Enter Bitcoin Gold.
Bitcoin Gold is Jack Liao’s proposed solution to the scaling problem and will launch this as a hardfork of Bitcoin. The major proposal Bitcoin Gold offers is a change in the way miners generate the cryptocurrency. BTG will be using a proof-of-work known as Equihash which is ASIC resistant. This will give back mining to the users so they can use their CPUs to mine.
ASICs are Application Specific Integrated Circuits that serve only the purpose of Bitcoin mining and in that they’re different from CPUs. A normal CPU can mine at around 5-10 MH/s compared to the massively sped-up performance of ASIC which can perform at a rate of 5-10 TH/s. That means that using the current system, ASICs perform a million times better than CPUs.
The current proof-of-work function doesn’t require a major deal of RAM which makes it easier for ASICs to mine the cryptocurrency. Equihash would require more RAM due to its complexity essentially making it a more expensive experience to mine the digital currency. Using Equihash, an average CPU can perform at around 10-30H/s while the ASICs would be able to perform at 1000-3000H/s. This means, from a million times faster, the ASICs will be brought down to a 100 times more work per second than normal CPUs. A more level playing field for the average Joe in the market of Bitcoin mining will be in effect.
Bitcoin Gold is another one of the hardforks being introduced to the cryptocurrency-ecosystem and it doesn’t mean you have to be fearful of it if you’re a Bitcoin holder. If the hardfork happens, you’ll get the same amount of Bitcoin Gold as Bitcoin you already hold in the block being forked.
They plan to pick a block on the 25th of October, 2017 to fork from. This doesn’t mean they will launch the BTG on the 25th, it just means that the Bitcoin blockchain shall freeze for the day to accommodate the BTG chain and new BTG blocks will be built upon that later on. Fingers crossed.