|Initial release||Mar 11, 2016|
1.9.1 / 17 February 2021
Mac OS X, ARM
Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) is a full node implementation for the bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash networks. The Bitcoin Core client, from which Bitcoin Unlimited is forked, has a hard coded one megabyte block limit; Bitcoin Unlimited differs by allowing users to signal which block size limit they prefer, find the limit having a majority consensus and automatically track the largest proof-of-work, regardless of block size. However, if a block greater than one megabyte in size is accepted by Bitcoin Unlimited and rejected by nodes with a block size limit, a fork of the network will occur, resulting in two separate blockchains with Bitcoin Unlimited nodes following the chain with the largest proof-of-work.
The release of Bitcoin Unlimited follows the release of Bitcoin XT and Bitcoin Classic, alternative proposals which aimed to increase bitcoin's transaction capacity of around 2.5-3 transactions per second by increasing the hard-coded block size limit.
Bitcoin Unlimited is an attempt to upgrade Bitcoin Core into a client that processes bitcoin transactions into blocks with a potential maximum size greater than the Core's hard-coded limit of one megabyte. The one megabyte block size limit was added in 2010 by Satoshi Nakamoto as a temporary anti-DoS measure. This limited the maximum network capacity to about three transactions per second. Per the advocates of the change, a block size increase is needed in order to avoid a workflow bottleneck due to the number of transactions made as bitcoin adoption increases.
With Bitcoin Unlimited, miners are independently able to configure the size of the blocks they will validate.
Miners using Bitcoin Unlimited continue to process regular-sized blocks but as soon as a block larger than one megabyte is mined, they will follow the chain containing the most work.
Developers of Bitcoin Core have been reluctant to increase the block size limit. BU nodes were attacked after developers brought a bug to light on 14 March 2017. The numbers of nodes hosting Unlimited fell from 780 to about 370 following the attacks, the lowest level since October, and returned to about 780 within 24 hours according to website coin.dance which tracks network data.
As of July 2022, there are only three BU nodes online according to Coin Dance data, a decrease from seven in May 2021.
- Hayes, Adam (18 October 2016). "The Three Major Bitcoin Protocols Explained". Investopedia. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- Mike Orcutt (19 May 2015). "Leaderless Bitcoin Struggles to Make Its Most Crucial Decision". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- Jordan Pearson (14 October 2016). "'Bitcoin Unlimited' Hopes to Save Bitcoin from Itself". Motherboard. Vice Media LLC. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Bajpai, Prableen (26 October 2016). "What Is Bitcoin Unlimited?". Investopedia, LLC. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Vigna, Paul (17 January 2016). "Is Bitcoin Breaking Up?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Nakamura, Yuji; Chen, Lulu Yilun (13 March 2017). "Bitcoin Miners Signal Revolt in Push to Fix Sluggish Blockchain". BloombergTechnology. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
- Nakamura, Yuji (15 March 2017). "Divisive 'Bitcoin Unlimited' Solution Crashes After Bug Discovered". Bloomberg. Retrieved 15 March 2017.