Bitcoin miners have begun signaling their opinions on Bitcoin’s pending upgrade, Taproot, with a clock ticking over six difficulty periods for the proposed change to be approved. Called a “speedy trial,” Bitcoin developers opted to give miners a set period of time to tell the rest of the network whether or not they were ready for the upgrade.

  • Blocks mined by F2Pool, SlushPool, Foundry, Antpool, Poolin signal support from those pools, which collectively represent roughly 55% of Bitcoin’s total hashrate.
  • 90% of the 2016 blocks in a difficulty period need to carry a supportive signal for the upgrade to activate.
  • Blocks mined by several large pools like ViaBTC, Binance Pool, and have not signaled support.
  • Signaling progress can be tracked at this nifty blockchain visualization site:

In the near-term future, it wouldn’t be a surprise for most or all large pools to signal support for Taproot. Last November, pools representing a majority of the network’s hashrate publicly stated their support for the upgrade. Now the question is if these pools are ready to activate it.

What’s Taproot?

Taproot is essentially an upgrade for how complex types of transactions are executed and what data is visible, improving Bitcoin’s privacy and scalability. After it activates, Taproot brings a new level of security to Bitcoin along with new possibilities for building on its blockchain. But miners need to signal they’re ready for developers to actually implement the change.

How do miners signal?

The act of “signaling” support could seem like a complex endeavor, but for Taproot, the process involves adding a number to the block’s version number, a bit of data included in every block’s header. Blocks from Foundry, F2Pool, and other supporters all contain a “4” at the end of their blocks, which registers as support for Taproot.

What if approval fails?

The threshold for approval can’t be met during the current period based on the number of blocks that haven’t signaled support thus far. And if at least 90% of the blocks mined during this or any of the next five difficulty periods don’t signal support, then it’s essentially back to Square One for developers. But if the threshold for activation is met, the upgrade will be set to go live in November 2021.

That the threshold isn’t met during this first period isn’t really problematic at all, according to Bitcoin Core contributor Jeremy Rubin. But miners, developers, and other involved parties are generally optimistic that the approval threshold will be met.