A hard fork in the crypto world usually refers to changing the code of a crypto project so that a new blockchain and a new coin is created, where there would now be two versions of the blockchain and coin (similar to Bitcoin Cash splitting off from Bitcoin). Typically, if a user has coins in the wallet of the original blockchain when this type of fork occurs, they will have an equal amount of coins on the new blockchain at the time of the fork, doubling their coins as a result - though the new coins may be worthless or worth very little to start.
Because Sia is open source and is available on Gitlab, anyone can fork Sia or any other part of the project (such as the Sia-UI) and change it or create a new product based upon it. A software project like Sia can also be forked and improved upon without creating a new blockchain and a new coin, such as if someone wanted to improve the official wallet software by making a better user interface. At the time of this writing, there are nearly 500 forks of the basic Sia project on GitHub, though many of them are of old versions and do not create a new blockchain or coin.
If any third party sees fit to do so, though, they can fork the Sia blockchain and create a new coin. Whether or not that version of Sia would gain any support is questionable, as it would also separate all hosts and renters between the two networks - hosts and renters on the third-party fork couldn't communicate with hosts and renters on the main Sia project, limiting utility of the actual Sia storage product significantly on the third-party fork unless it also had a large number of users switch over from the official Sia project.
On October 1, 2018, David Vorick announced the intention to fork the Sia network away from the Blake2b algorithm and to an alternate version of the algorithm that only the Obelisk SC1 ASIC miner can use. By doing so, this will effectively centralize and monopolize mining of the Sia network to only Obelisk SC1 devices. The fork is scheduled to occur at the end of October 2018, and will cause Bitmain A3s, Innosilicon S11s, and any other non-Obelisk ASIC to no longer work for mining Sia. The fork is somewhat jokingly called "Brick2b" after David's likely non-serious response to what the alternate algorithm would be called.
The decision was made in response to a "Community Fork" proposal calling for Sia to fork to the alternate algorithm in order to grant Obelisk buyers exclusivity and attempt to mitigate legal troubles for Obelisk. The proposal requested a temporary fork to the alternate algorithm to provide Obelisk ROI, and then a fork back to Blake2b to allow all miners back on the network. It also suggested implementing a development fee from blocks mined in order to fund Nebulous Labs and expedite Sia development. However, the reasons given for the fork decision by the development team were to essentially punish other ASIC manufacturers like Bitmain and Innosilicon for what the Sia team considers unfair business practices, such as not communicating with the community, not announcing their devices in advance, not releasing batch counts, marking up hardware, and self-mining by manufacturers. The team has stated that the fork will be permanent and will not switch back to Blake2b. They will also not implement a development fee, and will stick to traditional fundraising methods, frustrating many users who have grown tired of the project's understaffing and slow development pace.
The Sia developers say that they will help to support the old chain with the regular Blake2b algorithm if a group of users chooses to continue to maintain and run it; however, unless both chains are equally represented on exchanges, mining pools, and on the Sia website for download, it's unlikely that the old chain which Sia is forking away from will survive. Exchanges and mining pools tend to adopt the latest version of the wallet which is actively developed, and that will be the "Brick2b" chain after the next Sia release of v1.3.6 with the fork code.
Community Opinion and Controversy
The community reception to the fork has been mixed, and appears to lean towards a negative reaction from Sia users and owners of third-party miners but a positive reaction from Obelisk SC1 buyers and those opposed to Bitmain.
The Obelisk SC1 buyers are in favor of a fork because with the other ASICs on the Sia network, SC1 profitability was essentially impossible. Kicking all other units off the network will make mining with SC1s profitable again, at least until another ASIC shows up. There are also doubts by some users that other ASIC manufacturers will build another Brick2b miner for Sia after being forked off the network, as they might fear being forked off again. Those opposed to Bitmain's business practices are happy to see a blockchain developer finally stand up to what they consider to be abusive ASIC manufacturers, and hope that it will serve as an example to other blockchain projects.
Many users opposed to the fork see nothing wrong with the business practices of the third-party ASIC manufacturers, citing them as what any competitive business would do, and question that the reason for the fork is actually as stated. Some argue that third-party ASICs were not attacking the Sia network and were mining normally alongside everyone else, and so they should not be removed from the network. Additionally, the fact that only Obelisks will be allowed to mine on the new Sia fork has raised concerns about conflicts of interest and favoritism, as the Obelisk project is also owned by the Sia developers. Several users believe that Sia is simply upset that their Obelisk project was beaten to market by other fairly competing manufacturers, and the fork is in retaliation for this and is not a good enough reason to fork. You can read more about the Obelisk project's background here.
There are concerns from both sides that kicking all current ASICs off the network and only allowing Obelisks to mine will reduce the hashrate of the network to a fraction of what it is now, making an attack on the network possible with a sufficiently sized GPU farm and lowering network security. Some users are concered that Bitmain or Innosilicon will not tolerate being forked off the Sia network, and will retaliate either legally, or by building superior next-generation ASICs which can mine the alternate algorithm and then deploy them in great numbers to attack the Sia network.
About the Fork
Coins: The fork will result in two chains and networks - the old legacy chain using Blake2b which exists now, and the new and actively developed "Brick2b" chain. Two Sia releases will be made around mid-October: v1.3.5 which will be the last Blake2b release, and v1.3.6 which will be the "Brick2b" release activating the new chain at the end of October. The exact block the fork will occur on is currently unknown, but at that time users with coins in a Sia-UI wallet would have those coins doubled and available on both chains. As mentioned above, it's not likely that both chains will be supported on exchanges and mining pools. The Sia developers have said that exchanges and mining pools have committed to following the new "Brick2b" fork, so the old chain would effectively be useless at that time unless an exchange or mining pool decides to keep it around. It's unknown what the old chain and coin would be called if this happened, or which exchanges or mining pools might keep both chains.
Mining: Once mining pools update to the new chain, after the fork date at the end of October 2018 all non-Obelisk mining hardware will stop working on the Sia network. Obelisk SC1 units will require a firmware update to activate the alternate algorithm, which will be released closer to the fork date. Non-Obelisk miners who continue to mine on the new chain would see their units stop working. Any coins they had mined before the fork date would be available on the new chain, but they would be unable to gain any more coins from mining. If a mining pool does not upgrade to the new chain, miners could continue to mine the old coin, but it's possible the old coin would be useless as it may not be on any exchanges. Non-Obelisk miners can also switch to Hyperspace, a Sia fork and competing project which is retaining the Blake2b algorithm and welcoming miners displaced by Brick2b.
Renting/Hosting: Renters and hosts on the Sia network will likely want to follow the "Brick2b" chain and update to v1.3.6+ when released, as this is the chain which will continue to receive Sia updates and new features. At the initial fork, any existing contracts that renters and hosts have will survive across the chains for the duration of those contracts. Upon contract renewal, however, contracts will only be possible with renters and hosts on the same chain. If renters or hosts want to utilize both chains, they'll need to run two instances of Sia - one for each chain - and maintain renting or hosting presences and wallet balances separately for each network. Just like with exchanges and mining pools, it's likely that the old chain will die off and will have no renters or hosts after a few months, as it won't be the chain that's maintained going forward.
More details will be added as they become available. We'd suggest checking out the External Links like Reddit and Discord to find the latest updates on the status of the fork.
Hyperspace is a third-party hard fork of Sia which occurred in July 2018. This fork was intended to coincide with the launch of Obelisks in early-mid July, as Hyperspace hopes to offer an alternative to the currently oversaturated mining environment of the official Sia blockchain - however, due to continued Obelisk delays, Hyperspace launched as planned on July 26.
The fork is a result of a difference in opinion regarding management and other strategies around the official Sia product. Hyperspace plans to continue development on their own version of the Sia storage project, as well as to fork the blockchain and create an alternate coin called "Space Cash". The fork uses the Blake2b algorithm so that current mining devices will be compatible with the fork. It also plans to add a development subsidy similar to Decred in lieu of Siafunds. Hyperspace has also launched an open source mining pool, called "Toastpool", which will support multiple coins.
A statement from the project:
3 problems facing Sia that we are looking to attack:
1) Revenue issues
2) Hosting incentives
3) User marketing and ease of use for the app
Hyperspace will be a storage company, not just the developer of a platform upon which other storage companies build.
We have a site similar to SiaSetup dedicated to the Hyperspace project, called HyperspaceGuide, if you want to learn more about Hyperspace.
Community Opinion and Controversy
Community opinion of the Hyperspace project is mixed - some users are thankful to have an alternative to the Sia project and a promise of a consumer-oriented experience, while others see Hyperspace as trying to steal Sia's work and rebrand it. There has also been displeasure expressed by Nebulous (the developers of Sia) over Hyperspace's removal of Siafunds from the forked product. The project is in fairly early stages, and overall is not very well known outside of those very familiar with Sia.
With Sia's decision to fork all existing non-Obelisk miners off the Sia network, Hyperspace is likely to gain attention and community favor in the next few months as miners search for an alternative and find Hyperspace.
About the Fork
An "airdrop" occured based on a snapshot of block 161358 of the Sia network, which was mined on July 1, 2018 at about 02:50 GMT. Users who had coins in an official wallet at the time of this block will receive 1 Space Cash for every 10 Siacoin they hold (more information) - if you did not have coins in an official wallet which you control the seed for, you are now too late and you will not qualify to receive Space Cash. Instructions for claiming Space Cash can be found on our companion site at this link. Space Cash will not be visible or be retrieved in the official Sia wallet - only in the Hyperspace app.
- Various forks to fix issues, such as mining difficulty, which cause incompatibility with old versions of Sia
- A "fork" dubbed "SiaCashCoin" which is not actually a fork of Sia, but a junk ERC20 (Ethereum) token with no apparent purpose