Ethereum's ASIC rebellion warms new miners with great effort


"When you extract the ether I will not pay more for the power, what will you do?"

The question – placed on a forum ethereum on Thursday – is emblematic of a growing concern among miners who today dedicate both the computing power that

On the eve of the emergence of ASICs ethereum, or specialized mining hardware built to maximize the benefits of the software, the forum is not short of miners who say they intend to move their kits to other cryptocurrencies.

"What is the value of ether when all miners stop?" another post asks.

Declarations arrive before an update of the ethereum software scheduled for October. Dubbed Constantinople, the change, which must be conducted through a rigid fork, is set to reduce the amount of coins paid to miners from 3 ETH to 2 ETH per block, as currently codified by developers.

Although this does not necessarily break the miners' bank, the changes could quickly add up. According to Etherscan data, about 6,000 blocks are currently found per day, with about 17,000 ETHs (about $ 3.4 million) being paid to miners by the protocol.

However, if ASICs became a more popular tool for mining, smaller hobby miners could be even more severely affected by the proposed adjustment. As such, the ethereum miners begin to support a code change that would prevent ASICs from dominating the platform.

Supporting the movement, according to several sources, is the belief that the proposed emission reduction will have no impact on all miners alike. Rather, some think it is likely to concentrate mining power in a small number of pools with access to cheap electricity and with the resources needed to purchase ASICs.

"This community of small miners, hundreds of thousands, is now facing the reality that selling their used hardware could be a better result than continuing to participate in ETH," said Brian Venturo, CEO of Atlantic Crypto mining company.

To believe that the presence of small miners is necessary for the decentralization and security of the network, GPU supporters – a hardware for general purposes that is easier to access than the ASICs – are supporting a change in code that will remove competing hardware from the platform.

"The whole foundation of ethereum is decentralization, this is the foundation of it, this is the theme," Kristine-Leigh Minehan, a GPU provider and chief developer of the code, told CoinDesk

He continued:

"The only type of hard ware that is naturally decentralized and which means it is available in massive quantities to more individuals who are not inherently involved in cryptocurrency, which have no financial motivation, is a GPU card . "

Preparing for the Battle

Minehan, therefore, is preparing the modifications to the code for its possible inclusion in Constantinople, currently scheduled for October.

"The goal is to raise staff and have people working at that full time," said Minehan.

In his effort to block ASIC, Minehan joins several large cryptocurrencies – in particular monero criptovaluta, focusing on privacy – in what has been called the "crypto war on miners".

A basic movement started in January, the trend can be linked to different batches of specialized hardware developed, mainly by the Chinese mining giant Bitmain, for cryptocurrencies that were previously only minutable with GPUs.

But Minehan does not believe only in the kind of change of code that has benefited because it will remove ASICs from taking possession of ethereum, he also thinks it will lead to performance improvements even for GPU minsters.

This is because, based on an algorithm called ProgPoW, the code is designed to maximize the characteristics of the GPU hardware, using 80 percent of the general graphics card to calculate the algorithm, instead of the 10-20 percent which is typical of cryptocurrency mining.

For this reason, Minehan said that if a hardware designer tried to create a ProgPoW ASIC – that is, a specialized chip with only the ProgPoW calculation function – it would only look like GPU hardware.

"One of the really interesting features of ProgPoW is if you were going to implement this centralized hardware, an ASIC, then you would end up imitating a GPU card," Minehan told CoinDesk.

In this way, Minehan said that the algorithm relies heavily on Ethash, the current mining algorithm of ethereum. While Ethash was built to withstand ASIC hardware, adding in a dataset, called DAG, which increases incrementally over time, it seems that manufacturers have bypassed this barrier.

Distinguished by Ethash, ProgPoW forces the changes to the same algorithm each time, which means that "it is impossible to have fixed function hardware," said Minehan.

Minehan, therefore, calls it "extension of ethereum" that was built specifically for GPUs.

He told CoinDesk, "This is intrinsically what PropPoW is, it's a lesson on how to create custom algorithms for hardware."

Two types of hardware

In an interview, Minehan was adamant about the importance of hardware for general health purposes of the ether

"I do not think the developers ethereum understand how, forgive my language, but how fucked they are when the new generation of ASIC ethereum arrives publicly on the market, "he said.

In your mind, it's because while the current ASE ethereum does not represent a huge improvement to the GPUs used today – besides being slightly more efficient when it comes to power consumption – rapid improvements in hardware they mean that GPU and ASIC will become more and more polarized.

According to Minehan, the problem with this is not just that, it is also that ASICs by nature are linked to a specific algorithm and, as such, can effectively block miners in protecting against a particular protocol.


"When you" Re stuck in a coin causes a lot of competitive behavior, a lot of dangerous behavior. "

This is because while the primary market for GPUs is the gaming industry, there is no other use for custom ASICs besides cryptographic encryption, which means that ASIC producers and miners are more directly incentivized to protect their investments – even if this means interfering with the direction of the network.

This is particularly worrying since ethereum is planning to pass its extraction process to a technology called proof – pole, which it will completely eliminate the need for mining hardware, Minehan argued

"We believe that the game test is the natural progression of ethereum, and we want the game trials out there but the network will be incredibly vulnerable if only ASICs will be able to play, "he said.

ASIC producers continued," they are naturally encouraged to keep ethereum on work trials ". be "Splitting ethereum when the time comes to make the transition.

"They will do everything in their power to keep him on trial, which includes maintaining a large part of the hashrate network," he concluded.

Not in Constantinople [19659015] The implementation of the code resistant to the ASIC was announced by the developers as a "reasonable compromise" for the miners of the GPU on the network. Therefore, developers are taking the time to study ProgPoW for its potential inclusion in the ethereum code base.

Speaking with CoinDesk, the Ethereum Foundation's communication officer, Hudson Jameson, confirmed that he had worked to understand the feasibility of implementing ProgPoW.

Jameson has been in touch with some of the ProgPoW reviewers, including AMD and Nvidia GPU producers.

"Once I'm done, I'll work with some of the community's people and the ProgPoW experts to continue evaluating its profitability as a substitute for Ethash," Jameson told CoinDesk. "ProgPoW will definitely be discussed in the upcoming calls from central developers as we continue to evaluate it."

However, it is not yet clear whether there is sufficient support to implement this change.

For example, the arguments exist that the hashrate is increased that comes from ASIC hardware is actually a positive element for network security. Others warn that ProgPoW could have unexpected impacts – such as damaging the investments of miners who had optimized their GPU cards to extract Ethash.

Apart from that, developers are firmly convinced that change can not be included in Constantinople. Alluding to this, Afri Schoedon, the communications officer for the Parity Technologies etereum provider, told CoinDesk that an ASIC effort "will not happen" at the next crossroads.

"Constantinople is definitive," Schoedon told CoinDesk.

Jameson echoed this, saying to CoinDesk: "There is no way in ProgPoW to go to Constantinople", but rather that it has the possibility of being included in the following hard fork (surnamed Istanbul), currently planned for eight months after Constantinople.

The delay could be daunting for the many miners demanding a code resistant to the ASIC. With yields falling rapidly, there is the possibility that the GPU mining community will move to new cryptocurrencies when Istanbul arrives.

But regardless, Minehan and his team are still optimistic.

He said:

"I just want to have everything finished and finished and then just point it out and say look guys is done, it's ready, adopt it if you want it, do not adopt it if you do not, I do not really care, but not say it's not ready to be implemented because it's finished. "

G raphic cards image via Shutterstock

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