Some people really I do not like Jihan Wu. Bitmain, which produces industrial-grade chips that have ruined the mining game at home, is now unwelcome in another crypto community. Siacoin, an online network for distributed storage, announced an update of the "brick" protocol to the Bitmain and Innosilicon hardware that currently threaten to dominate both mining.
The surprise version of the specialized Siacoin ASICs, which allow the mining sector to be dominated by some deep players, has been taken into consideration. "A direct attack on the community" wrote lead developer David Vorick on the Sia blog.
Siacoin is not hostile to ASICs, and a community-led effort has raised several million dollars to finance their development from Nebulous, the parent company of Siacoin. After more than a year of development, Obelisk SC1 was launched at the start of this summer.
But they were not the only ones doing it. Months before the start of Obelisk, Bitmain revealed its own ASIC hardware, followed by Innosilicon shortly thereafter.
The release of Bitmain was particularly alarming, wrote Vorick, noting:
The first, Bitmain, has not announced their product until 10 days before shipping, effectively interrupting a multimillion-dollar project from the community without warning and almost provoking a civil war.
Machina Non Grata
Bitmain's ASIC revelation caused bitter fighting within the Siacoin community, including some requests for a difficult fork.
This is not the first crypto club to put Bitmain on the blacklist. At the start of this year, Monero's developers announced an emergency fork after Bitmain announced its first ASIC CryptoNote device, with the expectation of future changes to the algorithm to prevent ASIC development. The problem is also discussed among the developers of Ethereum.
ASICs are a sensitive issue for low-capitalization cryptocurrencies. Although the extraction with GPU is apparently more democratic than professional hardware, it also weakens the network up to 51% of the attacks. Several ASIC-resistant currencies, such as Bitcoin Gold and Verge, they have been the subject of double-expense attacks.
Kill Switch of Sia
But Siacoin is not saying goodbye to ASICs altogether. "[A]n The monopoly of the ASIC producer is strongly preferable to being a coin extracted from the GPU, " Vorick wrote. "We believe that embracing an ASIC monopoly is better than completely resisting ASICs."
In order to obtain a temporary monopoly against "unethical" ASIC producers, the Obelisk miner arrived with a cleverly hidden hatch. "Basically blake2b is a circuit" Vorick told Coindesk. "We just added a tiny extension in a smart place that you would not have just naively thought of adding that extension."
This extension of the circuit will allow the Obelisk machines to continue working after the rigid fork, giving Nebulous a three- or four-month advantage against the next generation of competing miners.
That lead will not last forever, but can allow the mining monopoly to fall into a company whose incentives are more in line with the success of Siacoin. "As long as the new producer contributes to the health of the mining ecosystem Sia and avoids abusive practices, the seat of power will be approved gracefully" Vorick wrote, but concluded with an ominous warning:
In case we need to build another manufacturer in the short term, Obelisk has prepared a chip that we can install and use to defend the network.
The author has investments in Ethereum.