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Kill Switch Engage: Both Cryptocurrency to block Bitmain and other Big Miners

After almost a year of bitter debate, the blockchain Sia is moving to give the big mining companies the boot.

David Vorick, founder and CEO of Nebulous, the for-profit company behind the $ 233 million distributed storage protocol, told CoinDesk it will soon be promoting a software change to block certain types of specialized mining hardware from the platform , allowing the hardware produced by Nebulous subsidiary Obelisk to remain one of the few ways to reap the lucrative benefits of the blockchain cryptocurrency.

"Both decided to entrust the Innosilicon and Bitmain hardware to obsolete or bricks," said Vorick, referring to Obelisk's rival manufacturers of specific mining equipment for the application of integrated circuits (ASICs) for Siacoin.

In a draft declaration on the decision acquired by CoinDesk, Vorick wrote that the company wants to embrace an "ASIC monopoly", supporting system-level updating, or hard fork – "it is better than resisting entirely to the ASICs ". Having said this, he added: "We do not believe that a cryptocurrency should embrace a parasitic or violent ASIC monopoly".

Continuing, Vorick pointed out that the code change is optional, and is configured in such a way as to "allow a group of dissidents to easily separate and be on a separate blockchain where the hard fork has never been implemented. ". According to the blog post, such a division will have no impact on the functionality of the Sia network.

Yet, Vorick portrayed the change of code as an almost unanimous decision taken by the community, and this thread of Reddit – the closest thing to an official vote in the community – seems to show broad support for the decision. Expressed feelings represent a change since January, when another proposal to blame Siacoin has failed.

During those months of coming and going, some members of the community appeared worried about the consolidation of nebulous power as they were for Bitmain or Innosilicon (this last, Vorick clarified, is the "monopoly" he has in mind).

Meanwhile, some in the community saw a crossroads as a rescue of the Nebulous obelisk – a way to bring back time to production delays, political cracks and threats of legal action. The Reddit post containing the proposal supports, however, that "seeks to protect community members who have invested in ASIC Obelisk units", not the company itself.

Innosilicon Bricking

In his statement and in an interview with CoinDesk, Vorick described the motivation and method for building Innosilicon ASIC miners.

Vorick said Innosilicon controls 37.5 percent of the total extraction power of the grid through its mining operation. The company also sells ASIC to other miners. Since "they have the only platform that can compete", wrote Vorick, Innosilicon is able to charge a 100 percent estimate on this hardware.

Speaking with CoinDesk, he described the method behind the so-called Sia kill switch, or the software changes to disable the hardware that will be activated by the fork:

"Basically blake2b [Sia’s hash algorithm] it's a circuit, and we've only added a miniscule extension to an intelligent place that you would not have just naively thought of adding that extension. So basically, we made our circuit slightly more complex in some sort of random way, and this is something we do not expect anyone else to expect. "

As a result, as soon as the nodes of the network adopt the update, the chips designed to run the unaltered blake2b algorithm will be useless for Siacoin mining.

"We believe this will cause tens of millions of dollars of hardware to break," said Vorick.

In particular, other networks have considered or followed with similar forks to disable ASICs. For example, Monero did it in April, and the momentum is building towards a similar change in the second blockchain by market capitalization, ethereum.

Sia's decision is unique, however, as the goal is not to keep the ASIC off the net – Vorick wrote that this is a lost battle and decreases the security of a currency – but to block the ASICs made by particular companies.

If Innosilicon and Bitmain move as fast as possible to produce new hardware, he told CoinDesk, they might be able to replace brick ASICs in three to four months. In the meantime, the miners sold by Sia Obelisk's sister association will manage the network.

But there are risks inherent in such a fork.

Vorick noted in a blog post that, in the short term, the move to remove the hardware – which currently includes most of the network's hrhrate – will be "a step back" for Sia's security. However, the developer continued by saying that the effort will lead to a "healthy mining community and greater general difficulty" in the long run.

Fork & Protectionist & # 39;?

For some, the decision to exclude certain ASICs to favor the hardware produced by a nebulous subsidiary is suspect. Vorick said the decision "came from the community" and met "almost no dissent", but it is likely to be seen by some as a decision taken by Nebulous to its advantage.

"This Obelisk fork is an example of the development team acting as a central influence to change the network protocol to save its investment," wrote a Reddit user in August, when the fork was still under discussion. "This kind of centralized influence is exactly what we try to avoid in the blockchain world."

Another user called the "protectionist" fork.

To understand the debate that is taking place – and that this decision may or may not be completed – it is necessary to return to June 2017, when the Obelisk has been publicly unveiled, together with its plans to sell an ASIC Sia.

In December, said Vorick, Sia's developers were already receiving "unverifiable" suggestions (detailed by a community member on both Medium) that someone had secretly built their own ASIC and was using it to extract Siacoin. The following month, Bitmain publicly revealed his ASIC Sia, and it soon became clear that the company was using it to extract it from the network since November.

Innosilicon then announced a faster blake2b ASIC in April, replacing the Bitmain product.

If being beaten on the market twice was not serious enough, Obelisk missed the goal of 30 June to send the first batch of ASIC for weeks, leading to threats of legal action from at least two parties, as reported by CoinDesk in August .

Zach Herbert, vice president of Obelisk for operations, has declared legal threats: "The obelisk has less than five lawsuits for minor disputes and arbitration requests in various jurisdictions, while we received legal threats from a couple of customers , no one has taken legal action against Obelisk or Nebulous. "

As for the possibility that Nebulous is pushing a fork to reduce legal threats against his subsidiary, Herbert rejected this idea.

"We do not believe that the fork both will have a significant impact on existing legal actions," he told CoinDesk.

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