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ASIC Miners and Cryptocurrency - TechAmok

ASIC Miners and Cryptocurrency - [briefly]
04:22 PM EDT - Apr,09 2018 - post a comment

This is actually a very good article over at Motherboard about ASICs and what sort of wide reaching effects those could have on the cryptocurrency markets, specifically Monero and Ethereum.
If cryptocurrency is disrupting finance, then powerful computer chips known as ASICs are disrupting cryptocurrency. Their mere existence turned securing the Bitcoin blockchain, which in the network's early days could be done at home by average users, into a massive industry that eats up unholy amounts of electricity and generates ridiculous profits for hardware manufacturers.

Now, these specialized chips, called application specific integrated circuits (ASICs), are coming for other blockchains. On March 15, the multibillion dollar Chinese company Bitmain tweeted that it was accepting orders for the Antminer X3, a $12,000 ASIC that would be good for only one thing: Mining Monero and other digital currencies secured with the same algorithm. Only two weeks later, on April 3, Bitmain announced the E3, an $800 chip made specifically for mining Ethereum. ASICs like the E3 and X3 are controversial in the cryptocurrency community. Although they are both more efficient at mining compared to graphics cards and CPUs, they are also far more expensive, in short supply, and arguably a driving force behind the centralization of computing power (and the financial rewards from mining) on cryptocurrency networks.

Given how this changed the landscape of Bitcoin mining-leading to the rise of giants like Bitmain in China and BitFury in the US-Monero and Ethereum were designed to be 'ASIC-resistant.'

Now, the release of the X3 and E3 ASIC miners has sparked an ongoing debate within the cryptosphere about how to address what many see as an existential threat to the integrity of the Monero and Ethereum networks.

"I will do everything in my power to help the community prevent the proliferation of centralization-inducing ASICs on the Monero network," Riccardo Spagni, a lead Monero developer, wrote on GitHub in February in response to rumors about a possible Monero ASIC.

On April 6, Monero tweaked its mining algorithm 'to curb any potential threat of ASICs and preserve ASIC resistance.' That same day, Ethereum core developers met to discuss whether they should change Ethereum's algorithm and ultimately decided not to for the time being, much to the chagrin of the Ethereum community.


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