A storm is brewing within the Ethereum mining community. ASIC miners (purpose built mining rigs), have been tolerated up until now, however, recent developments have struck a nerve with many that utilize traditional GPUs.
Shiny New Tech
The ASIC miners causing the kerfuffle are being released by hardware manufacture, Linzhi. These devices were announced at the Ethereum Classic Summit. A look at the following chart demonstrates just how far of a leap forward they represent compared to the current ETH ASIC device.
190 million hashes/sec
|1,400 million hashes/sec|
|8x power consumption vs. Linzhi||
1/8th of Bitmain’s power consumption
Despite the announcement having been made earlier this week, customers can expect to receive these new units at the beginning of Q2 2019.
Yay or Nay?
Miners make the coin. They provide decentralization, security, and the leg-work to keep things running. Those that maintain a more ideological stance towards cryptocurrency coins typically shy away from ASIC miners. Those that are simply interested in financial gains like them.
With the announcement of these new ETH ASIC devices the ETH community is split. Many miners currently contributing to the network feel spurned. This is because they have invested significant sums of money into their GPU bases mining rigs, essentially providing the foundation for the network over past years. With the introduction of high end ASIC devices, they will simply have to switch their hardware and mine a different coin, essentially allowing those with ASIC devices to profit off of the protocol that they bootstrapped through the difficult years of crypto.
For those that prioritize financial gain above all else, these miners are a welcome development. At the projected rate of return on these new devices, users can expect to break even within 4 months of ownership.
To battle those that are in favour of ASIC miners, many in the community have proposed a code update to the ETH protocol. This would mean the implementation of ASIC resistant code near the end of 2018.
Been there. Done that.
The Ethereum community is not the first to wage this battle. In a well-documented situation in mid-2018, privacy centric favourite, ‘Monero’, implemented a hard fork to maintain ASIC resistance.
Monero has always maintained a stance that mining should be as decentralized as possible, meaning that the more individual miners contributing to the network hash-rate, the better. As soon as ASIC miners enter the situation, most believe that centralization begins to occur.
By undergoing this hard-fork, the Monero community was split. With many having different beliefs on the best course of actions, Monero saw multiple variants of itself pop up.
To date, the vast majority of Monero users turn to XMR rather than one of the coin’s forked variants. Meanwhile, the developers have been able to maintain ASIC resistance.
A Growing Trend
While these two situations are the most noted to date, there are sure to be more similar situations arise in the future. While the industry is still relatively young, and network hash-rates are relatively small, large companies will look to take advantage. There will never be a better time to make money through the use of ASIC miners than now.