Ethereum Core developers have given the nod to a proposal seeking to introduce an update to the Ethereum’s consensus algorithm.
In the Friday meeting, the team discussed the endorsement the ProgPoW, an ASIC-resistant proposal that aims at reducing the incentive for miners to use ASICs when mining ETH.
The update would make the use of the specialized mining chips unattractive, specifically by optimizing GPU efficiency.
Hudson Jameson, who led the call for the approval, affirmed that Ethereum developers would be proceeding with the update “unless major problems [are] found with it when testing on testnet.”
Application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) chips for mining Ethereum only surfaced in the second half of 2018. When mining giant Bitmain released its latest mining device for Ethereum, the Antminer E3, the ETH community began to explore ways of combating use of ASICs.
The community’s move to push for ASIC-resistant Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) gained even more impetus when a former engineer at Canann Creative announced that he would release a new chip called Linzhi.
Linzhi is said to be a considerably more efficient ASIC chip for Ethereum mining compared to the Antminer E3. The new project claims that their chip consumes only one-eighth of the power that Bitmain’s Antminer E3 consumes.
Combating ASIC chips ‘arms race.’
The ProgPoW proposal gets its push from the concerted efforts of mining hardware manufacturers to develop and launch ASIC devices specific to Ethereum. It is a kind of ‘arms race’ that the Ethereum core developers would not want to see until the platform adopts the Proof of Stake (PoS) algorithm.
The approval will see the marginal benefit that ASIC miners have over GPU mining, which would see the ‘chip arms race’ reduce as Ethereum moves towards PoS.
In response to questions about the divide between ASIC and GPU rewards distribution, a contributor to the ProgPoW, one Mr. Else clarified:
“ETHhash ASICs on the market can be about 2x better… the ones on the market right now that use DDR4 are [marginally better]… The DDR6 base ETHhash set to launch will be ~2x better than any [chips] existing…but ProgPoW takes that 2x down to 1.1x – 1.2x.”
The proposal did not attract a lot of pushback from the developer community regarding the call but has seen some confusion creep in within the community. There is that take that such calls are a distraction that from scheduled hard forks.
Some see it as favoring one group (GPU miners) as well as an “unnecessary non-zero chance” for a chain split.
The implementation timeline remains uncertain, although call participants did note that 95 percent of what is needed to move to the next step is ready. The next steps in the timeline are for client teams which have to complete their “homework” before the expected implementation.
According to Ethereum Foundation’s Security Lead Martin Holst Swende, the move should be made swiftly as it will “postpone ASICs for at least a year,” giving the platform more time as to fine-tune preparations for Proof of Stake (PoS).
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