Ethereum Community Mulls Hard-Fork to Make Bitmain ASICs Obsolete


Ethereum developer Piper Merriam has opened up Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) #958, which requests community input in regards to whether or not the cryptocurrency’s blockchain should render the rumored Bitmain ASICs virtually obsolete. In doing so, Merriam has also suggested that Bitmain may already be mining with said ETH ASICs.

To Fork, or Not to Fork?

The Ethereum community has been stirred into action following reports that cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain has developed — and may already be using — Ethereum ASICs. Such hardware would effectively diminish the ability for GPU miners to compete and, in doing so, drastically increase centralization. Wrote Ethereum developer Piper Merriam in Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) #958:

“[…] BitMain may already running these miners. I believe it is the accepted wisdom that ASIC based mining leads to increases centralization when compared to GPU mining. This leads us to two questions: Should we hard fork to make ASIC mining harder and to demonstrate a willingness to hard fork any future ASIC based ethereum mining? What specifically changes do we make to implement this increased ASIC resistance?

Plenty of influential members in the community, like Nick Johnson, have already lent their two cents to the proposal.

However, the cryptocurrency’s potential (and controversial) shift from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake could render the entire debate surrounding Bitmain’s ASICs irrelevant, and developer Lefteris Karapetsas has gone on record to claim the hard fork would be a waste of “manpower/resources on such research if PoS is going to render this obsolete anyhow.”

Others in the community, like Philip Daian, believes developers of the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization should do nothing — or simply lower block rewards.

Core developer Vlad Zamfir, meanwhile, hasn’t expressed an explicit stance on the matter — though he claims users’ interests should take precedence over miners.

It is clear that Ethereum is currently at a crossroads — and the community must soon decide whether or not the risks of a hard fork outweigh those of letting Bitmain potentially centralize the ETH mining market. If early polls are any indicator, a hard fork may be on the horizon.

What do you think about Ethereum’s current predicament? Do you support a hard-fork or a switch to proof-of-stake? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Twitter/@nicksdjohnson, Twitter/@phildaian, Twitter/@VladZamfir, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Written by Adam James @ April 2, 2018 Adam James

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