Ethereum users would support adopting a hard fork that renders Ethereum ASIC miners obsolete, a new poll shows.
The poll, which was published on Twitter by Ethereum developer Vlad Zamfir, asked respondents whether they would support a hard fork that makes ASIC miners incompatible with Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) Ethash mining algorithm.
At the time of writing, 55 percent of the 4,904 respondents indicated that they would support a hard fork to make Ethereum ASIC miners ineffective, while just 14 percent said unequivocally that they would not support the fork. Eleven percent selected “It’s complicated,” while the remaining 20 percent just wanted to see the results.
Zamfir clarified that his poll was not in regard to a specific proposal, rather that he was just curious about the community sentiment.
ASICs — so named because they use Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips — are by far the most efficient and profitable way to mine cryptocurrencies. However, unlike CPU and GPU chips, which are general purpose and thus have multitudinous applications, ASICs can only be used in a single application and can be rendered obsolete by even a small update to a cryptocurrency’s mining algorithm.
As CCN.com reported, Wall Street research firm Susquehanna revealed during a recent trip to Asia that they had confirmed that Chinese mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain had already developed an Ethereum ASIC and was preparing to begin shipping it before the end of the second quarter.
To date, Ethash — which is also used by Ethereum Classic and a variety of other coins — has been ASIC-resistant, which allows the algorithm to be mined profitably using GPU chips.
However, since Bitmain is by far the dominant force in the ASIC market, their development of mining rigs for new PoW algorithms always leads to contentious debates about miner centralization.
Bitmain’s development of an Ethash ASIC is curious, given that Ethereum — by far the most popular Ethash cryptocurrency — plans to transition to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Consequently, some observers have taken this to mean that Bitmain believes that either Ethereum will ultimately fail to abandon PoW or that the shift to PoS will result in another Ethereum Classic-style hard fork.
That said, a hard fork to maintain ASIC resistance would not be unprecedented. Privacy-centric cryptocurrency Monero has committed to altering its version of the Cryptonight PoW algorithm every six months to inhibit the development of XMR-compatible miners. Nevertheless, Bitmain announced recently that it had developed a Cryptonight ASIC, and Monero stuck to its guns by adding an emergency measure that makes the miners incompatible with Monero to its upcoming network update.
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