New Ethereum ASIC dominates GPU mining performance
Canaan has presented a new Ethereum ASIC that is more than 5 times more efficient than commercially available GPUs. This does not bode well for small miners and threatens to reinforce the centralization of the network.
A new Ethash ASIC
At the New Era Mining Summit in China, Canaan today presented a new Ethereum Ethash ASIC. The ASIC is said to easily outperform the GPU-based miners on efficiency basis.
With the most common standard for comparing different crypto-mining devices – watts per megahash per second (W / MHs) – Canaan’s new ASIC is brutally more powerful than publicly available computer hardware.
Based on well-documented performance data, the new ASIC provides a 5.3 to 7.5-fold increase in efficiency over traditional computer hardware. It appears the equipment is not being developed directly by Canaan, but it is being sold by its domestic sales team in China.
“It’s a little hard to explain, but these are not products designed and built by Canaan Engineering. These are products that are sold by the domestic sales team and are not an official Kanaan product worldwide “, said a company representative.
Problems for Ethereum
The news is quite problematic for the Ethereum network. Ethash, the mining algorithm used by Ethereum, was deliberately designed to be ASIC-resistant. There are several reasons for this design choice – especially accessibility and decentralization.
Only a few manufacturers dominate the crypto ASIC business. These actors then have extensive control over who has access to competitive prices for the only efficient miner on the market.
These manufacturers can also generate huge margins. Unlike other computer equipment, pricing for crypto-mining equipment is based on the profit it can make as a cash machine – and not at the expense of the underlying materials, such as the “conventional” computer hardware industry.
In addition, because of their direct access to cheap hardware, they can also dominate network mining – much like Bitmain and Canaan already use Bitcoin. At the moment, there are strong indications that the two Mining Juggernauts are between. However, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and many other core developers claim that ASICs are not a threat. In April of last year, Bitmain released its F3 Ethereum Miner – a graphics processor that removed the redundant components to reduce production costs. The F3 had only a two-fold cost advantage over mainstream devices, per piece, at the time of release.
In response to the release, Vitalik Buterin told other Ethereum core developers that ASICs would not pose a threat to the network. He also argued that if Ethereum changed its mining algorithm, miners would have been in “6 – Months “figured out how they can crack it. Such an effort would only distract from the faster implementation of ETH 2.0, he claims.
“This is not Bitcoin. The miners have no control here. This is not Bitcoin; the miners have no control here. If there’s a day when Bitmain has the majority of the hash power and tries to use it for evil, then we’ll accelerate the Casper development and go to hell with all the remaining bugs, “Vitalik Buterin said.
Community Debate on ProgPOW
Now the community is involved in a separate debate on ProgPOW, an algorithm that would allegedly improve mining efficiency between ASICs, GPUs, and FPGAs in a way that advocates find hard to optimize.
However, the change encounters strong resistance, in part due to the authorship of former “Core Scientific” CTO Kristy-Leigh Minehan. Other Ethereum stakeholders are concerned that such a change could bring about a fork – both in the community and on the network.
Overall, development will hamper access to ethereum mining for hobbyists and the general public as these ASICs continue to expand.