On Friday, 6 April 2018, the Ethereum Development Team discussed their reaction to the coming of ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) miners from Bitmain – now available for presale with an expected delivery beginning in July. The device was introduced on the Bitmain website last week at $800 each on pre-order, but it now appears to have a retail price of $1,800. See the Bitmain device for sale HERE.
The news we’ve heard is that “Vitalik decided to do nothing about ASICs”, and that is only partly true. These are the points that Vitalik made in the meeting, which others agreed with:
1) They just don’t know enough about the device (e.g., is it programmable?) or what change would make sense right now.
2) Vitalk discussed having a side project to develop a path to change the hashing algorithm (to SHA3 or a variant) so they could implement a change later if ASICs appear to be gaining too much of the hash power of the network.
3) They are also less concerned because of the implied efficiency of the Bitmain device being only 2.5X better than GPUs. They will become much more concerned if it becomes apparent that ASICs are far more efficient (such as with Bitcoin’s SHA-256 or Monero’s Cryptonight algorithm).
So, as we expected, there was no action by the Ethereum Dev Team right now.
Should ASIC miners become a threat, the Dev Team will rethink their response to them, but for now their focus will remain on the most important tasks, including scalability (sharding), Proof of Stake (Casper), and interconnectivity (Plasma). These projects are – and should be – the most important things for them and the Ethereum user community.
Full speed ahead for Vitalik, Hudson, and the team!