Folks at Wall Street might be developing a few jitters with the new coming out of Bitmain, the largest crypto mining hardware manufacturer in the world. With the mining giant set to release its newly created EtHash ASIC miner, AMD and Nvidia are about to face stiff competition. While Bitmain dominates the bitcoin mining scene, AMD and Nvidia dominate the Ethereum mining scene. Due to the newly designed ASIC mining units, Wall Street is concerned that Bitmain could potentially upstage AMD and Nvidia.
The New Antminer E3 from Bitmain
In a tweet posted by Bitmain on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, the company announced the launch of the Antminer E3. This new mining hardware unit is touted as being the most powerful and efficient EtHash ASIC miner available capable of delivering faster and more cost-effective Ethereum mining capabilities than the conventional AMD and Nvidia powered GPU mining hardware. Bitmain also announced that the hardware units will be ready for shipping later in the summer with each unit costing $800 each.
AntMiner E3, Image from Bitmain
This announcement came after weeks of intense speculation that the company was developing such a hardware unit. With this announcement, some of the worst fears of Wall Street for both AMD and Nvidia seemed to have been realized. Before ASICs became a thing for bitcoin mining, the scene was dominated by CPU and GPU-based mining. These days, Bitmain reportedly controls 35 percent of the hashing capacity of the Bitcoin network. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect such a scenario to play out in Ethereum as well.
According to analysts at Bernstein, Bitmain may have made as much profit as Nvidia in 2017. These same analysts stated that the majority of Bitmain’s revenue comes from the sale of cryptocurrency mining rigs. In March, analysts at Susquehanna significantly lowered its price target for the shares of both AMD and Nvidia due to the rumors of an impending Bitmain Ethereum mining rig. This was based on the estimation of analysts at Susquehanna which revealed that the sale of Ethereum mining rigs accounted for 20 percent of AMD revenue and 10 percent of Nvidia revenue.
Potential Effect on Ethereum
AMD and Nvidia aren’t the only ones that could potentially be affected by the Bitmain foray into Ethereum mining. The Ethereum network itself might be staring down the barrel of a conundrum. A large part of its operating philosophy is to have a network that is resistant to ASIC. This is due in large part to fact that ASIC mining is usually the precursor to monopolization and centralization of a blockchain network. In fact, when the rumours began to circulate, there was an uproar in the blockchain community of social media.
In response, there have been calls for the development team at Ethereum to try and prevent the Bitmain EtHash miners from being functional on the network. Some have suggested a hard fork or some other protocol shift in order to render the blockchain immune to ASIC mining. Vlad Zamfir one of the lead developers at Ethereum even posted a twitter poll on the subject. Out of 6903 votes, 57 voted “Yes” in favor of a hard fork that would make the ethereum blockchain immune to ASICs.