After the recent Bitmain gearing of a new ASIC chip designed to mine Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin has gone on record as saying that he is opposed to the whole idea of inhibiting the capacity of the pending mining rigs. Developers on the Ethereum platform have vowed to fork away from current structures and so inhibit the emergence of giant mining houses that monopolize mining.
Developers want to tweak the Ethereum software in such a way as to keep a level playing field, where someone who has a home-based GPU card and anyone who has a more extensive assembly of ASIC mining rigs mining the network, both have equal opportunity to derive rewards. Proposals have centered on capping the performance of the ASIC mining hardware by introducing a fork, and then another so that the coin always stays ahead of attempts at mining domination by any one party.
Buterin Suggests Ethereum has Other Priorities
Buterin was commenting at a biweekly Ethereum developers meeting on April 6, 2018. The core development team is abuzz with varying reactions to Bitmain’s Antminer 3 launch earlier in the week.
On April 3, 2018, Bitmain announced the launch of the Antminer 3 that has sparked controversy in the Ethereum community, with many coming out as vehemently against the prospect of aggressive ASIC mining of the currency. Those opposed to the idea favour a fork that will render the new mining rigs immediately redundant.
Piper Merriam, the Ethereum core developer, has outlined a technical proposal ( EIP 958 )detailing how the digital currency could fork away from the Bitmain mining rigs’ ability and maintain the use of GPUs as the default and egalitarian mining app.
Buterin, however, while not expressing a strong lean in favour of either direction, felt that the huge effort of coordination the fork would require was possibly not worth it, saying:
“Getting everybody to upgrade is likely to be fairly chaotic and detract from more important things. So, at this point, I personally lean quite significantly towards no action.”
Buterin also has scalability and other issues facing the coin on his mind.
Merriam, who has led the anti camp that supports writing itself away from Bitmain’s potential, was also at pains to point out that any fork would be only a temporary solution. It would mitigate the Antminer 3’s impact in the short term but would not grant indefinite protection. It would merely “break existing hardware,” Merriam said.
Buterin responded by saying that it might be a moot point and could also divert energy and focus from a pending change that would render ASIC mining null and void for good. The meeting granted a glimpse of Ethereums’ earlier initiation of a move away from ASIC mining potential, with Hudson Jameson, the Community Manager, saying that in May 2018 the code is set to undergo a formal verification process and that it’s anticipated lasting around five months.
He did, however, encourage the community to continue their efforts if they felt so inclined, saying that if a majority enabled a fork it could happen without the participation of the core development team.
“If the community truly wants this to happen and has a good enough reason we can definitely do that, but for right now it sounds like [the] consensus of the core devs [is] to not do anything at this time,” Jameson said.
A Possible Future Cap on Ether
At the same meeting, Buterin also returned to his recent proposal about capping ether issuance. He said that dependent upon sanction by the community, a cap on issuance might accompany the next network upgrade. Ether has long been seen as undervalued by many as the ERC-20 token and Ethereum platform is so widely employed, featuring in most ICOs and slowly becoming something of an ICO standard.