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Zcash Responds to ASIC Threat

Bitmain is set to launch its new application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), the Antminer Z9 mini in June, which will be used for mining cryptocurrencies using the Equihash proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm. The Zcash Foundation was quick to respond, labeling the task of maintaining ASIC resistance an “immediate technical priority”.

Pleased to announce the Antminer Z9 mini, an ASIC miner to mine #Equihash-based cryptocurrencies. To prevent hoarding and to let more individuals worldwide get one, we’ve set a limit of one miner per user. Order here (https://t.co/LdIbpRrbgI) now while stock lasts!#AntminerZ9 pic.twitter.com/xJD58SKUfy

— BITMAIN (@BITMAINtech) May 3, 2018

Zcash (ZEC) prides itself on being a decentralized cryptocurrency with optional privacy for transactions. Many developers and members of the cryptocurrency community are opposed to ASICs as they feel they are a step towards centralization, which could lead to similar problems of traditional systems. ASICs are highly efficient compared with their GPU counterparts, and there is speculation that Bitmain mines privately in order to gain market dominance.

Effects of ASICs and centralization

If an entity of miners are allowed to establish a majority on the network, it leaves the system more vulnerable to manipulation. Disrupting the flow of hashing power to the network can affect transaction times, leading to higher fees. Centralization can also lead to a concentration of tokens held by a single group, which can then be used for so-called “pump and dump” schemes, further consolidating their share of the market.

Bitmain is already cornering the market with USD 4 billion of profit from its dedicated hardware. This can be re-invested into future ASIC technologies and token holdings, further increasing their edge over competitors and control of the market.

There are growing concerns about centralization and the effect it could have on the industry.

“Bitmain is in a position where the Chinese government can take over their equipment at any time; something they will no doubt do if Bitcoin grows enough to allow them to use their control of the hashrate to push a Chinese geopolitical agenda,” said Cobra, the anonymous owner of bitcoin.org and bitcointalk.org.

Others view the attempt to resist ASIC hardware as delaying the inevitable.

“Even if we manage to neuter a wave of Equihash ASICs, this will not be the end of the discussion. Inevitably, some new ASIC will arise, and we may have to go through this process again,” wrote Josh Cincinnati, executive director of Zcash Foundation.

 

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/120586634@N05/14673305874/ – Gareth Halfacree

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