Category Archives: Bitmain

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Cobra Bitcoin Believes Bitmain Controls 80% of Bitcoin Hash Rate

Cobra Bitcoin, the anonymous yet influential Bitcoin personality, has Tweeted his suspicions that giant mining firm Bitmain controls more than 80% of Bitcoin mining hash rate through mining pools that it owns, which means the network has become dangerously centralized. A co-owner of popular websites bitcoin.org and bitcointalk.org, Cobra is calling for a change of the proof-of-work mining protocol to save Bitcoin.

Bitcoin simply can’t be censorship resistant long term if the hashing power is controlled almost entirely by one entity. You can’t build ‘digital gold’ on something that can be shut down by one man, and needs rapid massive coordinated response amongst *everyone* to counter. pic.twitter.com/nQaBV5VHY4

— Cøbra (@CobraBitcoin) June 19, 2018

Cobra says a significant portion of the mining power from BTC.com, ViaBTC, and AntPool is from Bitmain, in addition to other pools. He says there needs to be a hashing power audit of these three large pools to verify how much is independently owned, in order to confirm if a problem really exists.

Anyone who controls 51% of the Bitcoin mining network’s hash rate could theoretically launch a 51% double spend attack. In this sort of attack, someone who controls most of the mining power on a blockchain network can send cryptocurrency to one address on the original blockchain, and then send the cryptocurrency to another address on a new blockchain that they start mining. Using this method the attacker gets their money back. 51% attacks have been successful on several smaller cryptocurrencies that have low network hash rates.

Some observers have said that the claims Cobra is making are perhaps a bit overdone. First off, there is no proof that Bitmain has a majority of network hash rate, aside from their claims of producing the most cost-effective mining technology. Additionally, Bitmain is deeply invested in Bitcoin – a successful 51% attack on Bitcoin would cause Bitcoin’s price to plummet and ruin the company’s reputation. Bitmain has been profitable for years and is unlikely to jeopardize its position in the industry.

Not only does Cobra want to get rid of the proof-of-work protocol, the online figure wants to get rid of miners completely. He says miners “are the root cause of all of Bitcoin’s problems” and “are no longer useful to the community”.

 

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Bitmain Considering Launching Public Stocks

Founder of Bitmain Technologies, Jihan Wu, said that he is considering launching a publicly-traded Bitmain stock on the Hong Kong or a United States stock exchange via an initial public offering (IPO). Bitmain is a global Bitcoin mining powerhouse, controlling as much as 80% of the market for cryptocurrency mining equipment.

Bitmain’s mining pools, Antpool and BTC.com, control 40% of the global Bitcoin mining network which generates a tremendous amount of money. If Bitmain launches a publicly-traded stock it will be an excellent way for investors to get a share of the flourishing Bitcoin mining industry. Kevin Wang, an analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia, says a Bitmain IPO would generate a lot of attention from Hong Kong investors.

Bitmain is now expanding into artificial intelligence technology, and this is a primary reason why Wu wants to get Bitmain publicly listed on a stock exchange.  The application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) used for cryptocurrency mining are ideal for the large amount of computations needed for artificial intelligence. An IPO would bring in funding that can be used for artificial intelligence development.

Part of the reason for Bitmain’s move into artificial intelligence is political. Large-scale cryptocurrency trading has been banned in China, and mining may be banned soon too, so Jihan Wu wants to have a ‘Plan B’ so Bitmain can survive. The Chinese government fully supports artificial intelligence development.

Wu says Bitmain is worth USD 12 billion and brought in USD 2.5 billion of revenue last year, and that he and his partner Micree Zhan control 60% of the company. Sequoia Capital and IDG Capital are early investors that own a large portion of Bitmain, and part of the reason Wu wants to launch a publicly-traded stock is so these early investors can cash out.

If successful Bitmain would be the largest cryptocurrency company with a publicly traded stock by far. This would be another major event in cryptocurrency’s transition to mainstream adoption.

 

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ASIC: Resistance Is Futile! Crypto’s Battle a Losing War?

At Consensus 2018, many blockchain software developers viewed Bitmain’s recent launch of their newest Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners as proof of the impending future for all cryptocurrencies. ASIC hardware will soon hit the markets for previously deemed ASIC-resistant cryptocurrencies such as EthereumMonero, and Zcash.

David Vorick, a founder of ASIC manufacturer Obelisk stated:

“I think any GPU-mined coin is going to become an ASIC-mined coin at some point. Bitmain has been pretty methodical about demonstrating this.”

Bitmain is one of the main manufacturers of ASIC miners. Looking at Blockchain.info, Bitmain’s BTC.com and Antpool mining pools also make up an excess of 40% of the hashing power on the network.

Cryptocurrencies to remain completely ASIC-resistant for how long?

Crypto developers believe the advancement in technology surrounding mining will continue to increase at a similar rate as to which the resistant code is developed to combat them.

Most ASIC-resistant algorithms were produced by software engineers with a pre-conceived idea of what custom hardware is capable of, mainly due to their limited understanding of the functionalities of the hardware.

We’ve been hopeful on how long the ASIC resistance will last. Samsung, IBM, and Intel are among the giants who are looking to develop dedicated mining hardware, while established companies such as Bitmain and Bitfury already dominate the market. General purpose technology like CPUs, GPUs, and even DRAM all make sacrifices in efficiency for particular tasks in order to facilitate a wider deployment. To make a comparison, most mobile phones are capable of taking pictures but won’t compare to a standalone camera’s quality as it sacrifices that for portability and other functionalities. For that reason, general purpose hardware will always be limited and will often be superseded by dedicated machinery.

With ASICs being developed so rapidly, they can often slip under the radar in secret mining operations. Several months ago, an ASIC Monero mining operation was exposed which was rumored to have been running since early 2017. It was estimated that the secret ASICs accounted for more than 50% of the hash rate. This kind of network dominance could have led to a 51% attack at any time.

Vorick continues to explain how preventative measures taken by developers only delay the inevitable:

“The strategy of hardforking ASICs off of a network is going to lose potency the more it happens, because chip designers do have the ability to make chips that are flexible, anywhere from slightly flexible to highly flexible, with each piece of flexibility costing only a bit of performance. The Monero devs have committed to keeping the same general structure for the PoW algorithm, and because of that commitment, we believe that you could make a Monero miner capable of surviving hard forks with less than a 5x hit to performance.”

ASIC vs ASIC

ASICs have already got a strong foothold in the network with the future of management rather than mitigation an inevitable reality. Although we have to ask was there ever really a war against ASICs? Nvidia, Intel, and other companies identify their technology as ASICs internally but us as customers are familiar with these products for their more generic use. The main controversial topic surrounding ASICs is more of centralization and network control.

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Image Source: Gareth Halfacree - Asus Tinkerboard

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Bitmain Accused of Selling “Seriously Inadequate” Hardware

The world’s largest cryptocurrency mining equipment manufacturer Bitmain has been accused of providing ”seriously inadequate” hardware reportedly caked with dust, leading to speculation that second-hand units are being sold as new.

The accusation

Cryptocurrency miners reached out to Zooko Wilcox, the founder, and CEO of Zerocoin Electric Coin Company, explaining the ongoing dispute with Bitmain over the hardware they received.

“Someone privately sent me these allegations [in Chinese]…along with Bitmain’s response,” Wilcox said. Adding, ”The communication gap between the West and China makes it hard to disentangle.”

As reported, one of the miners that shared their accusation with Wilcox wrote on the predominant Chinese social media platform QQ that the B3 Miner of Bitmain they had received provided “seriously inadequate” computing power compared to previous batches.

A photograph was also provided by the group, showing a B3 Miner coated in dust, leading them to believe the unit they received had been previously used.

Bitmain’s response

Bitmain responded by confirming that they had verified with their internal department that indeed, 100 ASIC mining units were found to have what was described as minor issues. In context, of 10,000 units per batch, only 1 percent of these were impacted.

The statement from Bitmain can be translated loosely from Chinese to: “Among the right defenders, some are refunded and after an investigation, it was revealed that some are still underpowered and some are repaired. Some media outlets claimed that a few hundred people have received mining equipment that is poorly functioning. This is not the case.”

The team from Bitmain noted that just as in every major manufacturing operation, it is not possible to guarantee every ASIC miner corresponds perfectly to its functionality brief.

Emphasizing that any inadequate hardware would be compensated, Bitmain stated: “Any product can be imperfect, and there will be shortcomings in the process of enterprise development. We have also compensated the miners who have received mining equipment with inadequate computing power and the mining equipment are now being run properly.”

The company clarified that should any further issues arise, any customer issues a sub-standard mining unit would receive full compensation.

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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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Ethereum ASIC Miners Set To Reach Market This July

Cryptocurrency mining hardware firm Bitmain confirmed the release of its rumored Ethereum ASIC miners on Monday. The technology is priced at USD 800 per unit and is scheduled to reach the market in July this year.

In a statement released by Bitmain on Twitter, the company noted that the Antminer E3 would have an ”ordering limit of one miner per user and [is] not available in China”, although the Bitmain website appears to state each buyer can now purchase up to five units during this round of pre-orders. Miners are only available to purchase via BCH (Bitcoin Cash) or USD.

We are pleased to announce the Antminer E3, world’s most powerful and efficient EtHash ASIC miner.
Ordering limit of one miner per user and not available in China.
Limited stock, order here now: https://t.co/Zfw3afjJHs#antminerE3 pic.twitter.com/SjHu2eUThp

— BITMAIN (@BITMAINtech) April 3, 2018

The miners are the first of their kind to integrate Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips into their design, reportedly significantly increasing the efficiency of the mining process compared to general purpose GPU chips that are currently used in similar products.

Bitmain is advertising the Antminer E3 as generating a minimum of 180 MH/s. Although they have not yet reached the market, Ethereum’s notably increased hash rate in recent months could be a result of Bitmain’s private usage of the mining technology.

Despite Ethereum formerly being resistant to ASIC chips, rumors of the mining hardware have been circulating since Wall Street research firm Susquehanna revealed to clients they could confirm Bitmain’s product during a trip to Asia.

For the benefit of Ethereum?

Speculations over the direction this will take Ethereum have been mixed. For one, its technical roadmap schedules a shift away from proof-of-work, the system that allows for mining to take place at all.

As well as this, there are skeptics in the Ethereum community that doubt the ASIC chip will be capable of having a significant impact on the mining process at all, and if it does, they assume it would not inspire widespread adoption as in the case of Bitcoin ASICs.

While there are some that argue the development is a net positive for the industry, it is problematic if ASIC does indeed have an enormous impact on the efficiency of Ethereum mining, as this centralizes hash power to a small number of corporations. Right now, Bitmain’s monopoly is unrivalled.

It is likely that if the Antminer E3 does work highly efficiently, calls for Ethereum to execute a hard fork in restoring ASIC resistance will be pursued. This was the case for Monero who protested the release of Bitmain’s Cryptonight ASIC miner.

Despite the controversy surrounding the mining software, many have predicted the limited number Antminer E3s will sell out prior to their official market release in July.

 

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Ethereum Markets React to Rumored ASIC Miners

Rumors surrounding a new Ethereum mining rig from leading mining hardware provider Bitmain have resulted inEthereum prices dropping below a one-week high of USD 585. Ethereum isn’t the only blockchain network wary of new Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) mining tech, with Monero already set to resist ASIC mining earlier this week.

Rumors with substance

The stories sparked up when CNBC reported a statement Susquehanna analyst Christopher Rolland had written to clients:

“During our travels through Asia last week, we confirmed that Bitmain has already developed an ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] for mining Ethereum, and is readying the supply chain for shipments in 2Q18. While Bitmain is likely to be the largest ASIC vendor (currently 70-80% of Bitcoin mining ASICs) and the first to market with this product, we have learned of at least three other companies working on Ethereum ASICs, all at various stages of development.”

Traditionally, Ethereum has been mined using GPUs, but the new ASIC from Bitmain would result in even higher entry barriers for the casual miner. The most devoted of crypto enthusiasts see this as an antithesis to the blockchain ideology; ASIC mining rigs are often at the centre of controversies and are far more expensive than the GPUs used primarily by gamers, outclassing them in mining power.

Cause for controversy

While ASIC chips have been Bitmain’s powerhouses for mining Bitcoin and Bitmain’s mining pools account for significant portions of all the processing power on the global Bitcoin network, they are still finding themselves coming up against a great deal of resistance.

The shakeup comes down to the technology creating such high barriers that lead down a road of centralization. On top of that, GPU mining competition could be threatened by the new hardware, potentially causing GPUs to become obsolete, forcing miners to move to other newer cryptocurrencies despite the fact that GPU mining has proven profitable for Ethereum miners so far.

Even Monero appears to be taking on Bitmain. Earlier in the month, Bitmain announced the latest rollout of purpose-built Monero mining rigs, the Antminer X3. This, according to a post made by Monero, opens plenty of issues for the network and does not fit with its network ethos.

It is not clear what the ASIC boom will bring to the competition of the global mining arena, but the contentious tech could spell an end for GPU cryptocurrency mining and perhaps the majority Ethereum GPU mining.

 

 

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