Category Archives: Bitmain

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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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