When it comes to mining Bitcoin, most know that it is essential to utilize an ASIC miner, such as those on offer from Bitcoin, a manufacturer of mining rigs based in China. They have speed that makes it possible to mine for Bitcoins, which GPU and CPU setups simply cannot do anymore. However, those “old school” types of setups still work for other types of cryptocurrency, including Ethereum. It is also what everyone mining in this field is using currently.
Could an ASIC Miner Be Coming to Ethereum?
Of course, it appears that there is a chance that things might change for those who are mining Ether. In March, Bitmain said that they were going to be releasing a device called the Antminer E3, an ASIC that would be capable of cloud mining Ethereum. Some feel that this is a good thing, and that it will help to relieve the burden that has been facing graphics processing unit manufacturers in recent years. In fact, the price of GPUs has gone up because the demand is so high for digital currency mining.
However, many in the Ethereum community worry that this addition of the E3 could cause more issues due to mining centralization. When this cryptocurrency was created, it was supposed to be resistant to ASIC since it relied on fast memory, and memory was an area where ASIC miners struggled. With the E3, it appears that Bitmain has solved the issue of memory problems with ASIC devices, and if that’s the case, you can expect to see a similar path with Ethereum that Bitcoin has already traversed.
It means that if ASIC Ethereum mining rigs are introduced to the Ethereum mining market, they are going to kill of the ability to mine using 6-8 GPUs, just like what happened with Bitcoin. In fact, according to the rumors of the E3 release, the device is only going to cost around $800, which is less than what it would cost to set up a GPU rig of the same power.
Considering the Hard Fork
Those in the community believe that ASIC based mining will lead to increased centralization. In fact, Piper Merriam, Ethereum developed, posed a question in Ethereum Improvement Proposal #958 that asked if they should “hard fork as a means to make ASIC mining harder and to demonstrate a willingness to hard fork any future ASIC based Ethereum mining?”
While Ethereum as a community has not decided what they are going to be doing about the imminent arrival of the ASIC devices for mining Ether, they are starting to run out of time. The first wave of the new miners should be hitting the market sometime in July of 2018.
So, What Is a Hard Fork?
Of course, those who are relatively new to the cryptocurrency community might be wondering just what a hard fork is, why it matters, and what it could all mean. A hard fork is going to occur when the developers of the cryptocurrency, Ethereum in this case, find that they need to make changes to the programming of the coin, which as going to make the older and newer versions incompatible with one another. This type of chance is not something to take lightly, as it means that all of the people who are using that coin will need to update their applications in order to use the coin type. A hard fork takes quite a bit of planning and work, and it should be something that the entire community agrees on before initiating. At the time of this writing, it is still not clear exactly what Ethereum will be doing.