Ethereum dev Piper Merriam opened Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) #958 on Github on March 30th, presenting the notion of a possible hard fork in the Ethereum (ETH) protocol to invalidate ETH ASICs.
Vlad Zamfir, another dev with the Ethereum Foundation, posed the same question on Twitter March 28th. FIfty seven percent of folks voted yes.
Both developers’ polls emerge amid rumors that the China-based ASIC manufacturer Bitmain is on the brink of shipping its first Ethash compatible ASIC miners.
Firstly, the algorithm requires miners to return the hash for data that has been randomly selected from transactions in the preceding block. Since “Ethereum contracts can include any kind of computation,” “an Ethereum ASIC would basically be an ASIC for general computation – i.e. a better CPU.”
The second means of defense is to “poison the well” which Vitalik further characterizes as “ultimately an adaptive human solution rather than a technical one.”
If a certain type of computation becomes prevalent then conventional miners can introduce “a large number of contracts into the Blockchain specifically designed to stymie certain ASICs”.
As CBNN reported in January, Bitmain’s profits topped the U.S GPU giant Nvidialast year. Additional research by Bernstein analysts estimated Bitmain’s profits to be between $3-4 billion for 2017, holding 70-80% of the total market for BTC miners as well as ASICs.
Ethereum’s informal poll regarding a possible hard fork follows the footsteps Monero’s rejection of centralized hashpower last month.
Monero dev-lead Riccardo Spagni noted that the coin’s protocol would be changed every six months to stymie potential ASIC monopolies. Rumors regarding possible deployment of Ethash compatible ASIC miners impacted Ethereum markets, according to several news outlets.