An idea for investigation for the foundation


I sorry if I am posting this in the wrong place.

I would really appreciate it if the foundation could acknowledge this post and if it will be considered with their ASIC resistance investigation.

Technical and political aspects of ASIC mining aside. I am trying to address the decentralisation and the availability problem that asics may introduce.
To keep this post fairly short I have cut a lot of detail out. I feel it still keeps the intent I was going for though. feel free to ask for clarification.

The greatest non technical obstacle I can see to the acceptance of asic mining hardware is the distribution of the machines. This leads to all sorts of real and perceived issues.

Bitcoin faced a similar thing back in 2013 when asics were generally only available from a handful of vendors, but lots of vapoware / working prototypes with no real way to mass production.

At that time a number of companies tried or did sell the reels of the asics. This seemed to workout okay for everyone except the little guy. You couldn’t buy 1 chip. only reels at around 30k each (3,000 chips per reel), let alone find a board to put 1 chip on. (this was not an issue with FPGA’s)

Here is a link to a bitcointalk auction for two reels of bitfury ASICS to give context to what I am proposing.


I havent done the conversion maths though. so I cannot really say what this would be in equivalent hash/watt/cost today. It is the idea that is important.

Zcash co&fo is in a much stronger position in regards to hardware than bitcoin was. They are a fully fledged company and non profit that has the founders reward incentive. Apart from that the market is now a lot more mature and the idea of bespoke hardware, while contentious, is accepted.

The foundation has the potential to make ASIC equihash miners commodity hardware. Because of the way the foundation is designed they can make business decisions that would be ‘company confidential’ in a normal business. However the foundation can do the work, then release it all for free and still see a major net benefit to the community, coin and foundation.

I would like to foundation to consider the following business model? (calling it a business model is a stretch but I have run out of words) Please dont beat me up on these numbers they are just for illustrative purposes.

it would work something like this:

  • the foundation pays for reference board designs to be made (via tender) [as example of network impact they would be like buying the equivalent to 1x1070 (5chips), 5x1070(25 chips), 5x1080ti(40 chips) are to the network today in terms of capital outlay cost and coins per watt]
  • The foundation would release these designs to the public in an opensource manner. They could also partner with companies like Olimex so they can sell individual boards at cost price. note: these are boards only.

These board designs can also be supplied to ASIC designers for compatibility reasons, and to allow more advanced companies to produce a more optimised product.

  • The foundation works out deals to buy asic chip reels from companies like bitfury/bitmain/etc - they sell these in small quantities that match thier open source miners. so I can buy 1 or 100… for example. however it would probably work out cheaper for major players to buy off the bespoke board designers that might put 200 chips on a board.
  • The foundation works on supply deals for the entire BOM for each type of board and offers digikey afflation or similar.
    -The foundation works on supply chains for other potential limited hardware (ddr4/controllers/fpgas/arm cores/etc)

The foundation also offers a reference design fully assembled version at cost using a supplier like olimex or pcbtrain, etc.

This only really works because the foundation is a not for profit. they would also have to sell individual chips, etc.

This is very similar to how nvidia and amd work with their board partners, it is just they do not opensource the reference design. It is also worth noting that the internals of the asic can remain proprietary, like a normal gpu chip is.

does the foundation see this as a possibility? and if any of this doesnt make sense please just ask.



Is this only for foundation members to answer or can everybody answer with his opinion?
Just asking as it’s directed to the foundation and just in case it’s put here not for forum members and discussion…


It is directed at the foundation, but it open for anyone to comment on. I just titled it like this and put it in this forum to hopefully ensure the foundation sees it and responds.

Any ideas, criticisms, suggestions, questions, are all greatly welcome.

The more discussion the more developed the idea gets. (in theory anyway)


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Pinging @acityinohio and @amiller to respond to this as well.

I think you’ve posed an interesting idea, but it’s probably over-ambitious given our current organizational capacity. On top of that, selling a product would skew our incentives, and it might be illegal given our 501(c)(3) status.

Sorry to sound like such a pessimist, though! I appreciate that you’re dreaming big!



Thanks for the quick response! the idea is pretty ambitious, but, you do already have some companies approaching the foundation with the technical skills to do something like this (so far ePIC in public). There are a number of other players who have these abilities.

The only two specialist parts would be the asic and the design of the asic board. so the foundation would just have to negotiate with people like bitmain, ePIC, bitfury, etc. The sourcing of all of the components and assembly, etc can be handled by a couple of experienced electronics purchasers using well established supply channels.

The key part is the foundation doesn’t actually do any of the work, they just coordinate the different companies. So really the foundation would identify the different parts of the production chain and make partnership deals/approved supplier and build relationships with these companies. But I don’t know about the internals and capacity of the foundation.

Regarding the 501c3 - I am not from the USA so I had to check with google, but superficially it seems pretty much the same as the UK…

One often overlooked method to build a sustainable nonprofit is by generating income through the sale of goods or services. Unfortunately, many nonprofits rule out this source of capital because they mistakenly believe that nonprofits must rely solely on grants and donations.

The partnering with for profit organisations (like olimex, newbury electronics, digikey, asic manufacturer, etc) is the path of least resistance.

Nonprofits are not prohibited from engaging in income-generating activities. They can either generate income themselves, as described below, or by setting up a hybrid relationship with a for-profit entity.

taken from Can Nonprofits Sell Products or Services Legally? | SPZ Legal

no need to apologise, plan for the worst and hope for the best!


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To echo @sonya, I really love the ambition and ideas here; we’ve been mulling the possibility of doing something like this, but (at least in my view) I’d be hesitant to get the Foundation deeply involved in sales/marketing/customer support of ASIC hardware…however, the idea of some kind of partnership or consortium, where the Foundation maintains an open spec, is intriguing and potentially a very high ROI/net good for the community. I’m planning on submitting a ballot proposal in our Election repo along these lines this week, but wanted to say I agree with the spirit of this proposal even if we’d fall short of becoming a major player in the mining industry.



Thanks for the response.

Yes, I think you are completely right. I think it would be more of an organisational role and one that pays for, so therefore owns the research of certain aspects (very unlikely to be the actual asic silicon)

and supply chain logistics, approved chip vendors, chip/board certification, etc. there is already a pretty good model you can borrow bits from that they use in the console games industry. (xbox/ps2 era)

So do I. I think the community goodwill, the foundation enabling the small guy to be on a level playing field could be a real game changer for crypto in general. and are in a very unique position due to being a company and a separate 503. I am keen to see how they can leverage this.

I would really like to read your proposal, but I cannot seem to find it. I am probably looking in the wrong place, GitHub is not my home, would you please post a direct link to it? If you haven’t had a chance to do it yet then, I don’t mind writing up some draft ideas for you to cut n paste from or just delete if that is any use?

(I am really keen to get this idea off the ground, can you tell?)


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Just submitted it a few days ago, apologies for the difficulty of navigating GitHub! We are aware that it is less user-friendly for many folks…as an aside, we are thinking of ways to improve non-GitHub contribution/find better tools for this sort of thing.

Here it is, and thanks again for your feedback:

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