Here’s why Zcash chose to use Equihash mining, back in 2016:
"Equihash is a memory-oriented Proof-of-Work, which means how much mining you can do is mostly determined by how much RAM you have. We think it is unlikely that anyone will be able to build cost-effective custom hardware (ASICs) for mining in the foreseeable future… we may change the Proof-of-Work again, if we find some flaw in Equihash or if we find another Proof-of-Work algorithm which offers higher assurance."
Fast forward to February 2018…
The PascalProject claim that their upcoming Pascal A1 Asic can achieve 10000 Sol/s when mining Zcash. The veracity of this claim and the legitimacy of the project itself are unknown, see further discussion at BitcoinTalk.
A recent presentation from Emin Gun Sirer suggests:
“90% of the mining power is owned by 16 miners in Bitcoin and 11 miners in Ethereum.” -
Yesterday, CNBC reported:
"Based on conservative estimates of gross margin of 75 percent and operating margin of 65 percent, Bernstein analysts calculate that Beijing-based Bitmain made $3 billion to $4 billion in operating profits in 2017."
Today, Bitcoin Core developer Luke-jr tweets:
“A change of PoW is needed because SHA2 is no longer a decentralised PoW, but has become merely assigned-by-Bitmain.” -
Bitmain founder Jihan Wu believes that changing to an ASIC resistant PoW will result in Bitcoin losing its relevance:
“That is cool. When you achieved it, Bitcoin’s market share in the cryptocurrency will fall under 10%. Good luck!” - https://twitter.com/JihanWu/status/967241694109302785
Meanwhile, Monero have promised to fight ASICs:
“We strongly believe that it’s beneficial to preserve our ASIC resistance. Therefore, we will perform an emergency hard fork to curb any potential threat from ASICs if needed. Furthermore, in order to maintain its goal of decentralization and to provide a deterrent for ASIC development and to protect against unknown or undetectable ASIC development, the Monero team proposes modifying the Cryptonight PoW hash every scheduled fork, twice a year.” https://getmonero.org/2018/02/11/PoW-change-and-key-reuse.html
Zooko wrote recently on #zcash-dev:
"ZcashCo engineers have recently been chatting about mining decentralization, including such ideas as changing the Equihash params, switching to a different PoW algorithm, making non-outsourceable PoW, switching to PoS, etc… My current position is that our mission is best served by improving the security, scalability, and usability of the product for end users, and that mining-decentralization is a struggle that is impossible to win in theory, and is long since lost in practice, and it is a distraction to worry too much about it. Instead I think we should design protocols which are censorship-resistant and user-protecting (and usable and scalable) even when there is only one miner in the world."
So now over to the community.
- How do you feel about ASIC mining?
- Do you have any red lines?
- How would you like to see the Zcash project evolve with respect to mining?
- Is this a topic which the Zcash Foundation should take the lead on?
If you’ve been thinking a lot about how to defend and strengthen decentralized mining, please share your thoughts! Thank you.