Let’s talk about ASIC mining


Yes, I know both of them (ASIC and ASIC resistance) have some negative and positive points you can find that in ASIC benefits in section 4. what is wrong?


This is something I’ve been wondering about during most of this discussion. Personally, anyway, it’s not at all clear to me what the process flow looks like for a decision like this. When an issue is raised (here, whether or not affirmative action should be taken to maintain/promote ASIC resistance on the Zcash network), how is relevant information collected & consolidated for review, by whom is this done, and by what means is a consensus determined (who are the ultimate arbiters/ decision-makers that dictate Zcash network development). @zooko Can you shed some light on this?

@garethtdavies Everyone, absolutely everyone, is entitled to their own opinion on this matter, to include Zooko, of course, and I would submit that it isn’t his opinion per se that is at the heart of the issue here. Rather, it is its apparent conflict and inconsistence with previous statements and guidance. As I can’t point to specific statements (off-hand) made by Zooko himself, I am making the assumption that he was at least consulted on these statements (such as: https://z.cash/support/faq.html#mining-algorithm) prior to their being published. Regardless of whether this is true or not, that is clearly the perception in this case, and to the best of my knowledge, I have not seen this refuted. As @ZC93 pointed out, this is creating a serious credibility issue for @zooko within the community*. I also feel that the lack of process transparency (touched on in para 1) is also contributing to community anxiety. There is at least one other thread aside from this one that is being used to weigh this issue, but as far as I know, there is no formal planning process being followed that will ultimately allow for equitable issue resolution (i.e., there is no group within Zcash charged with extraction and compilation of useful data necessary for thoughtful deliberation & facilitation of good decision-making). While it is true that we all assume risk in buying into projects like this, I think that folks like @johnwisdom et al deserve a certain degree of respect (clear communication about the way ahead and its implications to the ecosystem at large).

*=as represented by members of this forum, at least.

As for my opinions on ASICs, I would generally say that I am against them primarily on the bases of prohibitive unit cost, lack of competition in the space / monopolistic grounds, and philosophical grounds.

The ability to participate in the Zcash project with something as ubiquitous as a GPU is, in my mind, very much in agreement with the ethos of this coin. Pretty much no matter who you are, you likely own a computer with a card that allows you (at least in some small way) to be a part of this. You certainly can spend more money to expand your footprint/degree of involvement, but it’s exceedingly likely that you don’t have to. Now, certainly, one’s ability to meaningfully participate with a given piece of hardware is reduced overtime, but this would be no different with ASICs around. @lordfeo To a point you made earlier in which you talked about useless functions purchased with GPUs (and this being something that is avoided with ASICs), I would say that it is precisely because of this extra functionality that this group to which I refer is even able to partake!

While it has been argued that GPU-dependent networks and ASIC-dependent networks are both susceptible to unhealthy hashing power aggregation, I feel this is less of an issue with GPUs vs ASICs if, for no other reason, than the known business practices of manufacturers involved in the spaces. It seems like it is reasonably settled and agreed that Bitmain does not simply release finished ASICs to the public upon completion of testing, but instead, they utilize their own devices for personal enrichment for lengthy periods before this technology is shared with the “public”. To the best of my knowledge, there is no equivalent practice in the GPU market.

As pointed out by @root, among others, I think it is inarguable that the energy footprint of PoW coins can be avoided, but I don’t believe that ASICs are a necessary intermediate evolutionary step. My understanding of the proposed Ethereum miner is that it afforded a roughly 33% reduction in energy consumption for the equivalent GPU hashing power, which is competitive with but not necessarily in excess of that which can be obtained through natural evolution of GPU circuit efficiency (e.g., Titan V as compared to Titan Xp/1080 Ti || yes, I know Titan V is a $3000 GPU, but it’s not unreasonable to believe that such efficiency benefits will be integrated into the next line of consumer GPUs). To the best of my knowledge, the cost required for version upgrades between ASICs is several times higher than that required for GPUs.


I am definitely 100% against Asics. But let’s also admit that like many others here, I have invested a lot on GPU equipment. That is a reason to be against Asics that is not often discussed. Nvidia also is making a lot of money in this game. I won’t be shocked if the new generation is 50% better at mining from the 10xx series, to encourage people stick with gpu when they upgrade. So people/companies will defend the gpu only status. But I wonder if we are like a business that just bought all its employees a typewriter, just as the PC was being sold by IBM, then Apple.


Actually Bitmain own Antpool, BTC.com, and are direct investors of ViaBTC, and are also thought to have heavy influence on BTC.top which would give them significantly more than 51% of the hashrate already. Just under 50% if you don’t include BTC.top


Yes, they own websites and pools but they don’t own all of hash power provided in these pools.


Let’s not miss the forest for the trees.

The sale, distribution and operation of ASIC miners can be controlled and regulated, thereby exposing a public ledger to increased risk of censorship and manipulation.

Consider the city of Plattsburgh (New York) which has just banned Bitcoin mining under environmental health and zoning laws: https://www.cityofplattsburgh-ny.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=229. The purchase and importing of equipment from overseas must first pass customs where it can be seized, taxed, https://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/internet-purchases and inspected to ensure it meets technical guidelines (which can be arbitrary) before being allowed in. https://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/importation

With the distribution of ASIC miners under control, a path opens up for mining to be regulated, where licensed operators must abide by rules drawn up by some authority. Such rules are likely to include compliance with internationally co-ordinated financial blacklists, where transactions are blocked from being mined. https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Sanctions/Pages/faq_compliance.aspx#vc_faqs

Even cloud mining services, located thousands of miles away from their customers, can be subject to legal challenge. For example, Genesis Mining has received a cease and desist from South Carolina. https://www.coindesk.com/crypto-miner-genesis-hit-cease-desist-order/

Finally, a crucial flaw with ASIC miners is that their competitive advantage is founded on proprietary silicon. How do we know what is really going on inside the mining chip? Maybe there’s a backdoor or even a kill switch? Plenty of people can read source code but how many can use an electron microscope?
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/05/backdoor_found.html, https://www.wired.com/2016/06/demonically-clever-backdoor-hides-inside-computer-chip/

Personally, I believe that ASIC mining is a step on the slippery slope towards centralized and regulated mining. Anyone who cares about decentralization and fair access to a public ledger should heed the warning signs.

src: https://reason.com/blog/2017/12/13/venezuela-bitcoin-cryptocurrency

BITMAIN Real Name Authentication

OK, so a very emotional topic for everyone.

I would like to point out the obvious:

  1. Monero difficulty and hash has dropped significantly since the hard fork. You can claim if you want that miners are staying with the old fork since they think ASIC’s are good thing… and technically this is correct, the ASIC miners are staying because they have no choice. This should completely dispel any lingering belief that covert ASIC’s mining for major Cryptos has not been around for some time, including Equihash.

  2. Having been on the development team for many ASIC’s for my work, I can say with 100% certainty there is no such thing as “ASIC proof”. Ive taken flak for saying this in the past but I am think that is not going to happen now.

  3. ASIC Resistant is something completely different (from ASIC proof) and requires dedicating resources to play the cat and mouse game with ASIC developers. I get this, Zooko does not want to deal with this issue, it’s a huge distraction from making Zcash more usable and increasing its adoption. He is thinking like a CEO, as he should, but I think in this case, maybe he is missing the bigger picture.

  4. Sia argued that ASIC’s are good, and by making the ASIC mining hardware available to everyone they are also decentralized. Well, Bitmain beat them to it and they are likely already mining Sia with their own ASIC’s. So now Sia can’t fork, as it would impact their own ASIC as well… so that didn’t work out very well now did it!!

  5. ASIC’s are expensive, and they require significant investment. However, spin times are getting much faster, reverse engineering ASIC’s is already possible, industrial espionage is alive and well (therefore ASIC design theft), these things are driven by Crypto market caps and will only grow as Crypto grows. This will centralize control into the hands of just a few very large players who have the capitol and resources. So we are back to our current financial system, just with very different players. Just think about how financial and trade wars will be fought as Crypto begins to dominate. ASIC’s offer a very elegant and covert attack vector.

I am not a crypto idealogical zealot, but I can appreciate the idea of a distributed trust less system that benefits all who participate. Unfortunately, without playing the cat and mouse game on ASIC’s this idea is simply not possible. ASIC’s will always lead to centralized control, and more specifically to covert centralized control.

Monero is currently the most profitable coin to mine on all of my rigs. Even the 1080ti’s have Monero in the lead, that has NEVER happened before. The GPU miners flocking to Monero is truly impressive, nearly 5X the hash rate since the April 6th fork on Nanopool alone, and still the difficulty is sill low.

I have never mined Monero and I am several states away from my farm (I am on the road 95% of time, often international). However this is not a problem: Specifically directed at “lordfeo”, In a couple hours I learned how to mine Monero and wrote the code to get auto reboot and texting up and running on my AMD and Nvidia test rigs (all from my hotel room). So I can push the software to the rest of the rigs and go 100% Monero at any time. Hardest part was finding a way to Sync the Monero block chain without using this crappy hotel WiFi (so I setup a VM on my farm server and had it Sync using its high speed connection). If you cant do something as simple as that, you should not be thinking about mining as a profession, and you certainly should not be trying to diminish the skills of those of us who can.

Monero has demonstrated they are not going to allow ASIC’s mining dominance on their network, and have consequently proved that it is, and will continue to be a problem for all Crypto. Bottom line: If Zcash will not take a hard stand against ASIC’s (that is of course besides, Daria), then I am out.

Its time for Zooko to make his argument for ASIC’s… like now.


I guess you really don’t understand how this works.

If you join a pool they operate the full node, you are just a mindless worker bee and mine what you are told. So, yes they control ALL the hash in the pool if they control the pool.


You cannot trust anyone… period! Also, defenitely don’t trust all minions on twitter spreading hate towards Bitmain, while … literary all GPU manufacturers told miners to F-OOF … so what is to trust !?


suck KID mentality not helpful for anyone …


Yes, if you can by ASICS off wallmart shelve!


it’s not abstract, ASICS are more environment friendly, regardless what other people a re spreading (it is a math fact):slight_smile: example: If I am to invest in GPUs, you invest in something with much less hash/watt ! Meaning more C02 :smiley:


E-wast is not a problem … wasting energy with GPUs is real though!


Monero I trust in supporting huge bots, thats not decentralization, that’s a MESS!


You are over-sensational, chill, there is simply too much misconceptions around!


But WHY? Why would they do it! It is a suicide : 1st they loose on actually making profit or RoI on those asics, then after 51% attack the price of any crypto will hit the bottom faster than planes fall :slight_smile:


If I were them, I rather focus on the milliard of other issues with ether!


It’s called capitalism and if you dont like it move along, simply crypto is not for you !


oh wow… (20 characters)


The pools choose how/what they mine, not it’s users. If it was a P2Pool, then it would be different.