Let’s talk about ASIC mining


I think this is probably because those who know what you are saying to be correct are just reading your messages nodding their head and have not much to add.

Those who do not know, it seems counter intuitive to them, so they speak up.

In all fairness very few other things are tested in the same way that electronics and specifically IC’s are. Also a lot of people are thinking of the finished product, not the individual components, nor the testing of the partially assembled components. (I know you were talking specifically about IC’s but this is the frame of reference for those not involved in testing/certification will use then apply it to IC’s.)

As an aside, whilst I know what you were getting at with your example using gpu/cpu/asic there are inherent manufacturing defects on/in the silicon itself which leads to chip binning, I think this also adds to the laypersons confusion.

The cellphone example has caused confusion because it has gone through extensive testing but very little of that testing happened on the fully assembled customer retail unit. I think there is even a linus techtips video about his visit to a Huawei factory that does stuff on the one plus. (I don’t watch him, but I watched that vid. just found it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES-s9KQrUTY )

I don’t see how the cellphone testing fits in with IC testing, but that vid will give laypeople a good glimpse into a world they probably never knew existed.

c’mon man, that is a bit abrasive. you know you are right, there is no need to rub peoples lack of industry knowledge in their face.

MIL-STD-883 - Haha thanks for this. I can feel the PTSD crawling back. I am so glad I changed jobs.

I believe the post I cited refers to the parameters on the mainnet. Either way, if the memory requirements ended up being less than they had expected due to optimization, then perhaps should make them higher.

There are other statements from the Zcash team that highly suggest they planned to be ASIC resistant. Here are some examples:

" All coins are created equal. All coins should be equally accessible.

On October 28, 2016, the launch of Zcash will make ZEC coins available for mining. Since Zcash is an open source, decentralized cryptocurrency, we believe that mining should be available to everyone, regardless of their access to specialized hardware; anyone should be able to use a computer to “mine” by using open source software, and add more transactions to the Zcash ledger to get Zcash coins in return for their effort. By distributing the ability to perform mining, the Zcash network can be a more accessible and a truly community-supported cryptocurrency.

Incentivizing the creation of open source miners will enable a wider community to mine for Zcash coins and take ownership of the network as a public good. While we expect a full range in size of Zcash miners to exist, the more individuals who run a miner (whether GPU or CPU) the stronger the network."

Source: blog.z.cash/announcing-miner-contest/

Again, the issue here is whether the Zcash team misled GPU miners into thinking that the cryptocurrency intended to be ASIC resistant.


One big hole in your argument is that you believe this was somehow intentional. The developers had absolutely no idea that the current params were not ASIC-resistant. That was two years ago and a lot has happened since then, mainly, the knowledge that manufacturers can bring an ASIC to market in <=4 months. It’s also not possible to know right now whether any parameters or any new proposed mining algorithm is actually ASIC or FPGA resistant (or just claimed to be).

You’ve proposed rushing the use of ProgPOW, which has been completely unproven. It’s possible, even plausible, that a multi-billion dollar company like Bitmain can easily find a way to make an ASIC/FPGA for any claimed GPU-only algorithm, given the right market price and potential return on investment. ASIC or FPGA resistance may be impossible.

Back to the point: those original ideals are something I support and that’s why I invested in GPUs. If ASIC resistance is proven to be possible, we should switch to that algorithm and I would think every other GPU-mined coin would also switch to that algorithm. Unfortunately, we just don’t know.

It would be grossly irresponsible to implement changes on a hunch every N months rather than taking the time to do research, as the Zcash Foundation is doing. Everything I’ve seen on here has pointed to the fact that if GPU-only is possible, that is a change worth making when a development window is available.

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I’m sure ASIC resistance is possible if devs get creative. Maybe there are ways to force it where only GPU’s can mine, digital certificates or something. All it takes is some time and creativity, but it isn’t a priority. Miners are taken for granted as long as everything is running reasonably smoothly.

I don’t think it was intentional in the sense that Zcash wanted ASICs to take over one day. I think people felt that the chosen parameters were “good enough” for the first year or two. I suspect most people felt the memory requirements should be higher but didn’t think they should be adjusted until Equihash ASICs were confirmed.

I think we have good reason to believe that higher memory requirements would make Zcash more resistant to ASICs. If new ASICs came out, it’s likely that they would be less cost efficient because fast memory is expensive.

The BTG team does a good job of explaining why different Equihash parameters are more effective against ASICs:

" We’ll be adopting the new parameters, <144,5> for Equihash-BTG. Although these numbers are smaller than <200,9>, it means the algorithm actually requires dramatically more memory to run - so much more that we believe ASICs will be impossibly unprofitable for quite some time. The <144,5> parameters require a minimum of 700 MB to run and use about 2.5 GB to run efficiently (that’s 17 times larger!) This should be too expensive to produce with an ASIC right now, while most graphics cards that miners use already have that much memory or more.

In fact, the amount of memory required for Equihash-BTG pretty much forces the use of DRAM, which calls for a dramatically different design than a single-chip solver for regular Equihash. Even if a specialty miner is developed for the Equihash-BTG, it will not have as dramatic an advantage over a GPU as the specialty Equihash <200,9> miners. This significantly decreases the threat ASICs can pose to our network. This resolves our security problem in the short term, and gives us time to consider other alternatives for the longer term, if necessary.

The new <144,5> parameters in Equihash-BTG provide a few other advantages over (200, 9):

  • Smaller solution size (100 B vs 1344 B)
    • (saves a little space)
  • Faster validation (32 vs 512 rounds)
    • (allows full nodes to confirm a solution is valid more quickly)

While we know that this parameter change is not a permanent fix - this one change won’t stop ASICs forever - we know it will solve our problem for now. We’ve already seen the innards of the Z9 Equihash miner, and we know that it doesn’t have enough memory to be effective with Equihash-BTG, so we’re no longer concerned that the Z9 might be capable of competing with our Community of GPU miners. The design is not memory-upgradeable with conventional DRAM sticks of memory - and even if someone made an ASIC with DRAM, it will likely be severely limited by the speed of communication with the memory, not the processing power - which put it in the same “class” of hardware as a GPU.

Equihash-BTG, with the <144,5> parameters, will dramatically minimize the possible performance gap between GPU and ASICs, and it makes it unlikely we’ll see a single-chip solver any time soon without some sort of semiconductor breakthrough that might make it a profitable target for specialty hardware."

Source: forum.bitcoingold.org/t/our-new-equihash-equihash-btg/1512


According to: What happened at the Zcon0 mining workshop (and more...)

“Another hardware manufacturer also said that changing the parameters would be incompatible with their hardware. However, when asked if a firmware update could handle new parameters, they said yes. When further quizzed to clarify if this was because the hardware had sufficient memory for a parameter change, they said no, but that it might be possible to add more memory.”

And how long would adding more memory take? Almost no time at all.

Meanwhile, after they successfully add memory, how likely are they to sell this new hardware to the public if doing so would cause another parameter or algorithm change a few months later? It’s very unlikely, because they wouldn’t want their more efficient mining hardware invalidated. Innosilicon would just mine it in secret or sell it secretly to existing large farms, excluding home miners. Then you end up with a situation where some miners have a huge advantage over others, potentially threatening network security.

This doesn’t even account for the situation where you’re leaving the network insecure after a rushed parameter change. If Zcash just happens to be less profitable to mine at that time profit-driven GPU miners won’t be interested in mining zec.

I think you’re vastly underestimating hardware manufacturers. Keep in mind that Bitmain made more than Nvidia last year. They have access to anything Nvidia can put on a GPU, including more memory.

Translation of Bitmain’s full (unverified) IPO deck:


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Page 29 of the (unverified) Chinese version of Bitmain’s IPO deck contains the slide showing crypto holdings. https://www.docdroid.net/n1TsOnc/bitmain20180714-v2.pdf

Some interesting facts from the Bitmain IPO paper, it’s all over an interesting read.

Bitmain has launched a mining machine for Ethereum - the world’s second-largest market capitalization virtual currency. A new generation of product is under development at the same time. Mining machines for other virtual currencies are also under research and development.

Produced units:
S9 1,072,000
L3 249,000
D3 260,000

Revenue from Crypto Mining 2018: 3.3%

I think this is a good argument for why a PoW should be tuned for Fair Mining via commodity hardware, so that any advantage held by specialized hardware would be minimal.

Btw, the scenario applies equally to ASICs. Consider Bitcoin. Conventional wisdom says “price follows hashrate”. Yet as the price of BTC has fallen ~60%, its hashrate has kept increasing.

The market leading Antminer S9 was released two years ago in the summer of 2016. Could there be some new and highly efficient Bitcoin mining hardware which has been kept secret from the public?


They can add memory but gap between GPU and ASIC hashrate would be much much less because you cant make memory bandwidth much better then GPUs already have …when you have such low memory requirements like now 144 memory bandwidth makes no difference …also ASIC would be much more expensive to manufacture (Z9 mini would need 50 gb off ram) so Bitmain would have much less profit margin…now i dont thing Z9 mini is more then 200$ to produce and people were paying here 2500$ with shipping and customs witch make bitmain more strong.

Even Bitcoin and LTC are mined by secret ASIC or you really thing Bitmain does not have anything better then 2 year old S9 for them .


You really believe in this …that company would invest 500 million $ in mining facility in Texas if they had tiny revenue from mining

They say they have 3-4 billion pure profit for one year…even if they sold 2 million ASIC with 1000$ average price and even it cost them 0 to produce that is 2 billion $…where is rest …and rest is from mining .

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Off course there is …same for LTC …you cant buy ASIC that is profitable for LTC because they want sell you…its strategy to drive other miners out (after taking they money for ASICs) and then all new created coins go to them only

Isn’t the current available asic hardware for SHA-256 from all these producers enough that it needs even secret hardware?

On the SHA-256 algo you have the most Asic producers concentrated:

  • Bitmain
  • Canaan
  • Pantech
  • Bitfury
  • Pangolin
  • Bitfily
  • Ebang
  • Halong
  • Asicminer
  • Innosilicon
  • Aladdin
  • GMO

From the list mostly these are currently “testing” new products: GMO, Pangolin,

actually i believe what i read and what makes sense and not that what is just in my head or fits a given agenda. Seems you didn’t read the IPO Paper, did you?

3.3% from crypto mining is for 2018, it was 7% in 2017 if i remember right. At that’s still a huge amount by the way.

The problem is that you are limited to see that Bitmain is making revenue/profit only by crypto mining and asic selling but that’s not the case, hence why you try to split the revnue only on mining & selling and that’s the reason your calculation will never fit, leave alone all the wrong numbers.

I’ve always liked the highly optimized open-hardware idea. Either that or switching to Ethash which we know can be GPU or ASIC mined (disclaimer: I don’t own an Ethash miner).

The market leading Antminer S9 was released two years ago in the summer of 2016. Could there be some new and highly efficient Bitcoin mining hardware which has been kept secret from the public?

I think this is likely (BSI Group). It’s a risk, but there is less of a performance jump going from ASIC to ASIC than from GPU to ASIC, so the risk is most likely smaller. Double sha256 miners are pretty optimized at this point. Maybe a 4x increase is the most we could potentially see over the S9. Innosilicon is selling a 25 TH/s/1500w.

My speculation on the continued hashrate jump is that there are a bunch of new mining private placement firms that have raised a bunch of money. I think they are speculating about a future price and trying to get ahead of it by building out infrastructure. I’ve seen one instance where these groups have many-year agreements for 1.5-2 cents per kWh electrical. With electricity that low, mining is still very profitable.

Further, we are in a pre-institutional money situation. Most larger investors are expecting a much higher BTC price after institutional money flows in over the next few years.

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Actually they accepted BCH/BTC and the value of those coins went up when they calculated that profit. So I think it part of that were gains from holdings.

Yeah for $20,000.00 it is.

Post about Monero, please discuss on thread.

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Post about Bitmain transparency policy, please discuss on thread.