Let’s talk about ASIC mining


@nec guys, show please new unit, with warranty, aimed at enthusiasts, for less than 5k.

Some 1080 Tis are going for $800 to $1200 right now. Not much ROI there either with the current prices.

If an ASIC is selling for 5k then someone is buying it - otherwise they would lower prices. Mining is a gamble and there are people willing to take that gamble even in the current market. It’s a risk/reward proposition. Profit is never guaranteed in mining and if it becomes so, something is wrong.

@bentusi: Which facts are these? I can tell you are not a technical person at all and have no degrees in computer science, computer engineering or electrical engineering. You just state things with dogmatic consistency which works on non-technical people, but is complete BS, it is unfortunate.

Some, but not all, of facts are outlined here: https://medium.com/obelisk-blog/the-state-of-cryptocurrency-mining-2d8521bd754a (from May 2018). I would consider David Vorick an expert on the matter, given his situation with Obelisk. The things I’ve stated aren’t my facts, they are object facts from experts. Attacking me personally or trying to get information about what advanced degrees I may have is a sign that your argument is weak.

I stand with the fact that no GPU-mined coin can guarantee ASIC resistance. Even the recently launched Grin, which ideally wanted to be ASIC resistant, has given up on it.

@bentusi: You guys have killed Zcash

Zcash is alive and well. Every day it exists it is getting stronger.


Another thing you just made up…Grin does not want to be ASIC resistant.


Cuckoo was designed to be asic resistant in beginning. Tromp realized at some stage that, while still in development, the algo can’t hold asics away and changed it from asic resistant to asic friendly.

Feel free to message Tromp as i did some months ago on this matter. I don’t feel comfortable posting private email conversations here as proof or whatever so just message/email Tromp if you have doubts that cuckoo was intented to be asic resistant…


@dzonikg Another thing you just made up…Grin does not want to be ASIC resistant.

It’s stated on their forum:

What is Cuckoo Cycle?

Cuckoo Cycle is a Proof-of-Work algorithm that searches very large graphs for cycles, i.e. a cyclic path (a path that loops back on itself). For most people’s purposes, it’s an algorithm that we hope turns out to be ASIC resistant.

And also all over their Github page.


The forum post is from Jan 2018, when hundreds of MB of SRAM on a chip were thought to be economically infeasible. Appearance of Equihash miners changed my mind.

The github page mentions both an ASIC Targeted variant of Cuckoo Cycle called Cuckatoo Cycle, and an ASIC Resistant variant called Cukaroo Cycle that derives its resistance at least as much from our planned frequent (every 6 months) Monero-style tweaks, as from the heavy penalty against lean mining, which reduces the possible performance gap with ASICs.


Thanks for clarifying @tromp. Miner manufacturers seem to be able to design and produce prototypes in just months. I had a few questions about Grin’s approach, if you don’t mind expounding a bit:

  1. Do you think that publicly stating a regular cycle of PoW changes is frequent enough to not be gamed for part of that timeframe?
  2. Are the PoW changes broad enough to not be accounted for by a more generalized ASIC?
  3. Does the centralized nature of deciding the next PoW create a situation where some of those few people could make a lot of grin through private manufacturer collaboration? I’m mainly referring to Siacoin’s hard fork to brick all ASICs except for the one they produce.

Hopefully we will learn a lot from what happens in the Grin space.


Sorry if you’ve answered this a bunch of times @tromp, but if the issue is memory per chip, what do you think of the approach (not taking credit for it) of regularly, e.g. twice a year changing equihash params to increase memory needed as a way to avoid ASICs?


Equihash miners for Zcash not require lot off Ram…Zcash ASIC has only 144mb per Chip and is NOT memory intensive.
Ethash ASIC are not better then GPU per watt (there are just less expensive)
So you change your mind based on false facts.

Fun fact that now 5 year old AMD 280x card earns more on Equihash(150,5) then ASIC Z9 mini on Zcash Equihash ASIC that costed 2000$+ just 6 months ago even Equihash was build for Zcash but was not used as it should.


To resist ASICs you would need to change more than just params, since those can be anticipated.
But I think that approach (i.e. the Monero approach) is undesirable as it requires trust in the developers not to not leak the changes to ASIC manufacturers. That’s why Grin phases out the AR PoW in two years.

  1. I think a 6 month change frequency leaves too little time for ASICs to ROI.

  2. The changes must be chosen so as to reduce that risk. but in a cat and mouse game like this there are few certainties.

  3. Yes, there is a risk of collusion, so trust in devs is required.
    Siacoin didn’t planned to have regular PoW changes, but apparently did
    foresee a possible situation where they could punish rival ASICs.


What i mean if you want to battle ASIC and FPGA you need intensive memory algo …That is why even after so many year ETH algo egist still no FPGA that can do any better then GPU …also ASIC 2…i just dont get why is so hard to implement memory hard algorithm…and GRIN is also not .
Monero battles by forks but they want to be always CPU mineable coin so their memory requirement is very low 2 fit in CPU cache and it makes it great for FPGA


Please share these facts… screen shots and or website that provides this information.


I’m guessing he is referring to mining Beam which was launched earlier this month. It’s just a matter of time before Beam and Grin become unprofitable for GPU miners as these algorithms are incorporated into auto-switching platforms.


Many of my thoughts why POW is flawed nowadays and has no future at all…

Interesting parts:

Bitcoin beyond 2020: Can proof-of-work sustain life after block rewards?

A Bank of International Settlements report concludes that bitcoin’s liquidity is “set to fall dramatically” due to decreasing mining rewards and low retail use if it doesn’t migrate to another consensus model such as proof-of-stake.

In order to prevent “liquidity from ebbing away”, the paper suggests Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would need to depart from using proof-of-work – unsustainable without block rewards and towards proof-of-stake, or delegated proof-of-stake.



The question is is there anything better? PoS has not proven itself yet, and might end up being impossible imo; at least in an open network.


Yes, agree, there are still many unknowns.

But someone could as well ask: How much is needed to be better than the worst?

Philosophy question would be: To bet on something unproven or to continue with something prooven flawed by today?


sometimes (very often) you make me laugh…

you still are not admitting that there is big difference between asic pow and gpu pow.

you still trying to convince everyone that gpu pow is flawed in absolutely same way as asic pow.

and many have fallen into this simplified manipulation of facts.

including zooko, who chose to protect following zcash updates instead of protecting huge loyal gpu miner community, at least by any warning, when asics were announced to mine equihash, which was choosen as the most asic resistant algorythm…


Actually i admit that gpu POW is preferable over asic POW and i have several times the last weeks stated that it would be preferable to have gpu POW if this was still an option even suggesting that a hybrid gpu POW/POS would we way better than gpu POW/asic POW or asic POW/POS… This alone shows that i today would prefer as well gpu POW over asic POW…

Netherless as they are both POW i see only minor advantage of one towards the other and see both as outdated, flawed, doomed to fail. But to make you happy, if i had to vote today for only one of the both i would give my vote to gpu POW as asic pow indeed turned out to be the worst of the worst of all possibilites.

You now can stop accusing me that i don’t admit that is was a mistake to go with asics…


A very long must read in my opinion why we have different opinions in crypto


Posting the full chapter IV here from A Conflict of Crypto Visions, Why do we fight? A framework suggests deeper reasons, here is contains an interesting POW/POS section:

Episode IV: Proof-of-work vs. Proof-of-stake

Bitcoin’s proof-of-work is an embodiment of the constrained vision, a mechanism to work around fundamental limitations rather than re-engineer them. First explained by Nick Szabo in Money, blockchains, and social scalability , Bitcoin’s proof-of-work accommodates our cognitive limitations and behavior tendencies by making a necessary and intentional tradeoff: greatly sacrificing computational scalability to improve social scalability.

A feature to the constrained, a bug to the unconstrained.

The ability to participate in an “institutional technology” is predicated on the technology motivating participation and protecting the system and its participants from malicious activity. By improving social scalability, which proof-of-work does so effectively, the number of people who can beneficially participate in the system is maximized. Therefore, the constrained, “proof-of-work” vision posits that Bitcoin’s success should not be determined by its computational efficiency but by its ability to increase social scalability through trust minimization.

What the unconstrained vision deems computationally inefficient and unscalable, the constrained vision not only deems an intended tradeoff, but a fundamental feature : specialized, dedicated hardware should perform a function whose sole output is to prove that the computer did indeed execute a costly computation. As Nick Szabo highlights, “prolific resource consumption and poor computational scalability unlocks the security necessary for independent, seamlessly global, and automated integrity.”

While an implementation of both computational and social scalability is optimal, the constrained vision acknowledges that it cannot be done without compromising security. Embedded in computer science is a fundamental understanding of tradeoffs in security and performance where inevitably, automating integrity requires high resource utilization. Even with breakthroughs in computer science, the constrained vision recognizes that total integrity and absolute trustlessness is infeasible, making the delicacy of explicit and intentional tradeoffs all the more imperative. As such, the constrained vision fully accepts that such tradeoffs are unavoidable, and “it is probable no such big but integrity-preserving performance improvement is possible.” [4]

To the unconstrained vision, the assumptions around proof-of-work are entirely different. Instead of asserting that proof-of-work sacrifices computational inefficiency for social scalability, the unconstrained vision asserts that proof-of-work unjustifiably consumes significantly more resources than it creates, making it a wasteful and archaic system in dire need of improvement.

A commonly used statistic the unconstrained vision employs to illustrate proof-of-work’s “wastefulness” is a measurement of the amount of energy the system expends as a proportion of the total transaction volume the system processes. By employing such a statistic, it becomes obvious why under the unconstrained view, proof-of-work is so scandalously inefficient: “Bitcoin consumes five Hiroshima’s worth of energy per day” only to process “a mere fraction of what a payment service like Visa processes.”

The use of this argument to illustrate proof-of-work’s wastefulness implies that trust minimization is not viewed as a necessary feature in the unconstrained vision. If it were, comparing Bitcoin to Visa would be futile: Visa does not provide the same improvements in social scalability through trust minimization precisely because it is more “computationally efficient”. Such a comparison not only dismisses the existence of limitations, but attempts to associate two completely unrelated variables (i.e. energy expenditure and transaction volume are not functions of each other). As Sowell highlights, wrongful association of these variables leads to “statistical extrapolation without any analysis of the actual processes from which these numbers were generated.” [5]

A costless alternative?

Deeming proof-of-work wasteful suggests a cheaper, more prudent alternative exists. To the unconstrained vision, the reason proof-of-work has not fully succumbed to an alternative may come from a lack of care for the environment or a lack of imagination of technological advancements as Emin Gun Sirer suggests:

100 years from now, future generations will talk about the PoW craze with the same bemused view we hold for other mass manias. The absurdity of wasting energy to make chicken scratch marks on an electronic ledger is going to become more obvious. We are going to look back the same way we look at the use of CFCs and leaded gasoline. We should replace it with systems that can do better.

As previously highlighted, the unconstrained view is to remove specific negative features in the existing situation to create a solution. In the context of proof-of-work, the question posed by the unconstrained is then: “how can we remove the computational inefficiency and energy wastefulness of proof-of-work to create a better sybil-control mechanism and consensus algorithm?”

Attempting to answer this question, mechanisms like proof-of-stake have emerged as the most popular solution, as Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin highlights:

“The philosophy of proof-of-stake is not ‘security comes from burning energy’, but rather ‘security comes from putting up economic value-at-loss’.

In a proof-of-stake system, a blockchain appends and agrees on new blocks through a process in which anyone who holds coins inside of the system can participate and the influence an agent has is proportional to the number of coins (or ‘stake’) it holds. This is a vastly more efficient alternative to proof-of-work ‘mining’ and enables blockchains to operate without mining’s high hardware and electricity costs.”

Under the unconstrained view, proof-of-work is classified solely as a sybil-control mechanism. As such, there is greater justification for removing energy spend on coin production. Emin Gun Sirer explains:

The energy spent on coin production is purely wasted, it provides no price floor for coins, it is value leaked out of the system. Much like how the high cost of printing Bahts doesn’t guarantee value higher than USD. It’s just the cost of competition between miners.

Thus, the goal in the unconstrained vision is to implement an inherently costless system without leakage. In proof-of-stake, network participants are not required to use inordinate amounts of energy to maintain ledger immutability, significantly reducing labor intensity. A reduction in labor intensity would be more fair and help encourage community participation due to lower barriers to entry. Specifically, the unconstrained vision claims that taking mining out of the hands of entities with access to excessive amounts of low cost energy would help redistribute the work evenly and lead to a more democratized system. By removing the feature that secures value in a proof-of-work system, security in turn is derived from the value stored within the system itself. As David Yakira notes, “in a sense, a PoS system is recursive, augmenting the value it stores implies better security which further allows the value to increase and so on.”

Under the constrained vision, however, defining proof-of-work as merely a sybil-control mechanism is non-exhaustive and trivializes its purpose. Proof-of-work is also seen as essential for maintaining unforgeable costliness “giving digital blocks real-world weight” and enforcing a predictable, meritocratic distribution mechanism.

Because the constrained vision believes there to be “no solutions, only tradeoffs,” a costless mechanism without leakage would also be definitionally impossible, as Paul Sztorc notes:

“Switching the payout-trigger to a social or political dimension would merely transpose the work-expenditures correspondingly to the realms of bribery and propaganda.

If an object has value, people will spend effort to chase it, up to whatever the object is worth (MC=MR). This effort is also “work”. [Thus], a stable solution to these problems is definitionally impossible , as there is always an incentive to work until marginal cost equals marginal revenue.”

The Future Remains To Be Built

As we’ve highlighted, these divisions between cryptocurrency enthusiasts, investors, and builders can be seen across the “unconstrained” and “constrained” axes, two conflicting ideologies that transcend geography, professional associations, or backgrounds.

We believe that the most likely outcome after the full possible actualizations of these visions is convergence in some form. While the future remains uncertain, a conflict of visions persists because in reality, visions are all we have to focus on ahead of a multi-decade roadmap of adoption and integration.