Let’s talk about ASIC mining

down with ASICs… keep ZEC ASIC hostile!

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For reference, a good blog post on FPGAs vs ASICs – from an FPGA developer’s perspective. http://zipcpu.com/blog/2017/10/13/fpga-v-asic.html

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Cryptomined just put up an excellent video about Bitmain’s XMR/ASIC scam:

It looks like Monero are ahead of ASIC abuse. Too bad ZCash appears to be behind the curve. #disappointed

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I read a few posts complaining that the ZCash team isn’t going to keep zec ASIC resistant, or you better or I will abandon your coin; I have a question for you. Please show me a link where they are pre-selling or selling Equihash ASIC miners. At the time of this posting there are not any, all it is right now is speculation and concern.

A lot of you want the ZCash team to fix something that isn’t broken (yet?). Talk about it, attempt to keep the conversation to known facts and try not to be chicken little.

Do try to have a the sky is not falling day!

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It appears from the facts posted in this thread that there is a potential divergence from what was originally promised about maintaining ASIC resistance. Scroll up the first post, read it and you will see.

https://z.cash/support/faq.html

I recall there was a solid commitment to resist ASIC on the FAQ page linked above. That is not what stated now, nor can you read a solid commitment to ASIC resistance in Zooko’s remarks outlined above.

And no one is saying the sky is falling…what’s important is that ZCash people make a definitive statement about this now instead of leaving everyone to guess.

As I see it, when you make a promise and are called to renew it, you do it in a forthright and prompt manner…one who makes a promise never leaves people guessing if it will be honored unless something happens to lead people to believe otherwise.

That’s what this thread is about, and no one is making a claim they are not going to maintain ASIC resistance. It simply appears there is some equivocation about the issue which needs some clarity from the top level of the ZCash organization.

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When I read about Zcash, that was one of the points that intrigued me, the ASIC resistance. It would be a shame and a total let down from the founders/devs to abandon that idea if a ASIC pops up. This is coming from a long time supporter of the coin.

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I read what Zooko said, let’s be honest though, it would not be the first time he said (typed) something then retracted it or realized it isn’t the based place to stand. (see below for a follow up)

From the Zcash website, there is this line “We’re still evaluating whether we think it will resist custom hardware (“ASIC”) implementation long-term.” If Zcash is having to Fork every 30 days to become ASIC resistant, then I am sorry to say they Zcash will become a ASIC mined cryptocurrency. Referring back to Zooko’s post, If ZCash has to continue to fork the cryptocoin in order to to keep it ASIC resistant then security and advancement would suffer.
In the overall long term picture his statement would be true. In the short term, ZCash not keeping the cryptocurrency ASIC resistance (forking possibly once a year) part of the architecture would be a disappointment.

One additional thing, have you seen that if the pascal machine is released it can ASIC mine almost all cryptocurrency?

Zcash commissioned an Equihash analysis by Solar Designer, which can be found at http://www.openwall.com/articles/Zcash-Equihash-Analysis

Quoting:

In September, I recommended to Zcash that they revert to the n=144, k=5 parameters (expecting that solver optimizations would eventually allow for that). Independently, the Equihash designers also made a similar recommendation, suggesting use of a lower k (such as 4 or 5). Possible reasons to prefer n=144, k=5 over n=200, k=9 include:

Higher memory requirements for the solver: close to Zcash’s original goal, whereas 144 MiB is unnecessarily too low
Smaller solutions (100 vs. 1344 bytes) and cheaper verification (32 vs. 512 hash computations)
Not susceptible to amortization via Gaussian elimination even without algorithm binding (per a formula given in the Equihash paper)

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There is absolutely nothing positive about ASIC’s in Crypto Currency. All one has to do is look what has happened to each coin as ASICs were introduced to see why. Yeah greater hash-power to support the network is nice, but that hash power is ever being controlled by a smaller and smaller pool of individuals and corporations until finally a hand full can literally dictate the direction a project pursues. All ASICs are good for is making a few large companies rich, and centralizing a coin into the hands of a select few with deep enough pockets.

There is no place for ASICs in a public block chain, they represent everything that we are supposed to be trying to change. I’ve watched it happen with Bitcoin, SIA, and Dash. Monero even realizes the threat and are forking to prevent it. Nothing good for the community will come from an ASIC.

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What if each individual asic was running a full node with its own copy of the blockchain? Would that make it more attractive?

There are at least a couple of topics here. One is to determine whether the Zcash community as a whole (not just the company) wishes to maintain ASIC resistance as a high priority. There some argument to be made that ASICs are okay or have positive incentive alignment. My guess is that this community would quickly come to a consensus on opposing ASICs. The foundation could facilitate this kind of communication, for example we could include it as a resolution to discuss and publicly vote on in our upcoming election.

The other topic is to determine whether there’s actually a credible threat of ASICs given the current pow, and what to do about it if so. I’m not impressed yet with the evidence about Pascal ASIC but haven’t followed it closely.

In general discussion of PoW changes seems like a great thing to discuss and develop outside the company since it’s not SNARK-specific. I personally think it would be great to see a pow change hardfork proposed from outside the company, although I also don’t think there’s an urgent need yet.

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The main issue with ASIC mining is that there is basically one company that provides the item, and they price them outside of what the average person can pay for it. By keeping it ASIC resistant you have the ability for people all over the world to be able to mine it and be apart of the blockchain, not just those that can afford to purchase it through bitmain.

The threat at this point is theoretical; though since they have developed a ASIC for monero and other coins on that algorithm, you could say the the minute hand is now 3 minutes until midnight.

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@amiller re: a PoW change.

I recall that @tromp was working on a PoW called Cooko Cycle, though I’m not sure if it would be considered ASIC resistant.

It could be an interesting alternative to Equihash but I would think that just changing a few parameters with Equihash to require more RAM would be easier to implement than a complete shift to a new PoW from an engineering perspective.

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https://www.coindesk.com/crypto-kill-switch-monero-going-war-big-miners/

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I agree. How hard would it be to raise the memory requirement to around 4 GB? That would make it very expensive to produce an ASIC version and most video cards would still be able to mine ZEC.

How hard would it be to raise the memory requirement to around 4 GB?

Harder than raising it to about 2.5GB with the author recommended (144,5) parameters, that were already part of the Miner Contest.

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“During our travels through Asia last week, we confirmed that Bitmain has already developed an ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] for mining Ethereum, and is readying the supply chain for shipments in 2Q18,” analyst Christopher Rolland wrote in a note to clients Monday. "While Bitmain is likely to be the largest ASIC vendor (currently 70-80% of Bitcoin mining ASICs) and the first to market with this product, we have learned of at least three other companies working on Ethereum ASICs, all at various stages of development."

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No it would not. It doesn’t much matter if every ASIC ran a full node if said nodes were all controlled by the same hand full of people. ASIC’s centralize the network, put mining out of reach of the common person, and place the control in the hands of a few with deep pockets. It is everything you do not want in a block chain. The only winner in a ASIC world will ultimately be Bitmain, and companies like Bitmain. The point of CPU and GPU mining was that “anyone” could participate in the process. ASIC’s are literally a hash rate arms race. The smaller guys, the hobbyists, and the enthusiast get pushed out when ASIC’s show up.

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