In a developer meeting last Friday, the Ethereum Foundation’s security led, Martin Holst Swende announced his support for initiatives aimed at blocking ASIC mining hardware from the Ethereum platform. Swende joined the Ethereum Foundation in 2016 to ensure code changes on the blockchain do not disrupt or harm operations on the Ethereum blockchain.
Swende’s support puts him in alignment with other supporters of the move to block ASICs from Ethereum. First proposed back in April of this year, the proposal does have dissenters, with some devs arguing the move may reduce the number of miners needed to profitably maintain the Ethereum ledger.
Moving Away From ASIC
During the developer meeting, Swende remarked that the proposed software change, called ProgPoW, should be implemented in parallel with a larger upcoming upgrade, he says “if the technical underpinnings are there.”
The software change would make current ASICs unusable on the Ethereum network, and even potentially prevent the development of Ethereum-compatible hardware.
He also notes that unlike other software update proposals for ethereum that affect smart contract deployment on the platform, ProgPoW would not make changes to the EVM or state transition. This means that testing could be done on a different testbed in parallel to the normal testing, which is currently bottlenecked due to preparations for the upcoming Constantinople hard fork. Constantinople is scheduled to activate on ethereum testnet Ropsten on October 9.
Prior to the developer’s meeting, Swende proposed that software changes be implemented in a separate hard fork decoupled from Constantinople.
Devs state that a cost optimization upgrade aimed at reducing privacy costs could be implemented in another hard fork along with the ProgPoW proposal.
Many Concerns Remain
Several devs, however, still have concerns about the proposal. Core developers Pawel Bylica and Alexey Akhunov say the ProgPow proposal needs further work to explain how it can achieve its claims. Responding to the statement, developers of ProgPoW cited “misinformation about hardware and how ProgPow actually works.”
ProgPoW Co-Developer “Def” also emphasized that a deep dive could be done to help clear up the confusion. He highlighted that:
“The algorithm’s goal is not exactly to be ASIC-resistant.”
The reason? Def points out that in a way, all GPUs, if utilized for the purpose of mining cryptocurrencies, could be considered as ASICs.
Def then states that the design of ProgPoW is not to be ASIC-resistant but more of “friendly or tied to a single type of ASIC, which is the GPU, with these having the advantage of lower costs for miners.”
Def’s colleague, Kristy-Leigh Minehan, called for continued developer support for the idea, claiming that it wasn’t worth wasting time or money for “a project that would most likely be ignored.”
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