Bitmain’s rumored ASIC-like miner for Ethereum exists, as the crypto-mining hardware powerhouse has officially offered up the first batch of its already infamous Antminer E3 miners. Calls for a hard fork to change Ethereum’s current Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm to mitigate a Bitmain miner have grown in recent weeks, while others are saying such a move is no longer necessary.
The rumors are no longer rumors, as the Antminer E3 is clearly very real and will begin shipping between the 16th and 31st of July 2018, per Bitmain’s shop page. Each unit is tentatively being priced at $800 USD.
The reveal settles the rampant intra-community speculation that’s wracked the Ethereum ecosystem in recent weeks over whether such a miner really existed. Chatter first grew after Ethereum’s block difficulty growth surged from January through March of this year, indicating an explosion of new mining activity.
Now, the Ethereum community will have to put up or shut up as it pertains to the recently debated potential PoW change. A move toward ASIC resistance would have numerous powerful implications, but for now there is no official traction on the proposition, and there’s considerable debate as to whether true ASIC resistance is possible, whether the E3 is even an ASIC, and if a fork would ultimately be productive.
Of course, depending on Ethereum’s still materializing timeline for switching to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), Bitmain could potentially spin up a new algo for the new PoW algorithm in weeks. Whatever happens, the ball’s in the Ethereum community’s court, and for now a pass seems for likely than a shot.
Specs and Considerations
Bitmain has instituted a limit of one Antminer E3 per customer for the first batch and has forbidden shipments to residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.
As for specifications, the E3’s stats are as follows:
- Weight: 13 kilograms
- Hashing algo: Ethash
- Hashrate: 180MH/s
- Power Consumption: 800W
As for the technical specs, Bitmain notes on the product page:
“These are the conservative estimates. We expect the miners to deliver higher performance and efficiency when they are ready to ship.”
As such, though, the E3 is set to be a cheaper and more efficient option than a mining rig of around half a dozen 1070 GPUs. The difference is that GPUs have strong re-sell value (i.e. gaming markets), whereas the E3 would likely have little after Ethereum eventually switches to PoS.
We’ll have to wait and see how the space reacts from here, then.
What’s your take? Do you think a PoW shift would be good or bad for Ethereum? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via Bitmain, Etherscan