Ethereum Core Devs Agree to ProgPoW Hard Fork. What Comes Next?

Ethereum Core Devs Agree to ProgPoW Hard Fork. What Comes Next?

On the latest Ethereum Core Dev call, an EIP to switch Proof of Work to ProgPoW was approved. The goal of forking to a different PoW algorithm is to avoid the ethash ASIC manufacture from centralizing mining efforts, but what other implications will the move have?

Update 1/15/2019: The Constantinople update has been temporarily postponed; a new date for the upgrade will be announced on Friday, Jan. 18th.

Also read: Ahead of Ethereum Constantinople Update, Community Eyes ProgPoW

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Ethereum ASICs Present Unacceptable Risks

Ethash, despite the marketing around it during the early days of Ethereum, is not ASIC resistant. Ethereum ASICs have been on the market for a while now, ranging from 2-4x more efficient than commodity hardware in their first generation.

Their danger to commodity hardware driven Ethash ecosystems was demonstrated in full during the ETC 51 percent attack last week. It’s only a matter of time until the gulf in performance becomes vast enough to push out GPU mining entirely. The proposed ProgPoW algorithm would remedy this, at least in the short term.

The new algorithm makes it more difficult to create ASICs because it tries to use every function of a GPU, effectively optimizing the hashing for GPUs rather than making it more difficult to make ASICs that do it better.

GPUs are, in effect, ASICs, so it stands to reason that this approach may be more effective. We won’t know for sure until ProgPoW has been implemented on several large altcoins for a year or two, but the methodology seems sound.


Side Effects Anticipated

This Proof of Work-changing fork will have a few side effects, though. One of them is alienating an unknown portion of their miners. The other is that Ethereum will be the first cryptocurrency to hand over their security mechanism to a mining software company.

To elaborate, ProgPoW was developed by the people over at Mineority and OhGodaCompany. These businesses make their money by selling custom mining software to large commodity hardware mining farms to increase their margins.

Unlike most other cryptocurrency projects, this means that specification maintenance for PoW and the core expertise surrounding it will be outside the core development team, and the people who wield that expertise have a huge advantage when it comes to selling custom mining software for that particular PoW. This and other criticisms have been leveled at the change, but only time will tell if they are substantive.

Have your say. Will the benefits of ProgPoW outweigh the risks?

Images via Pixabay

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