Thoughts on the News of Ethereum Asic Miners:
We have heard many concerns from the mining community regarding the news that Bitmain has already or may be developing an Asic-like Ethereum miner. While this is still a rumor and not yet confirmed, we will explore its implications on mining and specifically on mining PIRL. In short, we do not see any reason for alarm, and we believe this may actually be beneficial to the mining community.
First, the rumored hash rates per machine have been reported to only be in the 200 – 220 MHs range. This is not a big improvement from most rigs built by miners, and with the newer motherboards, miners can easily build a rig with comparable or better hash rates and at a better cost. When Asics were introduced for Bitcoin, they provided an enormous increase in performance versus GPU mining rigs. The rumored Ethereum miner would offer no such performance advantage, and although no costs have been published, the potential costs of these rigs will likely be significantly higher than a comparable rig built by a miner. Second, Ethash is a memory intensive algorithm and the rumored specifications for the machine indicates DDR3 memory – which is slower than your current mining rigs. The machines will have a lot of the DDR3 memory, but it is unlikely that this will give any real advantage over most miners’ rigs.
With the current lack of GPU inventory available for miners, the addition of the machines may allow miners to add to their overall hash rate while GPU’s are difficult to find. Additionally, the pre-made machines might be attractive to entry level miners or those who do not want to build or cannot build their own rigs. If these are readily available, they should help relieve some of the pressure on the inventory of available GPU’s that miners can purchase; and thus may help lower GPU pricing back to more normalized levels. Based on the reporting, besides being pre-built and ready to mine, these machines may offer some slight improvement in power efficiency due to the use of server grade PSU’s; however more and more miners are already using a similar configuration to optimize efficiency, and the potential high costs of these machines will likely outweigh any savings from greater efficiency versus a miner built rig with similar components.
As long as there is strong demand for mining hardware, we will continue to see the production of equipment that will improve mining hash rates, efficiency, and ease of use – it is the natural progression of technological advancement. However, if these or similar machines are mass produced and sold, the overall impact on mining should not be affected negatively. We need to consider that the addition of these mining machines may allow miners to expand their existing farms, and it could bring new miners and investors into cryptocurrencies – which are good things and needed for ongoing growth and acceptance of crypto. Additionally, coins (like PIRL) will have the ability to alter their algorithm which could make the hard coded chips useless on those coins. This may not be the most ideal solution, but is something that developers can consider if this becomes a problem in the future.
In conclusion, we welcome the addition of these new machines as we do not believe they will harm the current miners for the reasons outlined above. We believe that the introduction of these machines will allow miners to increase their hashing power, it will add new miners, and will relieve some of the GPU inventory difficulties – which are all beneficial to the PIRL mining community.
We will continue to monitor these developments and how they may affect the PIRL community.