The Chinese cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain has recently unveiled the Antminer E3 for Ethereum mining. It is reported that an Antminer E3 to be shipped in late July is priced at $ 800 with ordering limit of one miner per user and not available in China.
As the announcement of Bitmain’s tweet read, E3 is the world’s most powerful and efficient EtHash ASIC miner. It was claimed that the hashrate of an E3 is 180 MH/s (megahashes per second), 6 times the hashrate of the price-comparable Geforce 1080 produced by NVidia.
The advent of Antminer E3 signals Jihan Wu’s ambition on Ethereum. The Ethereum community and miners have the reason to worry, while it has far more influences on the entire crypto industry.
1. ASIC Vs GPU? Bad news for AMD and NVidia
It was reported that both AMD and NVidia had their price objective lowered by stock analysts at Susquehanna coming on the heels of the news that Bitmain was about to launch ASIC Ethereum miner. The reason for the move was Bitmain joined as a competitive player in the Ethereum mining game. Prior to that, there was no specially-designed ASIC chip for Ethereum mining. CPU/GPU was the only choice for miners, and the Ethereum mining boom made GPUs of AMD and NVidia easily snapped up. According to Susquehanna, Ethereum-mining-related sales accounted for 20 per cent of AMD’s sales and 10 per cent of NVidia’s revenues.
It is foreseeable that the upcoming E3 would definitely grab great orders from the GPU market and good days for AMD and NVidia might come to an end.
2. Mining monopoly? Impact on Ethereum community
Several times of conventional GPU hashrate, Antminer E3’s hashrate performance may break the current hashrate balance in the Ethereum community, and erode the miners’ interests. It brings about what the community is concerned about – mining monopoly. In this context, the computing power of Ethereum is tending centralized. It’s possible for the company as a single actor to control a plurality of mining power in the network. These days, Bitmain reportedly controls 35 percent of the hashing capacity of the Bitcoin network. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect such a scenario to play out in Ethereum as well.
3. A hard fork? Dilemma for core developers
In response to the launch of E3, many Ethereum developers came out in favor of a fork that would effectively disable the hardware. Core developer Piper Merriam went so far as to detail a technical proposal for how this would be achieved so as to keep GPU cards as the primary mining mechanism. While Vitalik personally lean quite significantly towards no action as he considers getting everybody to upgrade is likely to be fairly chaotic and detract from more important things, unless the community truly wants this (fork) to happen.
4. What if a hard fork happens? Impact on Bitmain
So if a Ethereum fork happens, will it be a disaster for Antminer E3? It shall be noted that E3 cannot only mine ETH, but also ETC and other cryptocurrencies powered by the same algorithm. Actually, the miners group plays a role in stabilizing the price of ETH. In this respect, Vitalik should be aware of the miners’ value. And Bitmain will not be the only supplier of Ethereum ASIC miner, more will be coming following its step.