Bitmain, the largest manufacturers of mining ASICs have just announced the launch of F3 Ethereum ASIC miner. It is designed specifically to process Ethereum transactions and claim the protocol rewards.
The Antminer F3 is said to mine about 200 megahashes per second requiring about 800 Watts of power to do so, which is equivalent of 50 RX570 GPUs. It should cost about $2000. Every minner is mounted with 3 mainboards. On each mainboard there are 6 ASIC processors, each of which has 32 1GB DDR3 memory. This means that one unit of F3 miner contains 72 Gigabyte DRAM memory. This ASIC is being designed exclusively for ETHASH(Ethereum’s consensus algorithm.)
For Ethereum developers and users, the news wasn’t much of a surprise. Even Vitalik Buterin had written in his blog that no algorithm for managing mining rewards would remain immune to ASICs forever. Ethereum’s developer Piper Merriam announced during the Ethereum Improvement Proposal #958 about the idea of a hard fork in the Ethereum protocol, which might be a reaction to Bitmain’s news. The community in general are finding ways to avoid the effects of centralization stemming from ASICs and large scale mining.
It has been reported that Bitmain has made $3-4 billion in profit in 2017, more than Nvidia and AMD combined. With that much cash available to the company, it is has enabled them to break into the chip design niche.
The entire Ethereum mining bubble might burst if Ethereum switches from Proof of work to Proof of stake. This will make the Antminer F3 obsolete. With the arrival of the Antminer F3 there is a possibility that the prices for player graphic cards will decline. Bitmain has already developed ASIC miner for Litecoin and Siacoin.