Back in January, Ethereum developers expressed their support for the ASIC resistance upgrade for the Ethereum network called ProgPow. This implementation would make the Ethereum network ASIC resistant. However, there are some concerns related to it. The community believes that the patch may cause the same problem that it is currently trying to solve. Because of this situation, the future of ProgPow is in question.
ProgPoW means Programmatic Proof of Work and it will be altering the structure related to the math problems that miners try to solve to confirm transactions. This would allow GPU miners to have larger possibilities to compete against ASIC miners.
ASIC miners are highly specialized devices that allow miners to process transactions in the Ethereum network. Those miners that are able to find a block receive a reward in ETH tokens. At the moment, each miner receives 3 ETH tokens for their work.
Ethereum developers were worried about the high levels of centralization experienced by the Bitcoin (BTC) network. Indeed, Bitcoin mining activities are concentrated among a few large mining companies located in China. Ethereum wants to avoid the same problems that the Bitcoin network is currently facing.
The Ethereum community is in favor of the ASIC resistance implementation. With GPU miners it is possible to have a more distributed network rather than a concentrated one. ASIC miners are very expensive to be purchased and are usually bought in bulk for large mining farms. GPU miners are easier to be purchased by enthusiasts and individuals from all over the world, thus allowing the network to be larger and more decentralized.
At the same time, centralization in the mining market could have a very negative impact if there is a vulnerability in these ASIC miners. If the whole network relies on ASIC hardware, a vulnerability could be catastrophic if exploited by hackers.
WIth GPU miners the network not only becomes more decentralized but if the profitability drops, they can be used for many other activities or sold. GPU miners are multi-purpose and have several benefits for the Ethereum network.
However, some Ethereum developers and the community are worried that the implementation of the ProgPow would lead to a more centralized network. There are two main manufacturers of GPU devices, AMD and Nvidia. Both companies have already reviewed the ProgPow code. Nvidia seems to have an advantage compared to AMD GPU devices.
At the same time, if the intention is to move to a Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm it might have little or no sense to implement the ProgPow proposal. And indeed, Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, said that ASIC miners are not a threat to Ethereum.
Now, ProgPow is progressing without a clear road of how to be implemented. There are some testings underway but it is not possible to know whether ProgPow will be released to the market or not. There is also no scheduled date for it. Furthermore, Ethereum developers have been delaying the Constantinople hard fork several times due to different issues, including a security breach in one of the Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP). The Constantinople hard fork is currently scheduled for February 27.
During the Ethereum Core Developers meeting in February, they discussed the reliability of how to make a decision about releasing the patch. Some developers were already ready to start working on it and implementing it on the network. Nonetheless, other developers said that the decision must be taken by the community.
According to CryptoStlate, Piper Merriam, a core developer, commented:
I’ve largely stayed out of the discussion… It’s a decision that, frankly, I’m not excited about making for the network… but I also acknowledge that it’s potentially our responsibility to make it.”
In order to keep with it, they will be organizing a third-party audit that will verify the fairness of the new algorithm. The development on ProgPow seems to be continuing as planned. Due to the fact that Ethereum is going to move towards a Proof of Stake consensus algorithm, it is still uncertain what will happen with the ProgPow and its implementation.
Ethereum is currently being traded around $107 and has a market capitalization of $11.25 billion.