A new ProgPoW algorithm which has the potential to make Ethereum network resistant to ASIC mining recently started gaining a lot of support from ETH network participants. However, the new situation has also inspired a number of rumors, debates, and even conspiracy theories.
ProgPoW is a new version of PoW algorithm which can make Ethereum's transition to PoS much smoother. It came to be as a solution to the Ethereum network's mining difficulty bomb, and it now has the potential to make the network much more stable and resistant to various attacks.
ProgPoW stands for Programmatic Proof-of-Work, and it is also designed in a way that will allow it to eliminate application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners. This is necessary as ASICs make mining less efficient for those who do not use them, thus leading to more centralized mining.
While there are several other projects that have found solutions to ASIC use, ProgPoW operates in a slightly different way. It uses a random task sequence to eliminate the possibility of creating a fixed pipeline, which is how ASICs usually tend to take over new blocks. As a result, ASICs will prove inefficient, and it is hoped that this will disrupt ASIC manufacturers and allow GPU miners to participate more when it comes to block solving.
The new algorithm is expected to bring five innovations to Ethereum's network:
- Keccak changes, where the Keccak hash function size decreases by half;
- Increased mix state, which is the number of processor registers where intermediate values can be stored. They work considerably faster than RAM, as they are stored within the processor;
- The addition of a random sequence of calculations to the main loop, which will make it impossible for ASICs to create a fixed pipeline;
- The addition of reads from a low-latency cache with support for random addresses, which will force ASICs to follow the same memory rules as GPU, thus limiting their capabilities;
- The increase of DRAM from 128 bytes to 256 bytes, which will allow bigger volumes to favor video cards.
Why is ProgPoW Necessary?
The implementation of the new algorithm is deemed necessary in order to reduce the influence that ASICs have on the crypto sphere. As mentioned, their ability to take over mining and prevent non-ASIC users from making a profit is highly disruptive and unfair towards other participants.
At this time, ProgPoW is considered the most ASIC-resistant algorithm out there. This and other similar solutions have become increasingly necessary as the ASIC production surged in the last year and disrupted the mining process of Ethereum, as well as multiple other projects. While ASICs have become a common tool used in Bitcoin mining, most other projects remain strongly against them.
Considering how new ProgPoW is, there are still not many programs that can be used for mining cryptos. There is also not a lot of projects that are using it at this time. The first one to even implement it was Bitcoin Interest (BCI), back in September 2018. So far, only a few miners have received support for ProgPoW, with the latest one being TT-Miner chip.
The Community Reaction
While the new algorithm is dedicated to supporting non-ASIC users, which is ultimately good for the miners, the project, as well as the community — the new algorithm also brought controversy. For example, while it protects the blockchain from ASICs, it also seems to favor Nvidia video card owners, while AMD device owners do not enjoy the same benefits.
To many, this is a similar type of centralization as the one that the use of ASICs can lead to. Ethereum's Vitalik Buterin views it as a distraction, while many others remain openly skeptical. In addition, it was difficult to understand what the community actually feels about the new algorithm due to many fake social media accounts that aim to disrupt voting and decision making.
So far, it is believed that around 35% of voters are supporting the algorithm, while some ETH users remain concerned about a possible drop in revenues, while others remain openly against it.
And, as mentioned, even some conspiracy theories emerged, with one of them claiming that the team that has developed the algorithm actually has ties to GPU producers. This theory gained strength when the team representative admitted communication with AMD and Nvidia in the past. However, even with this, there is still no proof of any real conspiracies, and it still remains just a theory.