Bitmain, the leading Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining hardware producer, has announced a new mining rig designed specifically for use on the Decred network. The Antminer DR3 is an ASIC miner. News of this has been received with mixed reactions from fans of the Decred community, with some favoring the move as it should bring more efficiency to the blockchain, and others worrying that it will damage Decered’s network as a whole. Bitmain’s track record is not fantastic, so there are numerous people who are skeptical that this announcement can mean anything good for the future.
Bitmain and altcoins
The fact that Bitmain would decide to produce a mining rig for a coin which is only ranked at 30 for its market cap may come as a surprise to some, but this is not exactly unusual for the company. The mining giant is known to target the smaller cryptocurrencies, such as Sia which is ranked even lower at 37. When Bitmain released their dedicated Sia ASIC miner, there was a raft of backlash, with fans of the coin fearing that they were going to dismantle or injure the ecosystem. Even the lead developer David Vorick voiced his opinion on the matter. There is a vocal community of people who argue that the use of ASICs is counterproductive to cryptocurrency as well as ideologically opposed to it, this is because once ASICs, such as the Antminer DR3, become dominant on a blockchain, they become the only way to make a living via mining, and ASICs generally outprice the average enthusiast. When tools such as GPU miners are used instead, it gives a more level playing field. ASICs are also known to cause some adverse reactions to hashrates.
Monero was also the target of Bitmain in the past— its developers did not take to that lightly. Once the Antminer X3 was announced, Monero chose to develop an ASIC resistant protocol on the XMR blockchain. This effectively rendered the Antminer X3 useless on the blockchain. Some Decred fans are expecting developers to do the same due to the Antminer DR3, but this is unlikely as the Decred team is actually pro-ASICs.
Antminer DR3 and Decred
The Decred Project Lead and CEO, Jake Yocom-Piatt, has stated on Reddit in the past his view regarding ASIC mining. “…as we saw with Decred prior to the recent rise of ASIC hashpower, a lot of the GPU mining was done by GPU farms, not so much a bunch of amateur miners. if you’re a pure PoW cc and trying to stay ASIC-resistant, you will find yourself playing a game of whack-a-mole, which i find quite boring. if the distribution of hashpower for Decred becomes a more serious problem, the stakeholders can vote to change the PoW algorithm.”
Clearly, Decred will be taking a hands-off approach when it comes to ASIC mining. It is worth noting that Yocom-Piatt’s comment was regarding a highly pro-ASIC article by software engineer Philip Daian. The article argues that building ASIC resistance into an already existing blockchain is counterproductive and economically damaging as it is likely to increase centralization in the process. He states that coexistence is not just possible but perhaps necessary. Daian also makes it clear that if developers do choose to make their projects ASIC-resistant, they should be as honest as possible about their reasoning. Transparency is one of the most important ideologies of the blockchain world, and when projects do not adhere to it, fans turn away, and investors get worried. He states that “In the short term, [forks designed to bring ASIC resistance] absolutely work to target particular actors. But if this is what is desired, it’s important to be politically honest about intentions.”
One interesting point which Yocom-Piatt made in his Reddit comment was that stakeholders would be able to vote on whether they wanted a change to the Proof of Work algorithm. This means that while Yocom-Piatt (and supposedly other Decred developers) may favor miners such as the Antminer DR3 if the public got worried about them they would have a way of doing something about it. As news of the Antminer DR3 is still fresh, it is hard to gauge fully where the community stands, but it will comfort fans to know that they will not be forced to endure it simply due to the CEO’s preference. The coming weeks will give a much more accurate understanding of what the community is feeling with regards to the announcement of the Antminer DR3, as there are numerous enthusiasts who are still forming an opinion.
Kai is a cryptocurrency copywriter and professional trader. He can often be found investigating various cryptocurrencies, whitepapers, and blockchain technologies. Kai has been a professional writer for 5+ years, and has invested in 50+ different coins and tokens. He also currently studies Law and Philosophy at university.