Ethereum developers have already reached a tentative consensus to implement a new proof-of-work algorithm that would increase the efficiency of GPU-based mining on the network, as opposed to the ASIC-based type of mining.
During the meeting, developer Hudson Jameson noted that he had heard “very little dissent” to implementing “ProgPoW,” which has so far been trialed via client implementations running on the “Gangnam” testnet.
A testnet is essentially a simulated version of the primary network that enables developers to try out upgrades or run smart contracts without having to pay “gas” (computation fees) for the execution.
ASIC refers to mining hardware that uses the Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips, which are tailored to efficiently mine cryptocurrency based on the specific hashing algorithm. Meanwhile, set-ups that use graphics processing units (GPUs) are less specialized and have therefore to date floundered to compete for rewards on the network with those that deploy ASICs.
Two developers from the ProgPoW team gave their digest of recent developments to the algorithm’s specification, which has reportedly not only made it “a little bit harder” for ASIC miners but have also stabilized hash rates.
Security lead Martin Hoist Swende gave his opinion that ProgPoW is more resistance both to ASICs and to certain accelerators that can be used for GPU-based setups and that a switch to ProgPoW would “postpone the level of ASICs on our network for at least a year on our network, or perhaps more.”
He also noted that Ethereum’s present PoW algorithm, Ethash, sports some “flaws which are currently being targeted,” adding that “that’s why I would like to switch as soon as possible to give us time to move to proof-of-stake.”
As reported, after evolving through the hybrid PoS-PoW Casper protocol, Ethereum is expected to ultimately transition to PoS (Casper v2). Alongside sharding, the latter will attempt to mitigate the excessive energy consumption associated with PoW, “issues with equal access to mining hardware, mining pool centralization,” as well as offering an on-chain scaling solution.
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The developers’ meeting today comes just before the scheduled implementation of Ethereum’s fifth system-wide update, or hard fork, dubbed “Constantinople.”
The developers leaned towards rolling out ProgPoW sometime before the launch of the subsequent planned hard fork, Istanbul, as a stand-alone but system-wide upgrade, although the exact timing for ProgPoW will continue to be discussed in the next developers’ meeting on January 18.