Cryptocurrency advocates are constantly bitcoin asic control to convince non-experts of the advantages of permissionless blockchains, typically by explaining how a decentralized system of consensus-based record-keeping produces an immutable, censorship-resistant ledger. But this doesn’t exactly square with reality. There’s a strong argument that first bitcoin, and now other permissionless cryptocurrencies, have become less decentralized over time, even as their value has grown. ASICs, the engines driving the rigs in giant mining farms.
They have so affected the market structure of blockchain networks that they are now the source of much division within their communities, stirring debates over potential forks in the code and exposing the need for blockchains to resolve one of their other core challenges: governance. If the little guy can’t participate, they argue, the result is re-centralization. What’s more, there’s a dependency on a dominant chip manufacturer, Bitmain, creating a kind of vulnerable, trusted third-party relationship. Not everyone sees ASICs as a negative. There’s a security argument, for example, that all that expensive, efficient hashing power makes for a more formidable expenditure barrier for a potential “51-percent attacker” to overcome.
But the sense that ASICs are a danger to the decentralized dream of cryptocurrencies is widespread, which is why creators of different altcoins have made various engineering efforts to stave off the perceived threat. Short-lived fixes They’ve designed “ASIC-resistant” proof-of-work algorithms, altering them to require extra memory-based computing tasks beyond the basic hashing function. But in many cases, this is now looking like a temporary fix, as chipmakers seem to be increasingly designing ASICs that can carry out all the tasks assigned by these “memory-hard” algorithms. These developments are sowing divisions within blockchain communities. But anyone who has invested in the new products is opposed to these anti-ASIC measures.