Developers building public blockchains are faced with slowly losing the war against Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASICs). ASIC-resistant developers are facing an eternal “cat and mouse” chase in which some have claimed they may have already lost.
Drawing from a post on Medium by Derek Hsue, in this article, BTCManager will discuss the pros and cons of ASIC-resistant implementations and ultimately answer the question: Should crypto keep fighting ASICs?
An Endless Battle
Developers working on Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchains are presented with an enormous challenge: Bitmain, the well known China-based cryptocurrency mining hardware outfit currently holds a strategic monopoly over ASIC miner production.
Bitmain’s syndicate over hash power and its far-spreading tentacles are somehow nefarious to the ecosystem. This corporation endangers the space by making protocols vulnerable to censorship as well as implementing code changes as if they were ordered from a single central authority.
Avoiding this leads developers to implement ASIC-resistant protocols by using memory-hard consensus algorithms that render ASIC usage unprofitable.
While some developers implement minor changes in the code to deal with this issue, other developers look to solve the problem by completely abandoning the PoW consensus algorithm and turn to alternatives such as PoS, DPoS, or Threshold Relay. While intriguing at first, these solutions still fall short as they come with a host of other issues and allow for different vectors of centralization.
The Pros and Cons of ASICs
Despite being seen as an obstacle, ASIC networks also have specific benefits and are often more efficient than ASIC-resistant systems. This is mainly because of the energy efficiency and the security ASICs bring to the network.