Programmatic Proof-of-Work aka ProgPoW is undoubtedly one of the most discussed topics in the Ethereum community. The protocol proposed by developer team, IfDefElse, is a GPU-tuned extension of ETHash and its main purpose is to reduce the control of ASIC miners on the network by making graphic cards more competitive. This protocol was introduced to the community as concerns were raised regarding ASIC miners, resulting in GPU mining being less profitable and increasing the risks of centralization.
There are essentially two main functions of this protocol: changes the statement of the problem frequently and ensure that all components of graphic cards are used to its full extent. The developer team also worked alongside AMD and Nvidia, two of the leading graphics card manufacturers for the testing of this protocol.
In a medium blog post, the team had stated,
“We have seen the community repeatedly ask for a PoW algorithm where specialized ASICs have a minimal advantage over commodity hardware available to everyone […] ProgPoW is designed to drastically reduce the efficiency gains available to specialized ASIC.”
The protocol was initially supposed to be implemented in the upcoming Istanbul hard fork, which is set to take place in the coming months. However, the implementation was passed down to the next upgrade because of delays associated with its hardware and software audit; the next hard fork is set to occur at the beginning of 2020.
The hardware audit is being handled by Bob Rao, a semiconductor technologist and the software audit is being carried out by Least Authority. The initial audit report by Least Authority was recently released and this was a topic of discussion during the 70th Ethereum Core Devs Meeting.
The main goal of the audit was to assess its effects on Ethereum’s security with regard to Ethereum’s algorithm,