There have been rumors and supposed leaks about Bitmain creating an Ethash ASIC miner for months, and now it is finally official. Bitmain, which sells and develops the world’s leading Bitcoin miners, has recently announced the Antminer E3. The Antminer E3 is the first ASIC miner that is capable of mining Ether and other currencies using the Ethash algorithm.
Until now, Ethash had been resistant to ASICs, meaning that Ether could only be mined using CPUs or GPUs found in gaming computers. While those GPUs can still mine Ethash, they now have some competition from the Antminer E3.
The first batch of the Antminer E3 miners will ship out beginning in mid-to-late July (after July 16th, but before July 31st), and will likely reach their destinations sometime in August. The device costs $800 USD, delivering a hashrate of 180 MH/s with a power usage of 800W. The E3 is currently available to pre-order using either USD or BCH.
They are available for purchase across the world, with the exceptions of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau in an attempt to limit reselling and bulk buying. Also, in order to ensure everyone has a fair shot at getting one, Bitmain has put out a limit of one miner per user. This is similar to what they did with the A3 and X3 miners that they have previously released. Previously, those who tried to purchase multiple were denied and their accounts were banned.
While Bitmain is first to market with their Ethash ASIC miner, there are supposedly other manufacturers who have been developing Ethereum ASIC miners, according to Susquehanna International Group analyst Christopher Rolland:
“While Bitmain is likely to be the largest ASIC vendor (currently 70-80% of Bitcoin mining ASICs) and the first to market with this product, we have learned of at least three other companies working on Ethereum ASICs, all at various stages of development.”
While some are very excited about this announcement, others are concerned that this will make GPU mining obsolete and could lead to the centralization of miners. As a result, Ethereum developer Piper Merrium has opened EIP (Ethereum Improvement Proposal) #958, which will ask the community for their input on whether the blockchain should “fork” and how they might be able to implement improved resistance for ASIC.
Others are concerned about the longevity of the devices due to Ethereum’s planned switch from proof of work to proof of stake which is due to happen this year to help assist with scaling.