Cryptocurrency mining hardware firm Bitmain confirmed the release of its rumored Ethereum ASIC miners on Monday. The technology is priced at USD 800 per unit and is scheduled to reach the market in July this year.
In a statement released by Bitmain on Twitter, the company noted that the Antminer E3 would have an ”ordering limit of one miner per user and [is] not available in China”, although the Bitmain website appears to state each buyer can now purchase up to five units during this round of pre-orders. Miners are only available to purchase via BCH (Bitcoin Cash) or USD.
We are pleased to announce the Antminer E3, world's most powerful and efficient EtHash ASIC miner.
Ordering limit of one miner per user and not available in China.
Limited stock, order here now: https://t.co/Zfw3afjJHs#antminerE3 pic.twitter.com/SjHu2eUThp
— BITMAIN (@BITMAINtech) April 3, 2018
The miners are the first of their kind to integrate Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips into their design, reportedly significantly increasing the efficiency of the mining process compared to general purpose GPU chips that are currently used in similar products.
Bitmain is advertising the Antminer E3 as generating a minimum of 180 MH/s. Although they have not yet reached the market, Ethereum’s notably increased hash rate in recent months could be a result of Bitmain’s private usage of the mining technology.
Despite Ethereum formerly being resistant to ASIC chips, rumors of the mining hardware have been circulating since Wall Street research firm Susquehanna revealed to clients they could confirm Bitmain’s product during a trip to Asia.
For the benefit of Ethereum?
Speculations over the direction this will take Ethereum have been mixed. For one, its technical roadmap schedules a shift away from proof-of-work, the system that allows for mining to take place at all.
As well as this, there are skeptics in the Ethereum community that doubt the ASIC chip will be capable of having a significant impact on the mining process at all, and if it does, they assume it would not inspire widespread adoption as in the case of Bitcoin ASICs.
While there are some that argue the development is a net positive for the industry, it is problematic if ASIC does indeed have an enormous impact on the efficiency of Ethereum mining, as this centralizes hash power to a small number of corporations. Right now, Bitmain’s monopoly is unrivalled.
It is likely that if the Antminer E3 does work highly efficiently, calls for Ethereum to execute a hard fork in restoring ASIC resistance will be pursued. This was the case for Monero who protested the release of Bitmain’s Cryptonight ASIC miner.
Despite the controversy surrounding the mining software, many have predicted the limited number Antminer E3s will sell out prior to their official market release in July.