PoWx is developing Optical Proof of Work (OPoW) technology, in order to decentralize cryptocurrency mining by making energy costs negligible and changing how Bitcoin mining equipment is manufactured. OPoW will use Application Specific Photonic Integrated Circuits (ASPICs), which will open the door for competition between mining equipment manufacturers since ASPICs are less developed than ASICs. (unlike the current situation where Bitmain is dominating the Bitcoin mining industry).
ASPICs are built with silicon and can perform computations at the speed of light. ASPICs are extremely energy efficient since photonic circuits are nearly loss-less; there is barely any loss of energy as light travels through the circuit. Energy usage will be negligible with ASPICs, which solves one of the biggest problems with PoW. As it is now, Bitcoin PoW mining consumes tremendous amounts of electricity and is on track to comprise 0.5% of global electricity consumption, releasing large amounts of pollutants into the environment from the burning of fossil fuels and increasing average electricity costs worldwide.
Another unfortunate downside to using such tremendous amounts of electricity is centralization. Bitcoin mining has become concentrated in large warehouses run by major mining firms like Bitmain due to electricity needs. It is much less profitable for individual miners to attempt Bitcoin mining since the mining equipment costs much more when it isn’t purchased wholesale, and when electricity isn’t purchased at a wholesale rate.
The end result is most of the world’s Bitcoin mining is controlled by Bitmain and some other firms, making it quite centralized, and susceptible to attacks by hostile governments. If a large enough amount of Bitcoin mining equipment is sitting in large warehouses in a single country, like China, the government could take over the equipment with force and do what they wish with the Bitcoin network.
With OPoW the field will be leveled, and individual miners will once again be able to profitably mine Bitcoin since electricity costs will no longer be an issue.
Additionally, OPoW is inherently quantum resistant, which could prove quite beneficial as quantum computers become more powerful. Without quantum resistance eventually, someone who makes a powerful enough quantum computer could have such a high hash rate versus classical computers that they mine almost all the bitcoins on a daily basis, causing Bitcoin to become centralized.
Even if OPoW is fully perfected and ready for operational use, it seems unlikely that Bitcoin miners will accept such an algorithm switch. This is because Bitcoin miners are heavily invested in classical ASICs, and changing to ASPICs would ruin their business. It is more likely that a new cryptocurrency will be developed that uses OPoW and ASPICs, and perhaps it will eventually become a major cryptocurrency.
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