TL;DR: Using a few inferences and seeming confirmation from the Bitmain Helpdesk, 2Miners concludes, “According to etherscan.io chart the average Ethereum block time is about 13 seconds. Each epoch is 30 000 blocks. So it takes roughly 45 days for Ethereum to reach 328 epoch. Antminer E3 should stop mining Ethereum on April 8th.”
Bitmain Antminer E3 to Stop Mining Ethereum by April 8th, 2020
Prompted by heated discussion within their Telegram chat and questions to their own helpdesk, 2Miners examined closely “a sudden drop of Antminer E3 hashrate on Ethereum Classic (ETC) cryptocurrency mining pool. Ethereum (ETH) mining though was working fine. We have investigated this issue and the conclusions are disappointing,” the mining pool outfit expressed.
It’s no secret many of the Ethereum co-founders and enthusiasts are not fans of so-called proof-of-work (PoW) mining arrangments. Reasons for this vary but inevitably come down to perceived security risks, claims about hardware manufacturing centralization and rent-seeking, and environmental concerns regarding the power consumption particularly of data farms. As a result, the network has long prepared and advocated for a shift to proof-of-stake (PoS) model, which could render traditional mining rigs obsolete. Not surprisingly, miners and pools who have built businesses on top of PoW are looking for clarity.
Bitmain, the world’s largest PoW mining concern, and its Antminer E3 product are evidently planning for such a change in the structure of Ethereum. As 2Miners explained, “Antminer E3 is the first and only Ethash algorithm ASIC device produced by Bitmain,” and since summer of 2018 E3 has served as an industry workhorse.
Days ago, however, 2Miners “started receiving first reports on Antminer E3 performance on ETC pool,” whereby miners using the E3 for ETC saw a massive drop in hashrate, prompting the pool to “immediately [start] our own investigation.” It turns out ETC (Ethereum Classic) pools around world were noticing similar losses, setting off alarm bells. In the Ethereum universe, what happens on ETC is usually just ahead of what will happen on ETH.
Research into the issue included scouring official announcements from Bitmain, social media, and the company’s blog. Nothing. Finally, 2Miners turned to the mining giant’s helpdesk, inquiring about hashrate loss trends. “Sorry for your inconvenience we got the confirm from technical department,” Bitmain answered. “E3 miner is a 4G video card. E3 is related to eth algorithm, and DDR capacity is up to the upper limit, so E3 will not be able to continue mining. The meaning is E3 only can mine to January 2020, then will not mine again.”
2Miners was careful to point out Antminer E3 devices are capable of mining other so-called Ethash coins. The trade-off, as it usually is for miners, is in profitability, and Ethash coins provide returns “significantly lower than ETH or ETC,” the pool insisted, two times lower than Ethereum in fact. Some of the coins are so shaky exchanges have simply delisted them, causing others to follow in their wake. Echoing the sentiment of many in the Ethereum community, 2Miners claimed, “This latest Antminer E3 shows us one more time the strong drawback of all ASIC devices comparing to GPU’s.”
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