A Samsung spokesperson recently told Techcrunch that Samsung is “currently engaged in the manufacturing of cryptocurrency mining chips.” They’ve already gotten a taste for cryptocurrency mining as they also produce memory chips for GPUs, which have seen a huge spike in price ever since altcoin mining became popular back in summer 2017. These chips look to supply ASIC manufacturers that produce consumer-ready hardware to sell to the public.
Bitmain, an ASIC manufacturer, produces the vast majority of the world’s ASIC’s at the moment. They’ve been able to produce the most efficient miners in an industry where profit margins are already very small. However, a better product can quickly change the competitive landscape. Bitmain works with TSMC, a Taiwanese chip manufacturing company. Samsung will be a direct competitor with TSMC, but this new-found competition could spawn new hardware manufacturers and may even prompt Samsung to build full ASIC’s rather then just selling the chips.
Bitmain recently announced they had built ASICs for Ethereum and Monero, coins previously thought to be ASIC-resistant. The Monero development team decided to tweak the mining algorithm to effectively brick any ASICs mining on the network and added it to their scheduled network upgrade that occurred earlier this month. However, three groups hard forked to create their own versions – monero classic, monero original and monero zero. (Each new software is compatible with and open to ASIC miners.)
Ethereum developers have spoken out against an emergency hard fork in response to ASICs, and Vitalik Buterin called for “no action” on the issue. In response, one ethereum miner called Buterin’s standpoint a “slap in the face.”
Rob Stumpf, the moderator of EtherMining, the ethereum mining subreddit, said:
“If a developer believes that he or she can improve upon [ethereum] and wishes to start their own fork, they can do just that.”
This whole mining chip debate has brought back ethereum’s interest in scrapping mining by moving from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. Buterin told developers at a recent meeting that ASICs would be flushed out with the upgrade so there isn’t much to worry about (although there still isn’t a date nailed down for that change).
Speaking to ethereum developer’s interest in eliminating mining, Stumpf said:
“Mining was always doomed from the start; it is just a ticking difficulty bomb waiting to explode.”
NVIDIA’s GPUs have seen huge price spikes over the past year as the growing price of cryptocurrency makes mining more and more profitable. People are building massive specialized rigs to mine ASIC-resistant coins, which means the average Joe who wants the newest GTX 1080 to play some video games may have to pay a premium of several hundred dollars extra to get the graphics card. The NVIDIA CEO has spoken to the public about this issue, asking retailers to prioritize sales to gamers over miners.