Ethereum ProgPow Set for July Amid Heavy Opposition
Ethereum core developers have announced rather suddenly that the long-discussed programmatic proof-of-work (ProgPoW) will be implemented as a part of the hard fork scheduled to follow the planned Berlin upgrade. This has once again split the community into different camps of opinion.
Two years after its proposal, criticized even by many Ethereum developers, ProgPoW will be arriving to Ethereum. Core developers have agreed during a call last Friday to go with the EIP 1962 (Ethereum Improvement Proposal) that will bring additional cryptographic functions, tentatively set for June 2020, with the ProgPoW hard fork following it three weeks later, in July 2020, bringing forth a new mining algorithm.
This call was a beefy one! Thank you for the live recap!— James Hancock 🏗 (@JHancock) February 21, 2020
At the end we discussed a proposed fork schedule.
- Berlin: includes BLS Precompile upgrade some time in June. This preps for the Eth2 deposit contract.
- Standalone Progpow upgrade the following 3rd Wed https://t.co/fanKs7Cdk9
As a reminder, there's an ever-present fear of re-centralization of crypto, the cause of which some say could be the expansion of ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) chips, which can mine cryptocurrency more efficiently than GPUs (graphics processing units) and CPUs (central processing units), but which are also so expensive that only the biggest companies can run them. Ethereum team's solution to this was agreeing to implement ASIC mining hardware resistance after testing the proposed code, so to effectively block ASIC chips usage with the update dubbed ProgPoW and replace it with GPU hardware, so that GPU mining remains competitive.
Meanwhile, ProgPow-related EIP 1057 states that the goal is "to resist the centralization of PoW [proof of work] mining power such that these coins couldn’t be so easily manipulated by a few players." The proposal adds that the algorithm is not backwards compatible with the existing Ethash, that it will require a fork for adoption, and that the network hashrate will halve "since twice as much memory is loaded per hash."
On the other side stand many developers and ETH supporters who fear that this may result in exchanges running two versions of Ethereum, with the old and the new mining algorithm, which would mean a chain split on two blockchains with different mining rules. Other reasons against it include the opinion that core developers have too much power, as well as the unwillingness to "hold tokens of a chain that hard forks against the will of the majority of its users," as Gnosis founder and OpenEthereum maintainer Martin Köppelmann says.
James Hancock, Ethereum Hardfork Coordinator, believes that a split won't happen, stating in the call: "I have not seen any evidence that there is an ideological or people willing to step up and actually have a network split. If I’m wrong I’ll resign as hardfork coordinator."
Meanwhile, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin criticized the way in which the decision was made. "It went from "phew, this thing is gone and has not been talked about for quite a while" to "OMG it's now SCHEDULED FOR THE NEXT HARDFORK???!" within the span of 1.5 hours," he writes.
Eric Conner, Gnosis product researcher and Ethereum advocate, argues that EIP should be discussed thoroughly on multiple forums, and that if "there is any hint of contention from a large set of community members," per EIP 1, that EIP "should die there." Conner refuses to run a ProgPoW version of Ethereum.
If progpow goes in, it's a clear sign of broken governance and eth1 has been captured by special interests.— eric.eth (@econoar) February 23, 2020
eth2 resets the power structure both by new core devs and pos vs pow.
The theory is that Big ASIC will be able to spread so much FUD about PoS that they will be able to convince everyone to abandon PoS, the most anticipated change in ETH's history. And Big ASIC is more likely to do that than GPU miners cause they can't re-purpose their hardware.— DR (@kryptokadoogan) February 25, 2020
I am not pro-ProgPoW. I understand why there is that perspective. I played devil's advocate too hard earlier this y… https://t.co/x31mknDZcr— Hudson Jameson (@hudsonjameson)
@hasufl Such a weird situation. Those against it are always told they are the minority yet literally every medium I… https://t.co/KV62zZAzNn— eric.eth (@econoar)