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Bitmain has announced a new cryptocurrency mining hardware product dedicated to the Equihash algorithm, which is used by the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency zcash.
On Thursday, mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain revealed that it had developed the first Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miner capable of mining on Equihash-secured networks. Bitmain’s Zcash ASIC miner — the Antminer Z9 Mini — has an advertised hashrate of 10k Sol/s and is scheduled to begin shipping in late June.
Bitmain tweeted its announcement shortly after 6:30 a.m. EDT:
“Pleased to announce the Antminer Z9 mini, an ASIC miner to mine #Equihash-based cryptocurrencies. To prevent hoarding and to let more individuals worldwide get one, we’ve set a limit of one miner per user. Order here (https://goo.gl/fqzDLV ) now while stock lasts!
ASICs have been introduced for other hash algorithms in the past, leading to sea-changes in the mining industries of bitcoin, litecoin and, most recently, ether. Zcash adopted Equihash to stave off the development of Zcash ASIC miners, and the cryptocurrency has heretofore been mined primarily using hardware powered by general purpose GPU chips, which are widely used among PC gamers.
This fact has made ASICs controversial since their introduction tends to centralize mining into a few large operations. Opponents of ASIC mining argue that this trend is antithetical to the decentralized intent of cryptocurrencies, and some projects’ developers have promised to change their networks’ underlying functions to thwart manufacturers like Bitmain.
Zooko Wilcox, zcash’s founder, commented on the prospect of ASIC miners being developed for zcash Wednesday.
“I’m really chagrined that I let it sound like we were committing to a social contract of ongoing ASIC-resistance,” he wrote, adding:
“That is absolutely never what I had intended to commit to, because (a) I always thought that it would probably become impossible long-term, and (b) I always believed that there was a fundamental trade-off between widespread distribution of the coins on one hand, and miners having a large sunk-cost investment into the coin on the other hand, and that the latter might eventually prove to be valuable for attack-resistance and network stability.”
And as one moderator on the official zcash forum put it: “The current state of the ASIC resistance conversation is: still being debated.”