Bitmain’s new miner for the CryptoNight algorithm causes controversy as ASIC-resistant cryptocurrencies vow to block its capabilities.
Bitmain’s just-released ASIC-powered Antminer X3, designed to mine the CryptoNight hashing algorithm used by Monero (XMR), may not be effective by its first release in May 2018, according to an article by The Next Web published yesterday, March 16.
The new Antminer, announced on Bitmain’s Twitter on March 15, comes at two price points: $11,999 for the first round in delivered May, and $7,599 for the second datch, delivered in June.
However, the project lead at Monero, Riccardo Spagni, linked to Bitmain’s Twitter announcement in his own tweet, stating that their new miner will “NOT WORK [sic]” for mining Monero:
Just a reminder that this WILL NOT work on Monero https://t.co/rhy6k2I4Yh
— Riccardo Spagni (@fluffypony) March 15, 2018
Bitmain is also offering two additional batches that ship after the first two batches, but only to addresses in Hong Kong. The two new batches are priced at $3,000 for shipping after batch 1 and $1,900 for shipping after batch 2.
Apparently following Spagni’s response, the sales pages for the two Hong-Kong bound Antminer X3 batches were updated to contain the following notice in the product description:
“One major cryptocurrency which is using CryptoNight hash function is about to change their PoW algothrim, and according to their public statement, it is purposely to brick ASIC mining rigs including X3. When you buying it, you are betting that they are wrong.”
The notice adds that there will be no refunds accepted.
In February of this year, in response to potential threats of new types of ASIC mining that would be able to mine Monero, the privacy-centered cryptocurrency wrote on their blog about their “intention to maintain ASIC resistance by swiftly reacting to any potential threat from ASICs and considering slightly modifying the PoW at every hardfork”:
“We strongly believe that it's beneficial to preserve our ASIC resistance. Therefore, we will perform an emergency hard fork to curb any potential threat from ASICs if needed. Furthermore, in order to maintain its goal of decentralization and to provide a deterrent for ASIC development and to protect against unknown or undetectable ASIC development, the Monero team proposes modifying the Cryptonight PoW hash every scheduled fork, twice a year.”
The Next Web does note that the Antminer X3 is marketed for mining more than Monero, as it is also compatible with Bytecoin, Aeon, Dash, and several others, although the site adds the caveat that there is “no guarantee this will still be the case” by May and June.
Users on Reddit have quickly taken offense to Bitmain’s new Antminer. Reddit user KnifeofPi2 posted yesterday, March 16, an excerpt from a satirical press release alleging that Bitmain was entering the “doorstopper” business:
“When asked why a doorstopper had the word "miner" in its name, Jihan Wu, the CEO of Bitmain, stated that "The Antminer X3 looks, works and sounds like a cryptocurrency miner. It even has a built-in 550 watt heater that hashes an obsolete algorithm."
Another Reddit user, hodlingvtv, took a more serious approach, writing that “Bitmain is currently performing a large scam”:
“tl,dr: Don't buy bitmain's x3. They asic mined monero and now that this will not be possible anymore they want to dump their machines on you.”
The normally secretive Bitmain made the news in late February, when a report showed that the four-year-old company had made profits between $3 and $4 bln in 2017, while American graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturer Nvidia, founded 24 years ago, made $3 bln during the same time period.