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The Vorickle

a guest Jun 13th, 2018 60 in 8 days
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  1. I read the ASIC article. Haven't looked at the second article yet.
  2.  
  3. I have spent a good part of the last 20 years working on ASICs that run specific algorithms faster than general
  4. purpose CPUs, so it is not surprising to me ASICs can effectively attack the problems of cryptocurrencies.
  5. I am a little surprised that the cryptocurrency community cares about ASIC resistance. Why is this? The ASICs
  6. that would be used for the SHA-256 based proof of work are pretty generic and anybody could buy them or
  7. design a build them. It seems like a level playing field. Why is it better for miners to spend money on Intel CPUs
  8. than special purpose hash chips?
  9.  
  10. Having said this I think it is possible to design "memory hard" algorithms that run pretty well on a general purpose
  11. CPU and can't be accelerated much by ASICs. About 25 years ago I worked on the design of the memory system
  12. for HP's high end processor. The memory system achieved a good balance between latency, bandwidth, and cost
  13. given the DRAM technology at the time. I think an algorithm that made optimal use of memory and perhaps CPU cache
  14. as well would be very difficult to improve on using ASICs. The real problem I see is that for cryptocurrency you really want
  15. the proof of work to be "memory hard" but the verification to quick and easy. With straight forward algorithm design
  16. the verification would also be memory hard and more time consuming than is desirable.
  17.  
  18. It sounds like the real point of the article is that a hash called "equihash" claims to be memory hard to compute
  19. but quick and easy to verify. However it appears that it failed to meet the claim and was essentially broken
  20. which allows it be accelerated by an ASIC. The means for accelerating the equihash algorithm is probably
  21. worth a paper of its own. However generalizing that because equihash was broken, any memory hard
  22. algorithm can be broken and accelerated significantly using custom chips seems an overstatement and probably wrong.
  23.  
  24. I will have to look at ethash sometime to see what the algorithm is as I am not familiar with it.
  25.  
  26. But I am not sure why ASIC resistance is important. I would think it would be better for all miners to use custom hash chips. The risk
  27. of anyone doing dramatically better than  everybody else seems low.
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