Bitcoin Hardware Maker Canaan Calls for Mining Industry Changes

One of the industry's largest mining chip manufacturers is weighing in on new controversy surrounding how miners engage with the network.

AccessTimeIconApr 6, 2017 at 9:31 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:13 p.m. UTC

In the wake of allegations that bitcoin hardware manufacturers may be engaging in unfair practices, one of the industry's largest mining chip providers is calling for new transparency in the sector.

In a new interview with Canaan Creative, maker of the Avalon chip series, spokesperson Steven Mosher said the company is willing to take the first step to make its practices more open, arguing accusations levied against fellow chip maker Bitmain have exposed an issue that those in the industry now need to correct.

The comments come during a time of deep division in the community about assertions made by Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell in a reddit post last night.

Unpacked further in our CoinDesk explainer, the resulting controversy has rekindled bitcoin's scaling debate, and unearthed new ethical questions about how miners should be expected to engage with the bitcoin blockchain.

Mosher, who heads the company's sales and marketing outside of mainland China, said that regardless of whether the allegations prove true, it's the "perception" that miners may be harmful to the network that is dangerous.

Mosher told CoinDesk:

"Even the perception of an attack... A denial costs you ink. We want to get to the place where the software guys have more of an idea of what we're doing."

Mosher went on to address what he acknowledged was the business necessity that miners face the issue, given the fact that bitcoin's developer community has shown an increasing willingness to consider protocol changes that would reduce the power – or even eliminate the need for miners altogether.

Already, other blockchain networks are in the midst of such protocol changes, as ethereum plans to switch to a new consensus algorithm, proof-of-stake, designed specifically to eliminate the type of hardware mining seen in bitcoin.

At the same time, Mosher sidestepped the nuances of the debate, stating that while this would likely spark a debate about the forensics of mining chips and what can be achieved, Canaan prefers to stay out of such speculation.

"People shouldn't process this on anecdote. There's going to be a forensic look at it, let it be a transparent look at it," he said.

However, Mosher did address the technique at the heart of the controversy, the use of a patented technology called AsicBoost in an attempt to optimize mining returns.

"Do we support AsicBoost? The answer is no," Mosher said.

Mosher continued, stating that he would like for major mining hardware providers to meet as part of an effort to make more information public about their practices.

"Standing up and recounting the past, recounting Hong Kong or said what, or who called who a dipshit, it's time for the grown-ups to do what we know how to do," he said, adding:

"We have to be open about what we're doing and what our intentions are."

Avalon image via CoinDesk Archieve


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