Bitmain 8000 Antminer Z9 Mini are on the way to the customers


Bitmain has delivered the first ASIC miners for Equihash, graphics cards are now no chance. This eases attacks as they happened on Bitcoin Gold.

Chinese mining hardware maker Bitmain has announced the delivery of the first ASIC miners for the hash algorithm Equihash. Already 8000 Antminer Z9 Mini are on the way to the customers. If they go into operation in the next few weeks, the previously used graphics card miners are no longer competitive, also shifts the power structure and threatening new attacks on cryptocurrencies.

The Zcash Foundation has designed Equihash’s proof-of-work algorithm specifically to prevent the development of custom-fit processors (ASICs). The algorithm is also used in Bitcoin Gold and Bitcoin Private.

The manufacturer Bitmain has nevertheless managed to design such a chip and to offer the Antminer Z9 Mini equipped with it at an unrivaled price: $ 2,000 should cost a miner, as an average hash performance Bitmain 10,000 sols (Solutions per Second, equivalent to hashes per second). That’s a price of $ 200 per KSol / s performance. The power consumption should be 300 watts, that is equivalent to 30 watts per KSol / s.

Graphics cards have no chance

Previous mining companies for cryptocurrencies with Equihash and similar algorithms used Nvidia graphics cards, especially the model GeForce 1080 Ti. Eight to twelve cards worth 6,000 to 10,000 euros were not uncommon per miner, the graphics cards were at times barely or only individually to get in the trade. With a power consumption of 180 watts, the graphics card has a hash performance of more than 650 Sol / s

The acquisition costs are around 1200 Euros per KSol / s and the operation requires 275 Watts of power per KSol / s – almost ten times as much as the new Antminer Z9 Mini. Electricity is the main cost factor in mining farms, and the graphics cards cost about five times as much as the new ASIC miner.

New power relations

With the advent of ASIC miners, power relations at Zcash and other Equihash crypto currencies are also changing. With graphics cards targeted as the primary mining hardware, hash performance was broadly distributed – even private PCs were well-suited as miners.

In the future, this will not be worthwhile, the hash performance should increase dramatically in the coming weeks – not least fueled by the delivery of more Antminer by Bitmain. This will result in a similar centralization as Bitcoin, where most of the hashing is provided by a few big players and large mining pools.

Bitcoin Gold ripped off

What’s more, attacks on Equihash cryptocurrencies are made easier by the dramatic performance gains that an Antminer has over existing miners. Back in May, the Zcash Foundation and researchers at the University of Luxembourg observed that 20 to 30 percent of the hash performance for Equihash was provided by ASIC or FPGA miners, not graphic card miners.

At the same time, there was a three-day 51-percent attack on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin Gold, in which the attackers captured cryptocurrencies worth an estimated $ 18 million. In a 51 percent attack, an attacker brings miners with hash performance of 51 percent of the entire network or more under his control. This allows him to manipulate the blockchain of the affected cryptocurrency at will, thus undoing already executed transactions.

The attackers did so in mid-May by first selling their Bitcoin Gold, investing the money, undoing the transaction and selling the Bitcoin Gold a second time.

Attacks made easy

For the attack on Bitcoin Gold, the attackers needed only about 30 MSol / s – that would be equivalent to the performance of just 3000 Antminer Z9 Mini. However, it is estimated that the attackers had over five times hashed performance. With that, they could have wiped out the cryptocurrency Bitcoin Gold at any time and could completely bring the trade to a standstill.

Why the attackers stopped is not known – and they could repeat the attack at any time in the same way. After all, Zcash threatens with an overall hash performance of about 500 MSol / s no acute danger, all previously delivered Antminer Z9 Mini come to a total performance of only 80 MSol / s – that’s not enough for an attack. The danger is indirectly that the hash power should centralize in the future on a few big players – just as it happened with Bitcoin, as the ASIC miners replaced the graphics card and FPGA miners.

image by Bitmain