Last week, Bitmain announced the Antminer A3, an ASIC miner for Siacoin. Though described as a “Blake2b” miner, the A3 was designed to mine only Siacoin. A3 miners are currently being delivered to customers across the world, and the Sia network just passed 1.4 PH/s in hashrate.
Much has happened in the last 7 days, including an open letter from many long-term Sia community members advocating for a fork. Contributor Michael Lynch put together a helpful timeline of the week’s events.
ASICs and increased hashrate are good for the Sia network. We previously wrote a blog post detailing the benefits of ASICs. In short, ASIC mining means that Sia is protected from 51% attacks — even if mining is relatively centralized among a small number of pools and manufacturers.
When Bitmain announced Sia miners without warning, we were naturally concerned. Bitmain has a strong track record in Bitcoin of actively working to undermine core development, blocking important network upgrades (Segwit), backing contentious forks (Bitcoin Cash), building in backdoors (Antbleed), and much more. We consider Bitmain a bad actor in the cryptocurrency space.
At the same time, we recognize that we have a conflict of interest. Our own Obelisk SC1 is now competing directly with Bitmain’s A3. Though we have the ability to release a version of Sia that invalidates the A3s via a soft-fork, we believe that doing so before Bitmain has attacked our network would be a centralized, monopolistic move, rather than a proactive, protective measure.
Therefore, we will not be supporting a soft-fork at this time.
Over the last few months, we have thought a lot about our values. We codified three key truths that represent Sia:
- Doing it right matters. We don’t cut corners. We are focused and realistic, thoughtful and deliberate. The decisions we make and the code we write are foundational — they must be solid because they must stand the test of time. Every choice is a choice we’ll live with for the long run.
- We’re building an empowered community. We believe in the power of many. We cannot do this alone. Success requires active participants who contribute and create value. We share a common set of beliefs — an ethos of fairness and decentralization.
- The internet is for everyone. The concentration of power among a few internet players isn’t good for the world. We’re returning sovereignty to individuals. Our distributed, decentralized storage is stronger, more secure, more efficient, and more equitable for all. The internet was not meant to be controlled by a few — it belongs to everyone.
At this point in time, choosing to fork would mean compromising on our values as a company and a community, even though Bitmain poses a serious threat to the Sia network.
So what can we do to make sure Bitmain behaves? First, forking is still an option if Bitmain openly attacks the Sia network, or actively resists important software updates. The community can still decide to invalidate all Bitmain hardware if we are attacked. If Bitmain takes any action to harm the Sia project, we will soft-fork to invalidate their hardware.
Third, we will encourage as many ASIC producers as possible — including Obelisk — to develop miners for Siacoin in order to foster a robust, competitive ecosystem with many options for customers.
And fourth, we will lead an effort to build decentralized mining pools, and put resources into new research like microchains that treat mining as a hired service, rather than as a reward.
We understand that this decision may disappoint those who signed the open letter, as well as many other community members. And it may also disappoint Obelisk buyers, who were hoping to have no competition from other ASIC hardware.
But it’s important that we stay true to our values and build Sia into the world’s best decentralized storage network, with petabytes and then exabytes of stored data. We are trying to do more than build a company — we are trying to build a new internet protocol. We are trying to build a storage layer for the internet. And we therefore cannot afford to damage our reputation and split the community when we are this young.
Throughout 2018, we will take key steps to bring Sia into the spotlight, including launching a new website, overhauling the brand, fundraising, and locking in enterprise partnerships. We hope that these actions will increase Siacoin’s value so that all miners, including Bitmain and Obelisk buyers, will receive highly profitable hardware.
And we welcome all new Bitmain customers as Sia community members.
– Team Sia