Slaying a dragon, one fork at a time

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

Ever since Bitmain announced Antminer A3, the ASIC for Siacoin, the Sia community has been locked in an intense argument about what to do next. Here's a timeline of the events.

Jan 23rd
A message to Nebulous and the Sia community
(Eddie Wang and Nick Hansen)

"We want Nebulous Inc. to implement a soft-fork later in the coming months as we believe that a preemptive defensive move is necessary to protect the network."

Jan 25th
Response to the Sia community and Bitmain
(Sia Blog, by Zach Hebert)

"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."

The core dev team and community members are pushing back on the mining giant's involvement, such as crowd-funded ASIC Obelisk, and have been engaging in fierce debates on the best course of actions.

Why SIA SHOULD Soft fork away Bitmain miners from r/siacoin
Bitmain has achieved its best case scenario... from r/siacoin

May 13
The state of cryptocurrency mining
(David Vorick)

"But it’s well established in the industry that Bitmain plays dirty, and it’s been suggested to us from all sides that they have been and will continue making moves within our supply chain to ensure we can’t succeed, and that they do the same with all of their competitors."

July 27
How Bitmain indeed mines in secret
(Hakkane)

"Using an automated script, SiaStats found more than 2100 new blocks that Antpool rejects to claim. These blocks have been added to SiaStats databases, and more blocks are automatically being added as soon as their payouts are sent to known Antpool’s master addresses. The most interesting fact is that the oldest block we can track of Antpool is #132204, dated on November 17th, what means that Bitmain mined Siacoins in secret for exactly 2 months."

After several hiccups along the production process that led to the delay of the delivery of Obelisk machines, the community is torn on how to salvage the situation. This week, the Obelisk made an announcement to re-initiate the fork proposal, which would render the Bitmain machines obsolete.

Obelisk Proposed Compensation Plan from r/ObeliskHQ

Sia will not be the first to fork away from Bitmain's influence. Earlier this year, Monero community made a unanimous decision to hard fork, bricking Bitmain's CryptoNight miners.

Although business in Siacoin is a rather small portion of Bitmain's empires, this event comes at an interesting time. As the mining giant is preparing to launch its massive IPO, everything is put under the microscope and scrutinized by the serious investors.

(Disclosure: Iterative Capital holds Sia and has pre-ordered Obelisk machines).

Technical Updates

Mining ROI decay from delay

The great filter: why shouldn't you ICO on Ethereum
(Christian Rudder)

"But most blockchain companies don’t need smart contracts to execute their core business logic or want to dodge some legal or jurisdictional problem. They just want to issue digital assets and process transactions. That’s exactly where Ethereum will let you down."

'Foreshadow' Intel processor attack bypasses protections for secure data held on chip
(AppleInsider, by Malcolm Owen)

"Speculative execution attacks rely on a processor's guess of what operation it will be asked to perform, and its preparation. This is done to save resources, but at the same time produces information that could be useful for an attacker to insert their own instructions, and in turn gain control of the system. "

News & Commentary

A debate thread on Tether

Ether, a double digit shitcoin
(BitMex Crypto Trader Digest)

"The VC investor who has never suffered the vagaries of the market is as green as the noob who thinks he or she can go from 1 to 100 Bitcoin in a few trading days. They don’t have the mental strength to cut positions to limit further losses, or backup the truck and buy opportune dips even though they are down. More importantly, LPs can now see an objective last price for a particular token, and can’t be hoodwinked. They will attempt to be a Monday morning quarterback, and that only adds to the VC investors’ anxiety."