In February we talked about Programmatic Proof Of Work. This algorithm, widely known as ProgPoW, is a substitute for Ethash. Its task is to narrow the gap in efficiency between GPUs and ASICs. This way miners won’t be left without income and Ethereum won’t become more centralized. The community likes the idea of ProgPoW.
A lot has changed in the community since our article about ProgPoW was first published – the new algorithm attracted some criticism. The main opponent’s reason is that ProgPoW integration will supposedly slow down the long-awaited transition to Proof-of-Stake.
The algorithm is unlikely to delay the movement towards Ethereum 2.0. Of course, the developers will have to work on code, testing, and forking, but it will be the task of a separate team working on ETH 1.0 chain.
Criticism doesn’t mean that ProgPoW is not appreciated. It has a lot of strengths and the community knows it. On January 4, 2019, Ethereum Core Developers approved the plans to integrate the algorithm. In the next meeting on February 1, they put Ethereum Cat Herders in charge of the algorithm audit process.
Ethereum Cat Herders identified two main tasks: research on public opinion about the algorithm and then conduct its technical audit.
They decided to use different ways to find out the opinion of the community. For example, by conducting anonymous polls – the results are on this page. There you will find the expert advice on the ProgPoW integration, its main pros, and cons, ASIC resistance, etc. As a result, 43% are in favor of the new algorithm, 29% are against.
Another way to express your opinion on the new algorithm is coin voting. The amount of ETH in your wallet determines your voting power. Seems fair, right?
Here almost 94% supported the ProgPoW integration. A little over 6% are against. The voting ended on April 10.
And the last poll type is hashrate voting for miners and mining pools. The results are very explicit.
So the community is clearly in favor of the update. Now let’s move on to the technical audit.
Why ProgPoW Needs an Audit
An audit is an absolute must. ProgPoW is the new version of Ethash that was also audited back in the day. Experts must make sure that the transition to the original algorithm won’t compromise the security of the Ethereum network. And it’s also crucial that hackers don’t steal thousands of ETH right after the update or later on.
What Will Be Checked during the ProgPoW Audit?
Auditors have a lot of work to do:
- evaluate security risks: assess the cost of 51% attack, identify weak points, conduct the cryptographic code review;
- evaluate ASIC resistance: evaluate known methods of hash function acceleration, determine the amount of time needed to create an ASIC, estimate potential profits of the first generation of such devices;
- check the algorithm for biases: compare the performance of Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, analyze the results of benchmark tests;
- perform tests: simulate a hard fork to verify a smooth transition, repeat the procedure, and make sure that everything is working correctly.
What Are Success Criteria of the Audit?
The main task of ProgPoW is to narrow the gap between GPUs and ASICs. The new algorithm doesn’t ban ASICs; it just makes them less efficient. So the audit may be considered a success if the efficiency gap between different types of hardware becomes insignificant.
It will bring balance to the network. Hash rate must depend on the GPU cost, ideally in proportion. No insane advantages over the rest. All manufacturers are equal, and so are miners.
Who Will Perform the Audit?
The experts of Least Authority will perform the task. In 2015 they audited Ethereum, and at the beginning of 2019, they reviewed the changes for ZCash. The developers surely have experience. But the deadline is unknown: among other things, the duration of the ProgPoW audit will depend on funding.
How Can You Support ProgPoW?
For ProgPoW to be implemented, it has to be audited first, and the audit requires money. Ethereum Foundation and major mining pools are going to cover the audit cost partially. Ethereum Cat Herders are hoping to raise the rest of the money from the mining community. The total amount needed is $50 000, and it is being collected in DAI stablecoin.
Fundraising from the mining community is held on Gitcoin. You can support the project and bring closer the equality era of ETH mining. To do this, you must be registered on Github and have Metamask installed:
1. Register on Github.
2. Log in to Gitcoin and click on Fund This Grant button.
3. Choose ‘One Time’ from Contribution type menu and indicate how much DAI you want to donate. If you don’t have DAI stablecoin in your wallet, the easiest and fastest way to exchange ETH to DAI is a decentralized exchange Kyberswap.com
4. Click on Contribute to Grant and confirm the transaction in Metamask.
Too complicated for you? There are easier ways as well:
1. Support the audit by mining to a particular ETH address:
0x68085e7f88e90fa9247489c83fab30b177ebccb3, just indicate it in your bat file.
2. Transfer ETH directly to the grant address: 0x68085e7f88e90fa9247489c83fab30b177ebccb3.
ProgPoW is the next stage of Ethereum evolution. The update will diminish the advantage of ASICs and protect GPU owners. GPU hash rate is lower than that of ASIC, so the network will benefit from the higher number of devices and will become more decentralized.
It may become a part of the Istanbul update. And while we wait for this moment to come, we have time to support the project by our efforts.