Bye-Bye Bitmain – Siacoin Hardfork to Focus on Homegrown Mining Rigs

The Siacoin (SC) development team have opted to reverse their initial decision to allow Bitmain and Innosilicon ASIC mining rigs to dominate the Sia blockchain. The hardfork to v1.3.6 on October 31st will render these technologies incompatible with Sia mining, leaving the door open for Sia lead developer David Vorick’s own Obelisk miners to make up the hashrate.

A Brief History

The Siacoin community had been split on this issue since the start of the year when a series of unfortunate events befell the Obelisk mining rig project – headed up by Siacoin parent company Nebulous, overseen by Vorick.

The Siacoin community had committed millions in development funds to purchase Obelisk mining rigs for the Siacoin blockchain. The release of the hardware towards the end of 2017 was delayed, and at the same time industry giants Bitmain released their own specialized Siacoin mining rig, effectively undercutting the Obelisk project before it got started.

Controversy then ensued, as the Obelisk mining rigs failed to ship – presumably as a pre-emptive stop-loss given the market domination of the Bitmain technology. The idea arose to brick the Bitmain hardware and only allow Obelisk rigs to run the blockchain – meaning the units could be shipped and their original purchasers could start mining as expected.

Principles at Stake

At this point the community split into two groups – one which demanded the Obelisk mining rigs they had already paid for and a subsequent hardfork to make them viable. And the other which thought that, despite the misfortune regarding the Obelisk miners, the blockchain should ultimately remain open and decentralized – even if it means Bitmain rigs dominated the blockchain.

In January the decision was made to go without a hardfork, and allow the proliferation of ASICS to continue. Now, as of October 1st, the decision has been made to reverse that decision, and kick Bitmain and Innosilicon manufactured miners off the blockchain. Obelisk rigs will now be used to maintain the hashrate, as intended almost a year ago.

Hardfork Reversal

Lead developer, David Vorick, took to the Siacoin Medium blog this morning to deliver this lengthy post on the decision to hardfork. As Vorick wrote:

“After much discussion with the community and an in-depth look into the economics of ASIC manufacturing, the Sia core team has decided to reset the Sia Proof-of-Work function to brick the Bitmain and Innosilicon hardware.”

The post is worth a read, even if only to see the ups and downs of what should have been a simple product launch. The subsequent decision not to hardfork was met with a community exodus, according to Vorick:

“A shadow of pessimism and regret fell over the Sia community. Chatrooms slowed down, discussions shifted towards mining, governance, and arguing over what could have been done differently instead of focusing around the powerful technologies behind the Sia core code. People started to leave…”

An FAQ article was later released to address common questions, and the hardfork is now scheduled for Halloween night, October 31st, 2018. The Siacoin price appears to have responded positively to the news, recording 7.5% gains since the post went live.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Greg Thomson is a freelance writer who contributes to leading cryptocurrency and blockchain publications like CCN, Hacked, and others.