The Ethereum Cat Herders today announced the release of the hardware and software audits for ProgPoW, Ethereum’s controversial Proof-of-Stake algorithm. The audits found that ProgPoW was effective, but it could become obsolete as technology advances.
The Programmatic Proof of Work algorithm, better known as ProgPoW, would make Ethereum more resistant to ASIC miners, powerful computers that are designed purely to process hashes (the main method for mining new Ethereum blocks).
According to Ethereum’s proposal, ProgPoW would “close the efficiency gap available to specialized ASICs” by making better use of standard GPUs—a piece of hardware found in your average computer used to process graphics.
To some degree, this would make the network more secure since the hashrate would be more evenly distributed between miners around the world—making it harder for them to gang up and orchestrate a 51 percent attack. On the other hand, by removing large mining operations, it would reduce the network’s hashrate, making it cheaper to attack.
ProgPoW is slated for release early next year, but Ethereum has been waiting on the Herders’ technical audit to allay concerns around the implementation of ProgPoW, its security, and its effect on the network.
The Ethereum Cat Herders is a group of independent contributors who support Ethereum developer teams through tasks including coordinating Hard Forks, taking notes during All Core Devs calls, and monitoring Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs). The Herders are funded by Bitfly and the Ethereum Foundation.
The audit of the algorithm found that the code was accurate and reasonably effective at reducing the advantage given to specialized miners. But the audit raised concerns that “future hardware advancements may potentially jeopardize this status”.
The audit added that the math has “not yet been fully proven for the longer term, especially considering the fast advancements in the hardware industry”. So, though the code works now, the approach might be “insufficient or become obsolete over time.”
The audit of the hardware also found that while ProgPoW does remove ASIC miners from the network, it may not last for long. As computer chips become more sophisticated, ASIC miners might be able to bypass the system and start mining Ethereum again.
Despite concerns about the future, the audit’s good news for Ethereum, and, if there are no further issues, it could be full-steam-ahead for ProgPoW’s inclusion in the second update for Ethereum’s “Istanbul” upgrade due to take place in the first quarter of 2020.
Ethereum’s community is generally in favor of ProgPoW, according to a March report by The Ethereum Cat Herders. Out of coin holders, 94 percent were in favor of ProgPoW; in a miner vote, meanwhile, 100 percent were in favor of it. Perhaps the Ethereum community is coming together, after all.