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Beijing-based ASIC chips designer and manufacturer Bitmain has unveiled the new Antminer Z9 Mini, an ASIC miner particularly developed to mine cryptocurrencies running the Equihash proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm.

As the firm announced on its Twitter page on May 3:

“Pleased to announce the Antminer Z9 mini, an ASIC miner to mine #Equihash-based cryptocurrencies. To prevent hoarding and to let more individuals worldwide get one, we’ve set a limit of one miner per user. Order … now while stock lasts!”

Since the advent of ASICs, its introduction has raised heated debates largely due to the increasing centralization of some larger operations which diverge from the very concept of cryptocurrencies as a decentralized system.

As a dominant player in the mining industry, Bitmain has also become the center of accusations, with most critics claiming that the firm is leveraging its influence, given that the company has yet to have a significant competitor to date. As such, Bitmain holds an unfair advantage, should it aim to centralize hash power. Zcash, a cryptocurrency running the Equihash proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm, could potentially end up being limited to only some mining companies like Bitmain.

Furthermore, the introduction of ASIC hardware has already resulted in the modification of several cryptocurrencies’ proof-of-work mining algorithm. As Bitcoin Gold head of operations Martin Kuvandzhiev stated, to ensure that Zcash would resist ASIC mining, a hard fork has been scheduled.

Similarly, Monero has also recently modified its mining algorithm to go against ASIC hardware. As it stands, there is a high probability that Zcash may soon also move to alter its PoW mining algorithm, albeit no such decision has yet been confirmed.

Hours prior to Bitmain’s announcement, Zcash co-founder and CEO Zooko Wilcox stated in a forum post that going against ASIC “would probably become impossible long-term,” though he conceded that GPU mining has proven to be essential in locations such as Venezuela. As Wilcox explained:

“If Venezuelans try to import ASIC miners (i.e. for Bitcoin, currently), then they risk having the miners stolen or extorted by the army which controls all imports.

“I’m basically still in the same place now that I was four years ago when we first decided to go for widespread-distribution-of-coins at the expense of sunk-cost-incentive-alignment. I still think thatwidespread-distribution-of-coins is more important (but I still think it can’t last forever),Wilcox concluded.

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