As Ethereum’s shift to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) security is still in the works, its blockchain relies on the Ethash Proof-of-Work (PoW) mining algorithm. But, per the Ethereum Core developer call on April 26th, funding has now been secured to audit the ProgPoW code — an algorithm that is expressly resistant to extremely efficient ASIC miners.
If that audit comes back clean, ProgPOW is set to be enacted to secure the ETH 1.0 chain in the interim as the ETH 2.0 “Serenity” upgrade — which will activate a scaling triumvirate of sharding, Casper, and Plasma — remains in progress.
The proposed algorithm change, which became a fairly contentious topic in the Ethereum community earlier this year, is set to tilt in favor of decentralization via GPU mining, which is easier and cheaper to do in general compared to ASICs that tend to be centralized in massive mining farms.
Initially, it hadn’t been clear how a ProgPoW audit was going to be paid for among the ecosystem at-large. Ethereum Foundation manager Jameson Hudson noted in the latest dev call that enough funding had finally been accrued to pay the selected auditors, the German firm Least Authority:
“The ProgPow audit is going to be funded. Everyone has confirmed their funding. It should be started this week or next week hopefully. There’s just some logistics to work out, meaning people have to sign some paperwork and the funds have to be sent.”
Hudson later added that the audit was expected to be completed this summer, at which point Ethereum’s various stakeholders can move toward a final conclusion on the proposed algorithm shift.
As Ethereum Core Developer and Ethereum Name Service lead Nick Johnson argued earlier this year, ProgPoW is designed to help keep Ethereum decentralized:
“Ethereum originally had a goal of egalitarianism in mining; anyone should be able to participate, using hardware they may already have. Regional power prices and economies of scale have put a dent in that, but giving up on ASIC resistance would kill it for good.”
Earlier Commotion Over “Unaudited” ProgPoW
Last month, SpankChain CEO Ameen Soleimani contested the possibility raised in Ethereum Dev Call #58 of implementing ProgPoW on Ethereum without a full audit.
In a discussion on the Ethereum Magicians’ forum, Soleimani accordingly said:
“I understand that many people want to just get this over with, as @gcolvin [Greg Colvin] said on the call. But I don’t think it will ever make sense to switch to an un-audited hashing algorithm for a $10B+ network.”
Conversely, others like the aforementioned Nick Johnson have argued that the calls for further auditing of ProgPoW have been misplaced:
“I honestly think the ProgPoW audit is probably a waste of time. The algorithm has already been thoroughly vetted by many parties; an audit is unlikely to tell us anything we don’t already know. Those demanding an audit do so because it’s an easy barrier to erect.”
Yet as the debate has progressed, a full audit of the algorithm has won out. In the mean time, Least Authority will get to work in determining if the project’s code has any major coding deficiencies.
Ethereum Staking Coming Into Focus
This month, Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin proposed increasing ETH 2.0 staking rewards.
If that proposal is carried out, Ethereum researcher Justin Drake estimated that future ETH validators would receive around 3.2 percent returns annually if approximately 32 million ether were staked.
Of course, there’s a chance that more than 32 million ether will eventually be staked — the Ethereum network will be more secure in correlation with the amount of ETH staked in specialized wallets.
So, while it’s not yet exactly clear what ETH 2.0 validators can expect to generate in revenue, their profit prospects have become a bit brighter.