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ProgPoW: What is it and why does it matter?

ProgPoW: What is it and why does it matter?

The Ethereum community is buzzing with the word ProgPoW. But if you’re anything like me, you may not know exactly what it means. The term stands for Programmatic Proof-of-Work, a new proof-of-work algorithm designed to even the playing field between ASIC and GPU miners.


Proponents of this new approach want to actively retune Ethereum’s mining algorithm to best fit consumer-grade GPUs. Every 50 blocks, the proposed mining algorithm randomly adjusts itself, which makes development of effective ASIC miners difficult. While companies could still design ASICs, ProgPoW would reduce their efficiency over GPUs to less than 20%.

Where did ProgPoW come from?

Although you may only be hearing about his issue now, the initial proposal (EIP-1057) was submitted by the IfDefElse team in May 2018. Many of you likely first heard about about the proposal during the discussions around Ethereum’s issuance reduction last fall. During these discussions, GPU miners suggested the implementation of ProgPoW as a conciliation for reducing the block rewards.

Why is everyone talking about it now?

In a recent meeting, the Ethereum Core Developers reached a tentative decision to review ProgPoW for a future update. The Ethereum Cat Herders are gauging community support for the change and seeking an independent party to perform an audit on the code. The Cat Herders have selected Least Authority, who previously audited Ethereum before its launch, to perform the audit. They are seeking funding for the audit from a variety of sources including Ethereum organizations, miners, and the community via a Gitcoin grant.

Does Ethereum need this change?

As you’ve surely seen on social media, this question remains the topic of hot debates in the community. Some push for implementing ProgPow as soon as possible, arguing that ASICs threaten Ethereum’s decentralization. However, others doubt the threat of ASICs and believe that “fixing something that isn’t broken” may backfire.

What do you think?

Whichever side you fall on, learning about and discussing the potential effects of the proposed algorithm switch can’t hurt. If everything goes well, Ethereum might benefit from having ProgPoW ready just in case. Do you think ProgPoW should replace Ethash? Do you consider ASICs an imminent threat?

Come let your opinion be known in the Concourse Open Community Discord or talk to us on Twitter!