In an interview, Vitalik Buterin, the head behind Ethereum, talked about, among other things, the current distribution of Ethereum’s mining performance. 70 percent of the hardware was “from a hardware manufacturer” – AMD should be meant. Five to ten farm operators are to mine the largest proportion of ETH Zurich. The upcoming Casper update with proof-of-stake approach will make potential attacks more difficult.
AMD’s Polaris-10 or -20-based graphics cards were difficult, if not impossible, to get for end users over much of last year. The prices for the Radeon RX 480, RX 470 and later the RX 580 and RX 570 shot up as miners have bought up the entire stock. In the spring of 2017 began the hype surrounding the crypto-currency Ethereum, which broke out completely in summer at the latest. In light of the developments, it is easy to assume that most of the ETH coins will be mined with AMD hardware.
Reliable statistics are difficult to find publicly. Vitalik Buterin recently gave a guideline in an interview with the youtube channel of cigionline.org (from 4:05 in the embedded video). Buterin is the founder of the Ethereum platform and thus has a deep insight into the processes. According to him, about 70 percent of the hardware used to mine Ethereum came from “a hardware manufacturer.” Since Nvidia’s Pascal GeForce graphics cards are mainly used in the private sector for mining, AMD should be meant. China is said to be 70 percent of the mining power, with five to ten “people” – in the sense of mining farm operators – made up most of the power. These can also be providers that sell mining capacity for a fee.
Currently Ethereum is still on a proof of work (PoW) concept, in which the pure computing power decides on the continuation of the blockchain. So-called 51-percent attacks, in which attackers influence the blockchain with at least 51 percent of the total computing power, are repeatedly possible with the PoW. With the Casper update, Ethereum will switch to a hybrid of PoW and PoS (Proof of Stake): 99 blocks will be mined as usual and validated by examiners every 100th. The so-called “validators” have to deposit ETH voting rights (the “stake”) – the larger the amount, the higher the weighting. While the PoW relies on a pure reward system (the distribution of ETH), the Casper update will allow for punishments. The algorithm detects malicious attacks on the blockchain. The PoS validations make it easier to undo and exclude attackers, including their nodes. These would therefore have to buy new nodes for each attack, which is hardly financially worthwhile. The power of the few major miners should be reduced.