Following a great deal of speculation, there is finally clarity: There is an ASIC miner for Ethereum (and all Ethash cryptocurrencies). Bitmain sent an email to existing customers and those on it’s mailing list announcing the Antminer E3 Ethash ASIC. So, what does this mean for Ethereum and Ethash miners?

Bitmain Antminer E3 - Ethash - Ethereum ASIC

Bitmain Antminer E3 – Ethash/Ethereum ASIC

Bitmain’s Antminer E3 Specifications

Manufacturer Bitmain
Model E3
ASIC Undisclosed
Algorithm Ethash
Cryptocurrencies ETH, ETC, EXP (and many more)
Hash Rate 180 MH/s *
AC Power 800 W
DC Power 800 W
Operation Temperature 0-40 ℃
Noise Undisclosed
Dimensions Undisclosed

* Bitmain’s ordering page for the E3 stated that 180 MH/s is a preliminary expectation and that they are expecting the shipped E3’s to provide more hashing power.

While the dimensions were undisclosed, the E3 is the same form factor as Bitmain’s other Antminers although it is double the height of it’s predecessors. On each end there are two, as opposed to one, fans.

if GPU prices return to MSRP-levels and you focus your mining on algorithms beyond Ethash, this might be a good thing for your mining operation.

Antminer E3 compared to GPU Ethash miners

While production units aren’t in use by the general public, the stated specifications on the E3 look good. An equivalent GPU miner achieving 180 MH/s would be a 6 GPU mining rig running Nvidia GTX 1070s. Considering the retail price of a single GTX 1070 is currently $500, a 6 GPU miner would run $3,000 for the GPUs alone. Add on a power supply, motherboard, CPU and RAM and the price for a comparable GPU solution would run at least $3,200. That’s 4x the price of the E3.

As far as power consumption goes, a 6 GPU mining rig running at 180 Mh/s would likely use a bit more than the 800 watts of power the E3 claims.

Of course, that all assumes building a rig running GeForce 1070s. You can still build an Ethereum mining rig with Nvidia GeForce 1060s, even 3GB 1060s.

What cryptocurrencies will the Antminer E3 be able to mine?

The Antminer E3 should be able to mine any Ethash-based cryptocurrency, not just Ethereum. Popular Ethash coins include:

Isn’t Ethereum (and Ethash) supposed to be ASIC-resistant?

Yes, it is. Consider the word ‘resistant.’ Resistant does not mean that it is impossible to create an ASIC miner. It means that it is difficult and likely cost-prohibitive.

Apparently Bitmain has found a way to create a cost-effective Ethash ASIC.

What will happen to Ethereum and Ethash cryptocurrency prices?

Ethereum’s price isn’t directly influenced by the activity of mining. The underlying math behind Ethereum releases ether at a given rate. The repercussion to expect is profitability for Ethash miners. Assuming the E3 ships on time, we can expect a flood of hashing power be focused on Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and other Ethash cryptocurrencies. Increased competition for the same coins means increased difficulty and lower yield.

The only thing that can offset increased difficulty and lowered yield is higher valuation for Ethereum (or any other Ethash coin).

Will GPU prices decrease because of the E3?

There is a good chance that yes, they will. If one is interested specifically in mining the cryptocurrencies the E3 can mine, it makes little sense to spend three or four times as much money to build a GPU miner. Decreased demand should yield decreased GPU prices.

Watch GTX 1070, GTX 1070 Ti, GTX 1060 and all AMD card prices

If GPUs are to be effected by the E3’s release, we’d expect that AMD cards would be the first to reduce dramatically. AMD cards like the RX 570 and RX 580, when modified, are capable Ethash miners. They aren’t great at most any other cryptocurrency when compared with the flexibility of Nvidia’s GPUs. Speaking of Nvidia, if Nvidia GPU prices come down we’d expect it to be first seen in the GTX 1070 and GTX 1070 Ti as well as the GTX 1060.

So, is the Antminer E3 a game changer?

Yes, it is. The Antminer E3 is a game changer in a few ways.

First, the E3 introduces a far cheaper method of mining Ethash cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum. The most dramatic cost-savings from the E3 are in it’s price. Being able to mine Ethash at 180 MH/s with a $900 miner (Antminer power supplies generally runs $105) is dramatically cheaper alternative to building a $3,000+ GPU miner (at current hardware prices). Insofar as long-term operating costs, the E3’s consumption of electricity is on par for what a purpose-built 180 MH/s GPU miner would consume. And, Bitmain is known to produce good quality, long-lasting hardware.

Second, by becoming a most cost-effective mining solution GPU prices should come down dramatically. While we’re not expecting a GPU sell-off, except for the most timid of miners, the demand for GPUs to mine Ethash will decrease immensely. And, Ethereum is one of the more popular coins that GPU miners focus on. We expect GPU prices to return to near-MSRP levels, and possibly even beneath them. And, who knows, maybe there will be a 1070 sell-off for used GPUs, too.

Finally, the E3 completes a run by Bitmain manufacturing that establishes a pattern of disruption of the GPU-miner market. Bitmain has successfully (assuming the E3 meets expectations) disrupted mining hardware for not only Blake 2b (Siacoin), CryptoNight and now Ethash within a few months. One has to wonder which cryptocurrency will be next.

Is GPU mining dead?

No, it’s not dead. If you have a GPU mining rig that you’ve paid off from mining, there’s no reason to stop using it. The E3 is a game changer from the perspective that it will make mining Ethereum and other Ethash-based cryptocurrencies cheaper. That’s a benefit to new entrants or those looking to expand their mining operations.

Speaking of Ethereum specifically, there is still the reality that at some point Ethereum will switch from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) cryptocurrency. This fundamental change, that renders mining with hashing power unprofitable, has been a part of Ethereum since it’s inception. No one knows for sure when this will happen although many speculate it will be in early 2019 if not in 2018.

Finally, GPU miners, especially Nvidia-based GPU miners, can shift to other cryptocurrencies if Ethereum and other Ethash-based coins are no longer offering the profitably that makes sense. And, although unclear at this time, if GPU prices return to MSRP-levels and you focus your mining on algorithms beyond Ethash, this might be a good thing for your mining operation.

Should you buy an Antminer E3?

That’s up to you. If you’ve done all your homework and think that mining Ethereum and other Ethash-based cryptocurrencies will continue to be profitable through 2018 and/or beyond, then it’s worthy of consideration.

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