There’ve been a lot of powerful new mining rigs being brought to fruition as of late, like the much-hyped Dragonmint ASIC that we here at CoinBureau covered not long ago. Next in line is Bitmain’s AntMiner A3.
The A3 is already causing controversy in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as some are excited for the new rig while others are viewing it as a threat.
We’ll break down the situation briefly to give you an idea for whether the A3 is worth the investment or not.
First off, what is the A3
For miners looking to diversify their operations, the A3 could be an interesting option as the device is designed to mine Siacoin (SC), not bitcoins.
The launch of the A3 was unexpected, and the move by Bitmain seems clearly aimed at undercutting the upcoming Obelisk SC1 Siacoin miner.
Here are some basic specs:
Hash ASIC type: BM1720
Hashing algorithm: Blake(2b)
Number of hash chips: 180
Hash boards per miner: 3
Hash rate: 815GH
One A3 costs approximately $3000 USD at press time, with Bitmain promising to ship rigs out ten days after receiving payment. And mining pool AntPool has wasted no time in declaring they will support Siacoin mining on the heels of the A3’s launch.
Worth it for miners?
Bitcoin is the OG in the cryptocurrency space by a long shot, so bitcoin mining has become a bit synonymous with “cryptocurrency mining” in general. It’s not that there aren’t loads of other interesting coins to mine in the ecosystem, it’s just that none of them have the first-mover network advantage that Bitcoin does.
So, in buying an A3, you have to factor in that you’re taking a gamble on a coin that is much smaller than Bitcoin both in terms of its community and its market capitalization.
Now, this isn’t some end-all be-all conclusion. Siacoin is one of the more interesting projects in the top 100 cryptocurrencies. But still, Bitcoin is the king of big-cap coin, and its entrenched position is going to likely keep these dynamic in place for the foreseeable future.
That means that all the new money that enters into the cryptocurrency arena is first going to have to filter through bitcoin. And then, of course, a great deal of that money will likely stay in bitcoin over time.
This dynamic makes it so it’s a far surer bet that the bitcoin price will rise and perform consistently. With Siacoin, there are far more variables in place, making a mining operation based on SC far more risky.
Even barring the risk of mining a smaller coin like SC, the A3 may be more trouble than it’s worth. On the Sia discord, one of the devs noted:
We prepared for something like this by adding an extra feature to the SC1. We can do a soft-fork that slightly changes the PoW algorithm which would invalidate the Bitmain ASICs, but allow the SC1 units to continue working. In the event of an attack from Bitmain, we can activate this soft fork.”
So, if anything, perhaps watch how the Sia community reacts going forward. If there’s growing chatter about a fork to invalidate the A3, that could be a big problem.