Today core developers for Sia, a decentralized data storage protocol, announced that they have decided to implement a hard fork that completely resets Sia's proof-of-work algorithm. The change will render mining hardware from firms outside the project obsolete.
A little bit of history
In mid-2017, Sia's lead developer David Vorick announced that the for-profit parent company behind Sia (Nebulous), was launching a subsidiary called Obelisk to manufacturer ASICs for Sia. Members of the Sia community contributed millions of dollars to fund this effort by pre-ordering miners based on the upcoming chips.
At around the same time, two ASIC manufacturers, Bitmain and Innosilicon, also began development for Sia ASICs. In January 2018, mining giants Bitmain announced that their Sia ASICs were ready for shipping. In April 2018, Innosilicon followed with the release of the INNOSILICON S11 SiaMaster, which to this day is the most effective Sia miner in the world. The release of these two products caused an uproar in the Sia community, with many arguing for a hard fork of the code to prevent mining monopolization by Bitmain. However, some members of the community vocally opposed the hard fork, citing developer centralization as a factor. The Sia core developers ultimately decided against modifying the protocol. The calm was short lived and in August 2018 Sia core developers renewed efforts to hard fork Bitmain off the protocol.
Hard fork announcement
Then today, October 1, 2018, Vorick announced in a blog post that the core developers would implement a hard fork and make all Innosilicon and Bitmain miners obsolete. The hard fork will go active on October 31, 2018. While the change will brick Innosilicon and Bitmain miners, Obelisk equipment will be allowed to mine on Sia – effectively granting Obelisk the ASIC monopoly for the protocol. Vorick cites the dominance of Innosilicon, which controls 37.5% of Sia's mining hash rate, and the pessimism of the Sia community after the Bitmain announcement, as the reasons for this hard fork.
In a Reddit post on the Siacoin subreddit, early reactions from community members appear to be supportive. However, prominent cryptocurrency researcher and commentator Matt Odell believes that bricking hardware by mining manufacturers will discourage mining investments for Sia and will "result is a centralized, insecure network."
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