The Ethereum Foundation, in collaboration with Filecoin, a blockchain data storage network, is funding efforts to create specialized hardware that will be used to achieve consensus in Ethereum’s proposed code upgrade.
Announced by Ethereum Foundation researcher Justin Drake in DevCon 4, this year’s annual gathering of Ethereum developers in Prague, the specialized hardware will be application specific (i.e., ASICs) and will be built to support the ‘beacon chain’ code upgrade coming up next year. Justin unveiled some of the preliminary designs for the proposed ASIC hardware.
Beacon chain is a proposed scalability solution for Ethereum that uses the Proof of Stake consensus mechanism as opposed to the current Proof of Work. The move from PoW to PoS is meant to be one of the most anticipated of any blockchain project
Ethereum is the second largest blockchain network after Bitcoin by market capitalization and is the leading decentralized applications (dApps) platform. A lot of the current blockchain projects are based on this platform and therefore there is a lot of anticipation behind this upcoming hard fork.
The beacon chain works by generating random numbers and this exercise will make it easier to shuffle the chosen validators when the network moves to Proof of Stake. The proposed hardware is a different kind of iteration to the usual ASIC machines. The current ASICs are used to help mine coins while the proposed ASICs will be used in choosing validators through an operation called Verifiable Delay Function.
Justin also gave a rough estimate for the whole operation. The project is proposed to cost as much as $20 million to $30 million of which at least half of it will be put into research and development and about $5 million put into the development of an estimated 5,000 machines.
In addition to this cost, both the Ethereum Foundation and Filecoin will be splitting the costs involved in research and development equitably. However, their contributions will be reduced if other companies will be willing to participate in the venture.