Image Source: Bitmain
ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit) are customized for a specific use and, generally speaking, are more efficient at mining certain types of cryptocurrencies than processors or GPUs (see our extensive GPU mining guide right here). According to Bitmain, the Antminer E3 has a hash rate of 180MH/s for Ethash, at 800W. That is about seven to eight times better than a GeForce GTX 1080 GPU. Maybe more—Bitmain claims the numbers are conservative and could improve by the time the ASIC ships in July.
"These are the conservative estimates. We expect the miners to deliver higher performance and efficiency when they are ready to ship," Bitmain says.
The development of an ASIC for Ethash has been rumored for quite some time now, and was referenced by Susquehanna analyst Christopher Rolland in a CNBC report last week. Rolland downgraded his forecast on AMD stock base an Ethereum ASIC ultimately reducing demand for GPUs.
How things ultimately play out remains to be seen. The Antiminer E3 costs $800. At that price, weighed with the specs, it's a better proposition than mining with GPUs, but doesn't blow them out of the water. Still, we expect the unit to be popular, especially considering the demand for Bitmain's Bitcoin ASIC.
The other thing to consider is that Ethereum could undergo a hard fork to an algorithm that is resistant to ASICs. If that happens, we could be right back in the same spot, in terms of there being a shortage of graphics cards for gaming. Here's crossing our fingers that it goes the other way.
You can check out the Antminer E3 page here.