Eth devs are apparently going around shopping for an asics for the beacon chain which coordinates eth shards and Proof of Stake (PoS) validators.
An apparent eth dev says he is “researching exotic semiconductors for a digital ASIC with a few million logic gates which should run as fast as possible within a $30 million budget.” He further adds:
“The ASIC will be developed for an open-source project (namely, Ethereum). The ASIC will itself have an open-source circuit design.”
It appears ethereum’s beacon chain will use Verifiable Delay Functions (VDFs), which Vitalik Buterin, ethereum’s inventor, describes as “a strategy for getting entropy for validator.” That being a way to achieve randomness.
As you recall, ethereum’s beacon chain is a sort of co-ordinator which basically says you go here, you go there, you do this and so on. It is basically a manager of sort, but all code of course, telling stakers and validators what shard to go to and so on.
These orders need to be random so that no one knows where they going or what they’re going to do as otherwise the design can be played. Getting true randomness, however, is pretty hard.
One method is VDFs which Justin Drake, an eth dev, says in a presentation they have a number of advantages over other methods.
Yet there is one problem. Someone could spare no expense to build a brilliant asics which can compute the VDF a lot faster than any CPU or GPU, with the no-expense-spared attacker then able to cause havoc.
To counteract this attack, a scheme has been proposed whereby an asics does the computations, presents the hash, other asics verify it, and then it’s all sent to nodes who don’t have to bother much with all of that.
Drake says in an update that the “ASIC looks like it will require on the order of 10W. More in the range of a graphics card, instead of just simply a USB stick.”
He further says he is confident on the crypto-economics and “confident on instantiating a praticular one.” So they’re now going around shopping for a VDF asics with up to $30 million up for grabs for whoever can design it.