GPU-mineable cryptos are arguably more decentralized.
Did he simply miss this design aspect or does this sound fishy to you?
Bitcoin Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Bitcoin crypto-currency enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
Bitcoin was not designed to only be mineable with specialized hardware. When Bitcoin was created in 2009, ASIC miners did not exist, SHA256d ASICs did not exist. Even GPU mining software did not exist because mining was a completely new thing. Bitcoin's difficulty was low enough for Bitcoin to be CPU mined on a laptop.
However over time, as more and more people began using and mining Bitcoin, the difficulty increased. Eventually someone figured out how to do GPU mining and wrote software for it, so Bitcoin moved on to GPU mining. Eventually someone figured out how to mine Bitcoin using FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) so Bitcoin moved onto being mined with FPGAs. Eventually someone figured out how to build ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) for mining Bitcoin, so Bitcoin moved onto ASIC mining.
Satoshi did not intend for Bitcoin to be mined with ASICs (or even GPUs or FPGAs); it was meant to be mined on CPUs, but over time, as technology advanced, people figured out better ways to mine.
GPU-mineable cryptos are arguably more decentralized.
Sure, but in a bad way.
Say you want to attack or compromise bitcoin. You have to buy ASICs to do it. You could use GPUs or CPUs, but you would be at a tremendous disadvantage. The honest guys would win.
So you have to invest in all these ASICs to attack bitcoin. And if you succeed, you turn your expensive ASICs into space heaters. That makes it very unlikely that such an attack will be cost-effective. That makes the system more secure.
By contrast, there are computing clusters with large numbers of GPUs. You can rent them by the hour. That means you can attack a digital asset secured by an algorithm that runs efficiently on a GPU without having to invest in it. That makes it less secure.
People can argue about how much of a decentralization difference it makes and whether that matters. But this security difference seems, at least to me, to be much more significantly. Satoshi accidentally got it right.
People who say that GPU mining is more decentralized than ASIC mining forget that GPUs don't descend from the sky. There are companies that manufacture them, and since GPUs are incredibly complex pieces of hardware, the barrier of entry to this market is huge. If a startup company wants to start manufacturing GPUs for mining, it can't.
Right now, cryptocurrency mining is still a relatively small part of the business of companies like AMD and Nvidia. but as it grows, these companies will effectively be the controllers of mining.
Much better, in my opinion, is to have the hash function as simple as possible, so as the market grows, plenty of companies will have the opportunity to compete in manufacturing mining hardware.
That Bitcoin is only mineable on specialised hardware is not itself a design choice. It is a consequence of hinging the integrity of the system on a proof of work, combined with great interest in mining.
The following is an oversimplification, but it's the concepts that are interesting anyway.
The Bitcoin protocol itself does not mandate that mining must be so difficult that it can only be done with specialised hardware. However, the protocol does mandate that a block should be found on average every 10 minutes by the entire population of miners combined. Therefore the Bitcoin protocol has a difficulty parameter which is continually adjusted so that this 10 minutes goal is approximately followed.
As interest in Bitcoin has increased, so has the interest in mining Bitcoins, and so the population and power of miners has grown. Double the population or power of miners, and you halve the average time to find a block - and so the system will adjust by doubling the difficulty. The reward for finding a block is also independent of the number of miners, so doubling the population of miners also means each miner will on average get half as much mining reward per unit of time.
So: As the miner population grows and the difficulty increases, the profit margin for miners shrinks. Eventually mining is only barely profitable with very efficient hardware. This is not directly a design decision, but a necessary consequence of the decentralised design.
I wouldn't be surprised if CPUs were more viable to mine with back in 2009 than graphic cards, in terms of hashpower, hence why he only thought of the CPU.
See for example the top notch graphic cards of 2009, vs the best processors,
Now as time advanced, GPUs became much faster and were able to generate much more hashpower, but by that time Bitcoin was already running SHA-256.
Your question lacks historical sense.
When Satoshi Nakamoto considered Bitcoin, he had lots of very difficult problems to solve. For instance, the problem of distributed authentication, a problem that was never solved before. You should recall that there was no peer-to-peer electronic cash system before Bitcoin.
So, some of the current problems with Bitcoin could not be foretold, even by geniuses like the creator (or creators) of Bitcoin. It became such a huge phenomenon never seen before.
In any case, it is unfair to state that Bitcoin is not decentralized, since it is mined in many parts of the world, by many companies; it is still peer-to-peer. It is only concentrated, meaning that only large company pools can mine it efficiently.