The much-awaited Ethereum E3 ASIC miner was released by Bitmain on April 3, with a $800 price tag for its first batch, leading to speculation that the product could help reduce the price of GPUs worldwide. The low price tag didn't last, however, as the miner is priced at $1800 for its second batch.
Chinese buyers were unable to purchase the miner directly, although delivery to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan is available for the second batch it wouldn't be difficult to have the miner forwarded to mainland China after purchase.
While delivery restrictions are being partially lifted, the E3 has an additional $1000 in its price tag. This second batch also increases order limits - initially only one unit per customer was available, but Bitmain increased the max order to 5 units for batch 2.
Bitmain announced the changes to the second batch of Antminer E3s in the following email sent to subscribers.
The use of ASIC miners is a controversial issue, with the formation of centralized mining pools controlling the token supply being a primary concern. While the Antminer has already had a very successful launch with many customers eager to get in on the action, the Ethereum community has entertained the possibility of a hard fork to block the use of ASIC mining altogether, in order to preserve a relatively decentralized Ethereum economy, making it less vulnerable to manipulation.
While Monero recently hard-forked to eliminate ASIC mining, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has spoken out against this option due to the potential disharmony it would bring to the network by requiring all nodes, wallets, and other infrastructure to upgrade, slowing things down and taking the focus away from more important issues.
Buterin's public reluctance to fork the network is perhaps a factor in the sudden change in price and restrictions for the second batch of miners, which are currently available for pre-order and will not be delivered until July, meaning Bitmain customers risk the network forking between purchase and delivery.
It remains to be seen if the Antminer will take over the Ethereum mining world, but either way the highly anticipated product is sure to have a major effect on the Ethereum platform and community in the coming months.