Privacy-centric cryptocurrency Monero has declared war on ASIC manufacturers.
On Sunday, a group of Monero developers published a development update addressing what has become a recurring question among altcoins that can currently be mined profitably with GPU hardware — how to respond to the threat that Bitmain or another mining rig manufacturer will develop an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miner built to mine Cryptonight, which is XMR’s Proof of Work (PoW) hashing algorithm.
Monero’s response? — a preemptive strike.
Moving forward, developers will seek to protect the network’s ASIC resistance by slightly modifying its PoW algorithm at every scheduled hard fork, which generally occurs twice annually. These changes will not be noticeable to ordinary XMR users, but they will alter the network’s hashing algorithm enough that Cryptonight ASIC miners would become obsolete following every fork.
But in case these planned PoW adjustments are not enough to disincentivize the development of ASIC miners for Cryptonight, Monero will “perform an emergency hard fork to curb any potential threat from ASICs.”
This proactive stance, developers said, will ensure that Monero mining remains relatively egalitarian and consequently, decentralized — at least until such time the same can be said of the ASIC mining industry.
“ASICs may be an inevitable development for any Proof of Work,” said the post, which was attributed to dEBRYUNE, dnaleor, and the Monero project, “but we feel that any transition to an ASIC-dominated network needs to be as egalitarian as possible in order to foster decentralization. At this point in time, we suspect that any newly developed Cryptonight ASIC will not be egalitarian and will not foster a decentralized network.”
The authors warned that because the ASIC market is currently dominated by a small group of manufacturers — primarily Chinese giant Bitmain — it would be relatively simple for governments to force these companies to build “kill switches” into the miners or only sell rigs to customers who obtain special government licenses.
GPU miners, on the other hand, rely on general-purpose computer chips, making it infeasible for regulators to attempt to force miners to acquire government-issued licenses.
The first PoW adjustment will be implemented at the network’s next hard fork, which is currently scheduled for March.
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