On 7th June, as a part of Zcash’s official commitment made towards ASIC [Application specific integrated circuits] resistance debate, Zcash Foundation has asked University of Luxembourg researcher Alex Biryukov and Daniel Feher to investigate the presence of ASIC miners in the Zcash and Equihash ecosystems.
On May 8th, 2018 Zcash on their blog [the commitment towards ASIC] said,
“The ASIC resistance question has taken on new urgency now that Bitmain has announced the availability of the AntMiner Z9 mini, an Equihash-focused ASIC that seems tailor-made for Zcash, shipping in late June.”
This explains the need for Zcash to adopt ASIC. This decision was considered after collecting their community feedback and also because they are to believe that the new ASICs are more advanced than they thought and that it can handle different parameters of Equihash.
What is ASIC miner?
Earlier, mining cryptocurrencies was easy, and everybody could do it on their home computers. However, today one needs to have a piece of hardware known as an ASIC miner. Application specific integrated circuits [ASIC] are chips which are designed for a purpose, ranging from audio processing to managing a cellphone call.
Every cryptocurrency has its own cryptographic algorithm and ASIC miners use these algorithms to mine specific currencies. Bitmain is one of the biggest ASIC supplier companies in the world
Equihash was developed by University of Luxembourg’s interdisciplinary Center for security, reliability, and trust. It is a memory-oriented Proof-of-work algorithm. Zcash chose Equihash for ASIC properties, making the network more accessible to small miners who are valuable for providing a market balance to other miners with significantly more capabilities.
Commenting on this the researchers said:
“In the short period of time of this study (2 weeks) we could put an upper bound on the ASIC/FPGA potential presence in Equihash mining ecosystem as of end of May 2018 at 20 – 30% of total mining operations. Most of the mining power (95%) is concentrated in pools so any large hidden ASIC/FPGA operation should be present in one or several of the pools, moreover four pools concentrate 87.5% of the total mining power.”
They further added:
“It is important to note that our current methods can be ‘fooled’ by careful ASIC miner and the methods are also not fine-grained enough to detect ASIC miner testing of few % of the total hash-rate. This is a work for further research.”
Rajer Fedz, a crypto enthusiast, and a Twitter user commented:
“If they are smart enough to make ASICs for Equihash, they are smart enough to work around this. The goal was not ASICs, the goal was ASICs with Stealth Mining.”
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