Monero, the crypto market’s leading privacy coin, is apparently closing in on a new fork that will help the coin achieve resistance against specially-designed ASIC mining devices. According to a recent Reddit post, the update will occur in just four weeks. What changes will the fork bring, and can Monero beat ASICs for good?
Over the past year, Monero has made its opposition to ASIC devices clear. Since ASICs are built to be very efficient when mining a particular coin or algorithm, they can quickly dominate the mining hashrate and increase the risk of a 51% attack. Currently, more than 85% of the Monero hashrate is being controlled by ASICs.
To lessen this problem, Monero performs an anti-ASIC fork at least twice per year. The coin’s first anti-ASIC fork occurred in early 2018, followed by another fork in October 2018, both of which slashed hashrates and put CPU and GPU miners back in the game. Now, the March fork will do the same again, according to one user:
“The [algorithm] will effectively be bricking the existing ASICs and a more long-term solution is coming up for October hardfork. It should hold for years from what I’ve been told.”
Until now, this has been an arms race: ASIC manufacturers release new devices designed to mine Monero, and Monero changes its mining algorithm as new ASICs arrive on the market. However, FPGAs, or programmble ASICs, are increasingly becoming an issue, as they can remain efficient for longer by adapting to new changes.
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Some forks also contain other features and updates: notably, Monero’s previous October update introduced bulletproofs, which drove down transaction costs and enhanced transaction speed. Various forks have also introduced split coins. This upcoming fork will probably not introduce any new features or split coins, and it will seemingly be enacted in addition to Monero’s usual updates:
“Apparently this will be forked with the current 0.13 code, so very few. A couple default payment ID changes, new adaptive block size algorithm, new notifications, and the new mining algorithm. I don’t know when the 0.14 code will be used.”
This fork will probably go smoothly, and the only noticeable result should be a lower overall hashrate as ASIC miners leave the network. There is plenty of room for improvement: WhatToMine currently indicates that Monero mining actually costs $0.59 per day under certain conditions. With any luck, this update could make the coin profitable for many miners once again.