The world of proof of work mining is dominated by the specialized mining equipment known as ASIC mining, short for application specific integrated circuits.
While coins such as Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), and Dash (DASH) have embraced the relatively new class of miners, one privacy coin is battling the miners through constant non-contentious hard forks on its chain. Monero (XMR), one of the most popular privacy coins in the market, announced the latest ASIC resistance upgrade on its platform – RandomX.
The RandomX Algorithm Update
The announcement released on the Monero Outreach Organization blog page states that RandomX is a new proof of work (PoW) consensus algorithm that is set to launch with the upcoming Monero blockchain update. If approved, the algorithm will upgrade the current Cryptonight algorithm in a bid to keep the mining process from automated equipment.
Bitcoin’s mining pools are heavily centered in China, with over 75% of the mining rigs in the country. This has led to community members claiming that the pioneer cryptocurrency is not fully decentralized. Some go as far as to claim Bitcoin is generally controlled by the Chinese government.
Such claims have led to Monero development team and community to create ASIC resistant mining algorithms in a bid to promote decentralization. The team created the RandomX algorithm that makes it more efficient to mine on CPUs/GPUs than ASIC miners. RandomX is designed to be ASIC resistant by using random code execution and memory-hard techniques to prevent specialized mining hardware from dominating the network
The focus on efficient CPU and GPU mining over the ASIC miners creates a more decentralized mining community and promotes the egalitarian distribution of block rewards to miners. Furthermore, botnets and malware in the system will be easily noticed by administrators as the memory consumption in the system is set to be visible. The reduction in the hash rate in the network will also increase the amount of block rewards available to the miners whether they are using a GPU or CPU mining device.
Binance Research’s report on the latest hard fork on Monero stated the impact of cracking down on ASIC may leave the network vulnerable to a 51% attack as the hash rate drops. The development team at NVidia (CUDA) is, however, improving the overall hash rate of CPU’s (not GPUs) to increases of about 100% to 150% as the optimization levels improve.
The Specifications Of The RandomX Algorithm
The algorithm is set to be released in two different versions – the Light mode and the Fast mode. The Light mode requires 256 MB of RAM to mine XMR with the specifications and features designed to allow full nodes to validate blocks on small computers and devices.
The Fast mode on the other hand, is specialized for full-time miners and has a performance capability of 4x-6x of the Light mode. It requires 2GB RAM to run the node.
Specifications of the CPU/GPU algorithms (Cryptonight, RandomX Fast and Light modes) Source: Monero Outreach
All that remains on the RandomX algorithm is the auditing process that is expected to make sure the algorithm is resistant to Sybil attacks and functional for use. After completing the first three rounds of audit on the algorithm, the community is still debating on the fourth audit, if it should happen or not.