The War on ASIC Resistant Continues as Zcash Mining Study Underway
ASIC Miners Amount To 30% Of The Equihash Mining Hashrate, University of Luxembourg Study Finds
Recently, Zcash Foundation and researchers from the University of Luxembourg have released a study that finds the presence of ASIC and FPGA miners may be controlling around 30 percent of the overall Equihash mining hashrate. This study is sending shockwaves across cryptocurrency developers and communities who have attempted to produce proof-of-work mechanisms that were meant to provide ASIC proof.
Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) has been the subject of debate for the past year. The conversations have revolved around digital currency networks that have been threatened and even maliciously attacked to the point that coins are allowed to be double spent, defeating the objective of blockchain. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Gold, Monacoin, and Verge have seen significant attacks on their networks and millions have been stolen or double spent by hackers.
Taking the example of Bitcoin Gold, they used Equihash algorithm modeled after the Zcash network. On May 23 someone took over more than 51 percent of the BTG hashrate and was able to double spend over $18Mn USD worth of BTG. This event sparked a study by the Zcash Foundation and the University of Luxembourg.
In just a couple of weeks, the team put an upper bound on the ASIC/FPGA potential presence in Equihash mining ecosystem as of the end of May 2018 at 20 – 30% of total mining operations. Researchers Alex Biryukov and Daniel Feher said, “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.”
Zcash’s Effort Towards ASIC Resistance
“ASIC resistance as an option while simultaneously researching ASIC resistance.” Alex Biryukov and Daniel Feher detail that ASIC miners are present within the network hashrate of coins that utilize the Equihash algorithm, and have presented their estimates specifically for the Zcash Foundation. Even though there is a lot of effort being put into ASIC mining resistance, the research team concludes that the study needs further research, and detecting ASIC miners is not so easy and data can be manipulated.