Touted as ASIC resistant, Monero plans an emergency hard fork due to a threat of ASIC mining manufacturers building CryptoNight hashing algorithm machines. In the last few days Bitmain, Halong Mining and Baikal have announced CryptoNight FPGA/ASIC miners.
In February of this year, in response to potential threats of new types of ASIC mining that would be able to mine Monero, the privacy-centered cryptocurrency wrote on their blog about their “intention to maintain ASIC resistance by swiftly reacting to any potential threat from ASICs and considering slightly modifying the PoW at every hardfork”:
“We strongly believe that it's beneficial to preserve our ASIC resistance. Therefore, we will perform an emergency hard fork to curb any potential threat from ASICs if needed. Furthermore, in order to maintain its goal of decentralization and to provide a deterrent for ASIC development and to protect against unknown or undetectable ASIC development, the Monero team proposes modifying the Cryptonight PoW hash every scheduled fork, twice a year.”
Bitmain was the most recent company to list a CryptoNight miner, the Antminer X3 which is designed to mine the CryptoNight hashing algorithm used by Monero (XMR). However, the miner may not be effective by its first release in May 2018, according to an article by The Next Web published yesterday, March 16.
The new Antminer, announced on Bitmain’s Twitter on March 15, comes at two price points: $11,999 for the first round in delivered May, and $7,599 for the second datch, delivered in June. Bitmain is also offering two additional batches that ship after the first two batches, but only to addresses in Hong Kong. The two new batches are priced at $3,000 for shipping after batch 1 and $1,900 for shipping after batch 2.
However, the project lead at Monero, Riccardo Spagni, linked to Bitmain’s Twitter announcement in his own tweet, stating that their new miner will “NOT WORK [sic]” for mining Monero:
Just a reminder that this WILL NOT work on Monero https://t.co/rhy6k2I4Yh
— Riccardo Spagni (@fluffypony) March 15, 2018
He also retweeted this from another Twitter follower:
PSA: @HalongMining is releasing an ASIC miner for CryptoNight Algo aka #Monero $XMR that has a high probability of not working after it ships because Monero has a planned hardfork to change its PoW this month. @monerocurrency @notsofast pic.twitter.com/lgXocUgczT
— ty13r (@_ty13r) March 17, 2018
It is evident Monero plans to remain ASIC resistant and apparently following Spagni’s response, the sales pages for the two Hong-Kong bound Antminer X3 batches were updated to contain the following notice in the product description:
“One major cryptocurrency which is using CryptoNight hash function is about to change their PoW algothrim, and according to their public statement, it is purposely to brick ASIC mining rigs including X3. When you buying it, you are betting that they are wrong.”
Monero has good reason to remain ASIC resistance because the normally secretive Bitmain made the news in late February, when a report showed that the four-year-old company had made profits between $3 and $4 bln in 2017, while American graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturer Nvidia, founded 24 years ago, made $3 bln during the same time period. Currently, Bitmain is the largest ASIC miner manufacturer and has numerous warehouses filled with miners hashing away various algorithms.