bitmain asic

Chinese mining rig manufacturer Bitmain has unveiled the first Equihash ASIC miners, making it likely that it will soon be unprofitable to mine Zcash using GPU-powered devices.

Bitmain began accepting preorders for the Antminer Z9 mini on Friday, and the miners will begin shipping in June.

The Z9 mini is the first application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miner built to mine the Equihash Proof-of-Work (PoW) mining algorithm, which is currently used by Zcash, Bitcoin Gold, and a variety of lesser-known cryptocurrencies.

The deployment of these devices will alter the nature of Zcash mining, which until now has been done primarily with GPU chips, which are available at most electronics retailers.

ASICs — which are only available from specialized manufacturers like Bitmain — are significantly more efficient than GPU miners, meaning that Zcash GPU mining will likely now be restricted to hobby miners who do it for fun — not profit.

Zcash originally adopted Equihash because it was ASIC-resistant, making it difficult for a single company — namely Bitmain — to dominate the production of Zcash miners.

However, now that Equihash ASIC miners are set to hit the market the Zcash community must grapple with whether to make its peace with this development or adopt a hard fork to render the Z9 mini incompatible with the cryptocurrency’s network.

However, maintaining ASIC resistance will likely require regular changes to the coin’s mining algorithm, and even then few believe that it will be able to stave off ASICs forever.

Zcash founder Zooko Wilcox acknowledged this in a forum post discussing his evolving views on ASICs and the mining landscape in general.

“I’m really chagrined that I let it sound like we were committing to a social contract of ongoing ASIC-resistance. That is absolutely never what I had intended to commit to,” he wrote of the original decision to adopt Equihash.

However, he added that — at least right now — he still believes that ensuring the network has a wide distribution of coins is more important than “locking miners into a large sunk-cost investment in the cryptocurrency.”

“Oh, bottom-line, by the way, is that I’m basically still in the same place now that I was four years ago when we first decided to go for widespread-distribution-of-coins at the expense of sunk-cost-incentive-alignment,” he concluded. “I still think that widespread-distribution-of-coins is more important (but I still think that it can’t last forever, and that the other side of the trade-off may also prove to be important).”

Featured Image from Pixabay

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News Bytes for May 4, 2018

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P2P Cryptocurrency Exchange CoinTouch Shuts Down Over GDPR Concerns

Blockchain’s own David Murray reports peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency exchange CoinTouch has shut its virtual doors over concerns related to the passage of the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), taking effect later this month.

Mastercard Blames Cryptocurrencies for Drop in First-quarter Growth

Mastercard customers can buy in and out of cryptocurrencies, and store them into their crypto wallet. But some banks have prohibited the practice including Bank of America, Chase, Citgroup, and JPMorgan who in February banned using credit cards for cryptocurrency purchases. Mastercard shares dropped by 2% this quarter with their CFO Martina Hund-Mejean stating that “this is due to the recent drop-off in crypto wallet funding,” on their earnings call Wednesday.

Kitty Malware is Targeting Drupal to Mine for Cryptocurrency

ZDNet reports that “The vulnerability allows threat actors to employ various attack vectors to compromise Drupal websites. Scanning, backdoor implementation, and cryptocurrency mining are all possible, as well as a data theft and account hijacking.” And even worse, “the malware is also commanded to infect other web resources with a mining script dubbed me0w.js”, which attacks any future visitors of the website as well.

Basis Introduces a “stable” Cryptocurrency That Aims to Cut Volatility

Backed by billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller and Federal Reserve chair runner-up Kevin Warsh, Basis “aims to keep a stable value around $1 by increasing and shrinking supply”, the company’s founder told CNBC Friday.

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News Bytes for April 30, 2018

Coinbase Internally Values Itself at $8 Billion, Sources Say

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has internally valued itself at approximately $8 billion, sources familiar with the company’s recent acquisition of paid messaging startup Earn.com say.

Miner One Successfully Launches Bitcoin-mining Balloon

Miner One successfully launched its bitcoin-mining balloon today. Space Miner One is a capsule and high-altitude balloon that will “perform data-mining operations at the edge of space”. Miner One’s goal is to “remind people that cryptocurrency is really about the future and the revolutionary technology at its heart: so-called blockchain technology.”
You can watch the launch on Facebook.

Unicef Australia Turns Computer Processing Power Into Cryptocurrency For Fundraising

With nearly 2,000 donors already, The Hopepage website uses some of your computer’s processing power to automatically generate funds for UNICEF Australia.

SEC Remains Cautious But Open To Cryptocurrency Fundraising

Underlining the need for cryptocurrency regulation, the SEC reminds investors to be cautions of ICOs. “If you want to know what our markets would look like with no securities regulation, what it would look like if the SEC didn’t do its job, the answer is the ICO market,” SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson said. However, the agency still remains open to a legal avenue for crypto-investments.

Bitcoin.com Fraud Lawsuit Gains Support From Over 1,000 People

The could-be lawsuit centers around the widely-held belief that Bitcoin.com has deliberately misled users into buying an altcoin instead of Bitcoin itself.

crypto hope page

In late April 2018, UNICEF Australia’s home site began to invite visitors to a page called The Hopepage, where funds are raised for UNICEF through cryptocurrency mining. By opening the website and clicking, “Start Donating,” a visitor agrees to run a miner in their web browser and use their computer’s central processing unit or CPU to solve crypto-puzzles and earn digital currency for the international charity. The digital money mined is XMR of the Monero blockchain. It is converted into fiat and used to fund UNICEF’s humanitarian work with and for children, and specifically, refugees. The site text reads:

Give hope, just by being here … The cryptocurrency is automatically donated to UNICEF Australia and is turned into real funds that reach children through life-saving supplies like safe water, therapeutic food and vaccines … Mining is perfectly safe for your computer.

Crypto Mining to Help Young Refugees

Donors can choose how much of their processing power to commit to this process while leaving the browser window open – 60 percent is the default setting and the full range is 20 to 80 percent. While there is no further cost associated with participation, this use of significant computer power and energy does constitute a real donation.

UNICEF is using a JavaScript miner for XMR developed by Coinhive. Companies sometimes include this mining option in their browsers and offer users benefits like in-game currencies or ad-free media experiences in return. In this case, the funds raised will be used to support Rohingya youth. The Rohingya is an ethnic group, which is denied citizenship in Myanmar and has experienced decades of prosecution there. After surges of violence in 2017, many have fled to Bangladesh and there are about 400,000 children among the Rohingya refugees.

UNICEF, Blockchain and Charity Mining

UNICEF also turned to crypto-mining as a fundraising tool in February 2018. It asked gamers to install the mining software Claymore in order to send Ethereum to its electronic wallet. The charity’s other blockchain-related initiatives include funding blockchain projects like South Africa-based 9Needs, which uses distributed ledger technology to create digital identities for use in early childhood education programs. It also co-ran blockchain labs with U.N. Women and it led a blockchain hackathon in Kazakhstan. Similarly, the U.N. has used blockchain to launch an ID-project for refugees around the globe.

Other mining-for-charity projects exist in the cryptosphere. A group called Bail Bloc uses mining to pay people’s bail who are awaiting trial, much like a community bail fund. Charity Mine pools and donates browser-mining earnings to its community’s current charity of choice. Cudo Donate from Cudo Ventures aims to provide user-friendly mining-donation options to multiple charities.

Feature image from Hopepage.org.

On April 6th, at 16:44:02 UTC (block 1546000), the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero successfully performed its scheduled hard fork. Which, among other updates, hardened the cryptocurrency against ASIC miners.

As a result of the PoW change, various forks have appeared that intend to maintain the old blockchain, stating that the existence of ASICs for the cryptocurrency is good.

ASIC Resistance

The Monero community first began to suspect that an ASIC was in play in January, when the hashrate began to increase rapidly. Though at the time, the Monero community believed that developing an ASIC for CryptoNote would be prohibitively expensive.

Monero reported hash rate – bitinfocharts.com

The suspicions were proved correct when Bitmain announced its AntMiner X3 ASIC in mid-march alongside other ASIC announcements. Though these announcements occurred not long after the Monero team announced that it would be changing the PoW algorithm to set back any ASIC miners.

Other features added

One of the notable changes made over the hard fork is support for the ledger nano hardware wallet. Otherwise, sub-addresses and multi-signature wallets were added to the reference wallet.

You can read the full changelog on the Monero team’s blog post.

Results

While the full extent of the hashrate drop is still unknown, the difficulty algorithm has begun to lower the difficulty. At the time of writing, monerod reported a network hashrate of 645.63 MH/s and a difficulty of 77475745059. It is expected that the difficulty and therefore reported hashrate will have normalized around block 1546720.