Let’s talk about ASIC mining

Re: Monero Original. Wow, I hadn’t heard about this until now. This whole scenario should be setting off alarms in the minds of Zcash users and Developers :alarm_clock: :exclamation:. Bitmain is only out to get a return on their investment and doesn’t seem to care about the risks to users Privacy that having/spending/claiming coins on both sides of a fork of a privacy coin causes.

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Yes, I realize if Zcash commits to an end-of-year Equihash parameter change, then ASIC manufacturers can have ASICs ready. But regardless of how you feel about ASIC resistance policies, the parameter change is still a big improvement over the current status quo. And it doesn’t preclude makeing further PoW changes early next year if that is deemed desirable.

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I was wondering why there needs to be a hard fork to slightly change an existing algorithm. Do you have a link to an article or blog where I could read about it? I was under the impression it could be changed in some ways without necessitating a hard fork. For example, is it possible to make a new software program that simply used more memory and was more efficient to where an ASIC would need a massive amount of memory and be less cost effective?

I, for one, appreciate Zooko’s pragmatic approach here. There’s not enough of this in the crypto world.

One question I have for everyone/anyone is what the advantages of allowing ASIC mining are. I understand that there are (network wide) efficiency advantages, but are there any others?

Abstract comparison:

swords and guns

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Zooko, it is very simple. ASIC mining acceptance would mean that every single miner that has supported the Zcash network will be displaced and forced to either switch coins or invest in new hardware. By not outright supporting the current GPU mining community for your own coin you are positioning yourself against the very people who provide the coin’s existence. In a way you are biting the hand that feeds you.

I understand that from an objective perspective like one that a dev should be taking, what do you care between GPU and ASIC, either way the coin is going to get mined and the network will be supported. Some may argue that ASIC mining efficiencies would provide a more stable network overall when compared to GPU mining since it is less sensitive to cost-constraints.

However, because ASIC mining is hardware-to-algo-specific, this reduces the supply of possible hardware available to be used for any one coin by bottle-necking the manufacuring of these units (Bitmain). Unlike GPU mining that has numerous manufactures, the ASIC mining hardware supply can be controlled by less entities, thereby increasing centralization by reducing the ease-of-entry into the market/network.

Mining without ASIC machines would allow more people to mine because the ease-of-entry is higher than with ASIC mining. More individual people mining = less centralized, you don’t need data to support a theory as broad as that. ASIC machines benefit from economies of scale, which is more easily achievable by a large corporation than for an individual person.

The other “hypothesis” you mention are IMO smoke and mirrors to distract us from the issue. At the core of the argument is: ASIC mining would mean less individual people mining and more firm/corporation based mining. As more entities control more hashing power, the network becomes more centralized amongst a few large players instead of being decentralized and spread out across the world between everyone that wants to support the network.

Again though, either way this is all pointless because ASIC or GPU mining centralization debates are all eventually made moot by the overall centralized nature of the PoW system and the pool-based mining structures in place. After the war of ASIC vs GPU is over the pools will still be there not only taking payout/mining fees, but undermining the centralization of the network by putting all the power in the hands of few. No pools, no mining, no network. So who controls the pools? Questions to ask yourself Zooko.

Other than a possible PoS migration, one potential solution of the top of my head: Require miners to run a full node, while also updating the node software to allow for GPU mining. Right now I can launch my full node on Ubuntu via Windows 10 and enable mining with my CPU by setting ‘gen=1’ in my configuration file. If you were to incorporate GPU mining software (look at EthOS, linux-based operating system with miners, drivers, etc.) into the node functionality, you could in theory have a Zcash core-pool. No more individual pools that feed the network. Instead you have everyone’s rig running a node and hashing directly to the network. Mining rewards are sent to the node account and the network is not only benefiting from more nodes but from true decentralization.

In conclusion: ASIC vs GPU centralization arguments are entirely undermined by PoW pool-based centralization. A PoS migration would be best though maybe through some clever re-working of the Zcashd software we can both eliminate pool-based centralization problems, while strengthening the network overall. A potential combination of both (PoS with full node requirement) could be an end-all solution that may prove to be the best for the network.

If anyone needs help getting a full node on Ubuntu via Windows 10 I can help them it is very easy.


Asic mined zcash would dispell any of your pesky fears of decentralization, also you probably wouldn’t have to worry about all this annoying development, hype would be the new song. Plus, since you can’t fork (because then all your asics would be trash), you’re stuck with the current zcash Merkle tree and it’s max limit of (correct me if im wrong) 2^29 or 536,870,912 possible transactions nor can you fix the diminishing privacy value. I don’t like this thread.

“If anyone needs help getting a full node on Ubuntu via Windows 10 I can help them it is very easy.”

Are you running a VM with VirtualBox? I am meaning to try that soon. It sounds like a good idea on the mining to nodes. It is essentially what Vertcoin does, but every miner doesn’t have to run a node. They can host a few other miners on each node.

But we see Bitmain will just mine to the old coin if a fork happens to a new coin. So any future forks for Zcash should not lead to a new coin, only change network, change algos etc.

No, with the Windows 10 founders update you can now go into ‘Windows Features’ (just type that after pressing the windows key) and enable ‘Windows Subsystem for Linux’ in the drop down. Restart and then download Ubuntu from the Microsoft Store. Once downloaded just follow the instructions on the Zcash command line installation video, the actual commands are all in the video description, you literally just have to copy paste them in order.


An scrypt ASIC attack timed just a bit coincidental with the recent takedown of their posting from /r/cryptocurrency and wide calls for action against ASIC coins.

This is exactly why a proactive increase in the params is needed. It took a few hours to force 51% with an scrypt asic farm coupled with a code exploit.

This has the fingerprints of a well coordinated, planned and executed attack. The Verge community had been popping off a lot (more then usual) recently in a very bold manner.

This is the danger of ASIC, especially for a security-minded privacy coin like our Z.

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Has anyone asked @zooko , on the record, if he has been in contact with any chip manufacturers?

the bugs allowed them to use a scrypt farm and blast out blocks.

The real truth of the matter is the PoS is 100% dependent on wealth. It puts control into the hands of those who are wealthy enough to have very large stakes on the network (so again centralization and control). So how is PoS different from the economic systems we have now?

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So can you use only one instance of Linux or Windows at a time? It would be nice to run both at the same time like a VM, but thanks for the info. I will do that when I need it. It sounds much easier than doing a VM.

Proof-of-Stake is an interesting topic and best discussed on its own forum thread. Let’s keep the current discussion focused on ASIC mining and resistance. Thanks.

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Let me have a stab at this too:

  1. This is impossible to know, unless an algo hard fork shows a big hit to the network. However, if a big drop in hash and difficulty does result from a hard fork it will quickly be obscured by GPU miners switching over. I’m not talking about the 10-100Ksol miners who determine its more profitable to mine Monero and then switch. I am talking about the 1-10MSol and higher miners who will switch into a pool for one block and switch to something else via an automated system. This is common practice and obscures any recognizable patterns.

  2. There is also the argument that Bitmain has been mining with a Cryptonight ASIC for many months. Just a glance at the numbers for such a scenario and its pretty clear keeping an ASIC secret has a astronomical upside profit, then you can sell to the public and get your production costs back, and more likely a profit. This is a win win business model, and I must complement Bitmain, even though I am not a fan.

So a hijacked CPU mining Moreno can make a known amount of hash power. For example: I picked a rather high end Intel Core i7-5820K Desktop Processor (6-Cores, 3.3GHz), this can make $0.2791 cents a day at todays prices and difficulty. So if I had a botnet with 1,000,000 CPU’s, I can make $279.1K a day. Again that is 1,000,000 CPUs with 100% dedication to Moreno mining. So pretty lucrative numbers, and I see your point… but a million people that cant seem to understand why their computer is so slow…Human nature is to turn it off, in this case the botnet gets a small fraction of the total power available. Its also common knowledge via honey pots that bonnets do not want to be discovered. Therefore, it is in their best interest to remain undetectable. This points to throttled usage based on the hijacked system user usage, again pointing to low system availability of the botnet. So corporate users are most at risk here since its still common practice to have every computer in the building running at 2AM without a single employee present. However, corporate IT departments are also most likely to monitor for suspicious traffic and detect the botnet in off hours. Any way you look at it, the botnet will have limited use of its resources if it want to remain undetectable.

So 100% utilization of a botnet, with 100% Intel Core i7-5820K processors, represents 47% of network capacity, a scary number. However, the probability if such a botnet existing is low (I could probably put together a proof of that if needed). And, there is not a way to prove or disprove that a botnet has this level of control and its not actually a secret ASIC miner instead.

Again you don’t know that Monero is not being mined today by ASIC’s. This data would be very difficult to data mine / expose. You cant get this level of detail without a deep learning data dive with AI. I’m not saying it cant be done, but its most definitely a research project.

Having said that, I am working with various top level academics in this field (in different area) that would find this line of research interesting. Several have expresses interest in block chain tech. I can potentialy provide introductions.

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I am thinking about an unconventional idea.

We can overcome ASIC once and for all.

The zcash mining software can prove to the pool and
to the zcash network that it is running on a gpu card.

Lets assume that the pool sends to the mining solver a small cuda code and a small equivalent
opencl code (thus covering nvidia and amd cards), the miner software can run the code on the
gpu and return the result in following submit messages to prove that it runs on a gpu.

I can easily implement this idea in my solver
and I am sure that other solver developers can also do it easily.


Also just to be clear, I agree with most others on this thread (just a bit of kissing the my peers behinds). Your credibility is in question since you have done a 180 on ASIC resistance. This is not exactly what you promised Zcash was going to be about, and your promises ultimately got many of us involved. However, I am not willing to place you into the category of vile enemy of humanity just yet. Your questions have merit and I can understand your position on the subject. More discussion is needed.