Outrage as Bitmain Introduces ASIC to Mine Monero

The ASIC won't be able to mine Monero after the coin's upcoming hard fork.

ASICs are yet to make an impact on the mining of digital coins using the CryptoNote protocol. However, Bitmain, one of the largest suppliers of ASIC-based mining equipment, has cracked the nut, as it announced its latest machine, the CryptoNight-capable X3.

https://twitter.com/BITMAINtech/status/974180147166261248

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However, the introduction of the X3 has attracted criticism, with developers of Monero, one of the most popular coins using the CryptoNote hashing algorithm, at the forefront of this criticizing squad. Monero’s lead developer Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni himself warned potential customers against the compatibility of Antminer X3 for mining the coin.

According to an email sent by Bitmain, the company is offering a substantial discount to its existing customers for Antminer X3 and has reduced the price of the device from $7,600 to $3,000. However, industry specialists warn that Monero’s upcoming hard fork will change the coin’s proof-of-work algorithm, meaning that the Antminer X3 will not be able to mine it. Many are also accusing Bitmain of offloading the soon-to-be obsolete mining devices after secretly mining Monero for months.

Monero’s Response

Monero, a digital coin designed to be mined with the spare processing power of computers, has been struggling with a massive surge in its hash power for a few months now. To tackle the issue, Monero announced an upgrade to its proof-of-work algorithm on February 11, which will make the coin compatible with the CryptoNight algorithm.

“We will perform an emergency hard fork to curb any potential threat from ASICs if needed,” the announcement read. “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…Finally, we will continue to research alternative Proof of Work functions that may provide better ASIC resistance than Cryptonight.”

Moreover, a Twitter user pointed out that the skyrocketing hashrate of Monero is directly tied to Bitmain’s acquisition of CryptoNight-enabled chipsets.

Even after the scheduled hardfork, the Antminer X3 can be used to mine other coins using the CryptoNote algorithm, such as Bytecoin, Digitalnote, and Darknetcoin. However, as these coins are less popular than Monero, mining them will likely prove less profitable.

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