It seems the one constant in the cryptocurrency mining landscape is change. Mining has gone from CPUs, to FPGAs, to GPUs and finally ASICs. Until recently, however, ASICs were only available for a minority of cryptocurrencies. The single most popular cryptocurrency to go the way of the ASIC was also the first, Bitcoin. Once ASIC miners went mainstream, all other mining methods were trivialized. Now, cryptocurrencies are starting to actively consider and make anti-ASIC changes.
Altcoins making anti-ASIC updates
There are several altcoin that have made their thoughts and intentions clear about ASIC-resistance. Here are the one’s we were able to find that had a stance on the issue.
- Bitcoin Gold (BTG) – Tweet assuring miners of updates to fend of specialized mining equipment
- Bitcoin Private (BTCP) – Tweet regarding updates in response to ASIC miners
- Bitcoin Z (BTCZ) – BitcoinZ thread regarding ASIC resistance
- Monero (XMR) – Tweet stating Antminer X3 will not be able to mine Monero
- SafeCoin (SFE) – Tweet regarding ASIC mining hardware
- Sumokoin (SUMO) – Tweet regarding ASIC fork planning
Additionally, Votecoin (VOT) says they’ll do whatever Zcash does.
Altcoins weighing anti-ASIC changes
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Votecoin (VTC) – (has indicated they will follow the route chosen by Zcash)
- Zcash (ZEC) – Zcash community thread regarding ASIC
- ZenCash (ZEN)
Altcoins not-making anti-ASIC updates
The following altcoins have stated that they are not pursuing making any changes at this time.
- Komodo (KMD) – Community thread and Komodo’s statement
- Siacoin – Response to the Sia community and Bitmain
Many have already declared GPU mining to be dead in 2018. Currently, the answer is “we’ll see.” There are several things that can happen that will keep GPU mining alive.
Bitmain ASIC Miners
Bitmain, the company that made ASIC miners more reliable and affordable also put them into mass production. While improving upon their SHA-256 bitcoin-focused Antminer ASICs, Bitmain set their sites on other pastures. The next cryptocurrencies on their radar were Litecoin and Dash which use the Scrypt and X11 algorithms respectively.
ASIC resistant cryptocurrencies
Up to this point, GPU miners weren’t all that concerned. Many of the so-called altcoins that spun off from bitcoin, including Ethereum, were ASIC-resistant. This meant that developing an ASIC miner for their underlying algorithm would be a difficult undertaking. The hope was that ASIC-resistant cryptocurrencies would stave off potential mining centralization.
The argument is that when a certain mining pool or mining hardware developer controls a significant part of the network it allows them to have a very strong voice in the future of that coin. We’re not debating that here, however. There are plenty of good resources that dive deeper into the ASIC vs. GPU conundrum.
ASIC resistant does not mean ASIC proof
The problem with ASIC resistance is that it did not mean ASIC-proof. With enough resources behind them Bitmain has developed ASICs that out mine GPU miners for a handful of algorithms. Between late in 2017 and the first half of 2018 Bitmain released Antminer ASICs for Blake(2b), CryptoNight, Ethash and Equihash. That puts the many cryptocurrencies that were primarily mined by GPU miners in the crosshairs. Which ones? Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, HUSH, Monero, Zcash and ZenCash to name just a few.
GPUs vs. ASICs: Is GPU mining dead in 2018?
Many have already declared GPU mining to be dead in 2018. Currently, the answer is “we’ll see.” It should be no surprise that those watching developments closely are those who have invested in GPU mining rigs. If you’ve invested a lot in GPU mining rigs, you were gambling in a different way than purchasing cryptocurrency outright. The bet is that you’ll recoup the money invested in the mining rig and profit thereafter, making enough to make the endeavor worthwhile. So is it dead or not?
There are several things that can happen that will keep GPU mining alive. One, which is being reviewed by several altcoins, is forking and modify their underlying algorithm. For those not familiar with ASICs, they are useful only in mining the algorithm they have been designed to mine. That means an algorithm change renders them useless for cryptocurrencies that do so.
Should you sell your GPU mining rig?
So, the question remains: Should you sell your GPU mining rig? From our seat, not yet. There’s a lot of people that are passionate about keeping GPU mining alive as an “anyone can do it” route. There’s others that see Bitmain’s moves as a centralization of all cryptocurrency mining and a threat to all cryptocurrencies.
Regardless of what you think about ASICs, it seems that there will definitely be coins to profitably mine with GPUs in the future. For now.
Have an update on a coin making a change to fend of ASIC mining hardware? Let us know in the comments below!