Over the past few months, ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) has been taking centre stage in the cryptocurrency world for various reasons. To the crypto-connoisseurs, this original modern piece of hardware has become indispensable nowadays for its ability to mine various cryptocurrencies (predominantly Bitcoin) while mitigating the excessive consumption of electricity as well as overheating of the device that eventually leads to the thermal shutdown.
These integrated circuits were previously designed for the purpose of audio processing and the management of mobile phone calls. However, for the mining purpose, these chips are incorporated into specifically designed power supplies and motherboards that are combined into a singular unit. ASIC miners come with a reasonably sophisticated design that enables them to adapt according to the specific hash algorithms used by different cryptocurrencies.
What is Equihash Mining
Equihash is a memory-oriented proof of work algorithm that is known for its reliability and security. One of the most popular cryptocurrencies based on this algorithm is Zcash. Previously, one of the main grievances regarding ASIC miners was that it provided an opposite approach towards decentralisation as a few cryptocurrencies limited its usage with massive market caps. However, the scenario changed after Bitmain released an ASIC miner tailor-made for the Equihash algorithm in May 2018. In their official statement made on Twitter, the Bitmain team announced that Antminer Z9 mini, the ASIC miner designed for Equihash mining would be distributed with a limit of one miner per user to prevent unnecessary hoarding. Consequently, now mining Zcash as well as other currencies based on this particular algorithm has become considerably more comfortable.
According to a study released by the Zcash foundation and the researchers of Luxembourg, ASIC miners represented nearly 30% of the overall Equihash mining hash-rate in May, 2018. This piece of data is sufficient to indicate the pivotal impact of ASIC miners on Equihash mining.
On 23rd of May, Bitcoin Gold, another cryptocurrency that follows the same Equihash paradigm was subjected to the 51% attack where precisely someone took 51% of its hash rate. The incident cost nearly a loss of 18 million USD worth BTG. On June 7th, reputed ASIC mining manufacturer Obelisk announced their plans for an ASIC Launchpad that would effectively mitigate this growing threat of malicious cyber-attacks like 51%. Obelisk endeavours to partner with coin developers to devise an accurate ASIC-friendly algorithm for this purpose.
Once this Launchpad is released, it is likely to be of tremendous assistance towards coins like Zcash, Bitcoin Gold, Monacoin, Verge, etc. that are based on Equihash proof of work algorithm.
Profitability of the CPU and GPU mining
The way the world is progressing, it is safe to say that cryptocurrencies are going to be a significant medium of transaction in the future. As the profitability of cryptocurrency mining majorly depends on the amount of electricity consumption during the process, using CPU (Central Processing Unit) or GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) miners wouldn’t be entirely convenient. Under the circumstances, ASIC miners could become the most desirable mining hardware if it continues to expand its purview of algorithms.