In light of recent concerns regarding centralisation of cryptocurrencies via dedicated ASIC miners, Vertcoin issued a challenge to the community, called the #FairMining movement. An article, published here, calls on cryptocurrency developers to join in the anti-ASIC movement.
ASICs are machines, mostly built by one company – Bitmain – developed specifically to efficiently solve algorithms of a given cryptocurrency in order to maximise profitability for the user. Problematically, they are very costly and are usually purchased in bulk quantities to be used on expensive mining farms, most of which are concentrated in China. James Lovejoy, lead developer of Vertcoin, expresses his concerns regarding this:
“80% of the bitcoin mining occurs in China. So, that isn’t very decentralized. What if China really did ban Bitcoin mining and they just turned the power off, which they totally have the power to do? 80% of Bitcoin’s hashrate would disappear overnight, which would be pretty catastrophic. With Vertcoin, that would be pretty hard to do because you would be going into people’s homes and telling them to turn their computer off.” – James Lovejoy, Vertcoin lead developer (source)
ASIC-resistant coins like Vertcoin are designed with this problem in mind. If an ASIC were to be developed for Vertcoin, the algorithm for mining it would be changed. This would render the ASIC useless, so Bitmain is discouraged against developing such an ASIC. Recently, it was revealed that Bitmain has developed an ASIC for Ethereum. This, in part, provoked the “call to action” for “fair mining”, issued by Vertcoin development team’s Eric Kubik.
Vertcoin is calling on all cryptocurrencies to join in the fight against ASICs. Monero, for example, will be forking in April to avoid ASICs centralising the currency. Other coin developers, such as Digibyte, have responded positively to Vertcoin’s call to action against ASICs. Debate is swirling around the possibility of Ethereum also forking to avoid ASIC vulnerability.
For an excellent, detailed breakdown of the problem of ASICs and Vertcoin’s stand against centralisation, have a read of the article here.