A lot of research has been conducted regarding the future of cryptocurrency mining. Not all of these findings are overly positive. In the case of currencies using the Equihash algorithm, it seems a large amount of the combined hashrate is provided by ASIC hardware. It’s a worrisome development which could introduce a lot more 51% attacks in the future.
The Future of Equihash May Be in Peril
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts all over the world have witnessed an influx of 51% attacks over the past few months. Currencies such as Bitcoin Gold, Electroneum, and Verge have all suffered attacks. Although the full repercussions of these developments remain unclear, it seems highly likely that more 51% attacks are looming around the corner.
Research by experts at the University of Luxembourg puts all of this in a completely different light. It seems there is a good reason as to why these attacks have kept happening over the past few months. Close to 30% of the entire Equihash hashrate comes directly from ASIC devices, which is a rather worrisome development, all things considered.
While all major cryptocurrency networks are subject to ASIC mining, they also present a major problem in the long run. More ASIC mining will eventually lead to more centralization issues and the potential for miners – and even mining pools – to collude as a way to attack the networks in question.
For Equihash currencies, it seems to only be a matter of time until new incidents come to light. Major currencies such as Zcash use this algorithm, although it has been safe from such attacks for quite some time now. Bitcoin Gold, ZenCash, and a few others are completely different creatures in this regard. With Bitmain having launched its Antminer Z9 mini ASIC recently, it seems more hardware will come online soon.
The bigger question is what this means for the Equihash mining algorithm in the long run. After all, if these ASICs continue to pose problems, it’s only natural that most altcoins will move away from this algorithm or try to modify it in such a way that it can remain safe from 51% attacks. That is much easier said than done, though.
Moreover, it remains unclear who is responsible for the recent 51% attacks. One obvious possibility is that Bitmain is covertly mining these cryptocurrencies with its own ASICs prior to their release. Whether or not there is any truth to that remains to be determined.