According to the latest analysis, Monero, the privacy-focused cryptocurrency which is known for using ring signatures to obfuscate the actual sender of a transaction is dominated by ASICs, and if it is indeed correct, Monero community would have to make a decision, once more.
In the analysis performed by MoneroCrusher, a pseudo-anonymous user suggests that 85 percent of the Monero network is mined through ASICs. The author notes that nonce distribution due to some reason was not chosen in a random fashion as it should be, a random number between 0 and 2^32.
“Once the April fork kicked in you can instantly see the hashrate dropping dramatically and the thick white stripes gone instantaneously. Thus we can conclude that the thick white stripes were nonces picked by pre-fork specialized hardware or in simpler terms: ASICs.”
Now, the author says on the basis of the analysis, the ASICs did not choose nones randomly rather intentionally tried to conceal them by selecting the pattern that existed before ASIC. But with ASICs dominating the Monero mining, it became obvious that a large number of blocks were producing a distinct pattern.
ASIC Manufacturers Got Smart
Back in April, last year, Monero had a hard fork and implemented a new algorithm to prevent ASIC domination. At that time, the hashrate dropped dramatically and ASIC domination could be seen but within a few days the hashrate went up again to about 480 Megahashes per second.
Moving to June, the author says, specialized hardware came online again that was barely noticeable.
“There’s a “wall” of suddenly increased randomness, meaning that the ASIC manufacturers had learned from past mistakes and implemented random nonce picking. The thing is that in its decentralized, “natural” state, the nonce picking in the Monero network isn’t that random.”
As ASICs became more dominated as evident from the “over-randomness” and GPU miners left for more profitable networks.
In December, there has been a sudden increase of nonces in the sub 1.342*10⁹ area while other areas decreased dramatically meaning small mining operations get shut off, “while all the network hashrate centralizes in the hands of the ASIC owner(s).”
“At the time of writing the network hashrate has increased to 810 Mh/s or 255% since the first signs of the ASICs at the end of December 2018, or approximately 40 days ago.”
The author concludes that “the current network hashrate likely consists of 85.2% ASICs (5400 ASIC machines) and some die-hard GPU miners and botnets.”
Although Monero is determined to remain ASIC resistant, many in the crypto space say the fight against ASIC miners won’t last long. ASIC may be inevitable and if they do have the 85 percent of the network hash rate, Monero community has to decide, if it will yet again go for the hard fork route.