November 16, 2019 - by Moneiro
The scheduled update of November 2019 will bring a news awaited with much anticipation by the cryptocurrency community Monero. The update will mark the introduction of a new mining algorithm, known as RandomX.
Using a dynamic method, which is automatically modified at each run, RandomX promises to be an extremely efficient algorithm on common processors (CPUs), making mining viable on desktop computers, laptops and possibly tablets and cell phones viable.
RandomX is a milestone in the history of Monero, which was marked by the war against ASICs, the super-specialized chips that ended up centralizing the mining of Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies. Check out in this article a little bit of the history of Bitcoin and Monero mining, as well as the advantages that RandomX will bring to Monero.
One computer, one vote
Bitcoin's initial proposal was that all users (nodes) were miners on the network, so everyone would be contributing in some way to the network's security. Just as Satoshi Nakamoto described in the Bitcoin white paper, each computer should correspond to a vote in the network consensus.
The general mining mechanism of Bitcoin is the same as that of Monero: the proof-of-work mechanism. This mechanism provides some coins as a reward for miners for having performed mathematical calculations. To make a profit, miners need to make more money from the cryptocurrencies mined than from the money they spend on electricity. The efficiency of a mining equipment is directly proportional to the number of coins it mines per kWh of electricity consumed.
The specialization of mining hardware
In the first year of Bitcoin's existence, all users used ordinary computers to mine. Ordinary computers have a processor, also known as the Central Processing Unit (CPU).
About a year later, with the initial appreciation of Bitcoin, miners started using video cards, which are more efficient for doing the work needed for proof-of-work. These cards have a processor called the Graphic Processing Unit (GPU).
As of 2013, some amateur miners decided to take it a step further and started creating hardware equipment with specialized chips, whose sole function was to mine Bitcoin. These specialized mining equipment are called ASICs, which stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuits . They are customized and extremely optimized for the Bitocin algorithm, having a high cost of production, research and development. The first ASIC mined 50x faster than CPUs.
ASICs are extremely efficient, as they are pieces of hardware designed and built to perform a single function: to execute a certain cryptocurrency mining algorithm. And the algorithm that Bitcoin uses is SHA256, an algorithm that already existed before Bitcoin itself, and because of that, it was designed to be very simple to process. This simplicity in being processed made it very easy to create ASICs for Bitcoin.
The rise of ASICs has completely changed the cryptocurrency mining landscape. Multi-million dollar companies began to develop much more modern ASICs, which today are more than millions of times more efficient than CPUs. Progressively, mining profits have increasingly come to be in the hands of large mining companies that have ASICs, and each less in the hands of ordinary miners, who mined at home as a hobby or who owned a small mining farm with GPUs. The result of this was that the use of CPUs and video cards (GPU) became unviable in Bitcoin mining, which today is completely dominated by ASICs.
Since few companies and individuals have Bitcoin mining ASICs, most of the currency's computing power is in the hands of a small number of people. All this centralization increases the risk of an attack known as a “51% attack”, in which a single miner manages to reach more than 51% of the currency's computational power. With all this power, this miner gains the ability to rewrite the history of the blockchain. He will be able to mine blocks that erase recent transactions, effectively censoring them. In addition, he may even mine blocks that include double-spending transactions, which again use a currency that was used recently.
Another problem is the centralization of the production of ASICs. Currently about 80% of Bitcoin ASICs are produced by a single company. In addition, manufacturers do not put their ASICs on the market as soon as they are developed. They first mine on their own, until they develop a more efficient ASIC. In other words, when an ASIC arrives in stores, it is usually outdated and has probably been used to exhaustion by the manufacturer, with little time remaining.
Bitmain company ASICS
The CryptoNote protocol and the CryptoNight algorithm: an attempt to stop ASICs
The Monero cryptocurrency was launched in 2014, derived from the CryptoNote protocol, launched in 2013. This protocol was designed as a response to the evident deficiencies that existed in Bitcoin. One of its main differences was the fact that it uses the CryptoNight algorithm, which was designed to be resistant to ASICs, making it very difficult to create ASICs to mine the protocol coins.
To resist ASICS, the CryptoNight algorithm required a very large amount of memory for processing. Initially, this mainly prioritized CPUs, however, as video cards evolved over time, and with that the available memory, they ended up becoming more efficient than CPUs in Monero mining.
The main advantage of stopping ASICs is the decentralization of the mining process. Today Bitcoin mining is centralized in a few countries that have cheap electricity, and in a few companies that have ASICs. Virtually all new Bitcoin coins are generated in these countries, being distributed to this small number of people.
All this specialization in mining hardware makes it economically unfeasible for an ordinary person to participate in the mining process, as he will always be at a loss, paying more with the electricity bill than he can mine in cryptocurrency.
In contrast, Monero has always sought to use mining algorithms that generate mining as decentralized as possible. This point is important because it means that anyone who has access to a computer or laptop can participate in the Monero mining process. This is important for the decentralization of the network, for resistance to tyrannical governments and for a better distribution of the newly mined coins.
The end of resistance to ASICs
Monero's resistance to ASICs worked very well for 3-4 years, until, in late 2017, miners saw that the network hashrate suddenly started to increase exponentially. Many suspected that ASICs had been created to mine Monero specifically, but until then there was no concrete proof.
The suspicion was confirmed when the Monero team announced in March 2018 that an emergency hard fork would be carried out in April 2018, with a new mining algorithm. Shortly after the update was announced to the community, mining company Bitmain announced the start of sales of a new ASIC, the Antminer X3s, which was used exclusively to mine Monero's CryptoNight algorithm. This was the definitive confirmation that ASICs really existed and were being used on the network. It was also confirmation that the requirement for a large amount of memory on the chip (the strategy adopted by CryptoNight) was not enough to stop the development of ASICs.
The emergency hard fork was then carried out in April 2018, making the Antminer X3 completely useless for mining Monero. From the hard fork, the coins were again distributed in a fair and decentralized manner to several miners, and no longer just to Bitmain.
However, at the beginning of 2019, an exponential increase in the difficulty of mining was noticed again (see the graph below). As a result, the Monero team had to hurry and put forward the first hard fork of the year.
The black line in the graph represents the mining difficulty (hashrate) in Monero. On the X axis is the height of the block and on the Y axis are the nonces, which are arbitrary numbers chosen by the miners themselves. The nonces distribution pattern can be used to infer the presence of ASICs in the network, as the equipment is programmed to mine using the same nonces. Note that the two exponential increases that occurred in the mining difficulty occurred simultaneously with a drastic change in the distribution pattern of the nonces. In the first increase in difficulty, thick and evenly spaced horizontal lines appeared. In the second increase, there was an isolated increase in a group of nonces with lower values, located in the lower portion of the graph.
Regular change of the mining algorithm: a temporary solution
As a temporary solution to solve the ASIC problem, Monero's developers decided to make regular changes to the mining algorithm, as a way to save time until a definitive solution to the problem could be created.
After the April 2018 emergency hard fork, minor modifications were made to the mining algorithm every 6 months, just in order to "break" possible ASICs that existed on the network. These mining algorithm updates were carried out in conjunction with the scheduled currency updates, which occurred in the hard forks of October 2018 and March 2019. This change in the mining algorithm can be easily seen in the historical hashrate graph of the Monero network ( see the graph below), in which it is possible to observe that from April 2018 there were sharp falls every 6 months, which represent the hard forks, when all the miners had to reprogram their computers to use the new algorithm.
Regularly changing the mining algorithm, however, was not the ideal solution. Performing a hard fork introducing a new mining algorithm is always a risky operation, which ends up exposing the currency to the risk of bugs in the implementation of the code. Furthermore, although this temporary solution decentralized mining, it ended up centralizing decision-making in a few Monero developers. Something needed to be done to end ASICs permanently.
History of the Monero network hashrate. Note the exponential increase in the hashrate in late 2017, when ASICs were introduced in the network. Note the sharp drops that occur in hard forks (every 6 months)
The RandomX algorithm: a definitive solution?
To solve the problem, it was necessary to create an algorithm for which ASICs were not very efficient. As ASICs can only be designed to work on a single task, and CPUs are designed to perform multiple different tasks at the same time, the solution was to create a dynamic mining algorithm, which generates a random program on a virtual machine each time is executed, making it difficult to create a specific circuit to mine the algorithm.
Designed by Howard Chu ( @hyc_symas ), developer responsible for implementing the Monero blockchain LMDB database, the RandomX algorithm was designed for use on common processors (CPUs), which are much more prevalent and accessible than video (GPUs) and ASICs. The execution of the program generated by the RandomX algorithm is designed to use the maximum possible components of the CPU. The new algorithm also forces the use of the computer's own physical memory (RAM) (external to the CPU), since its execution requires at least 2 GB of memory, an amount greater than that found inside the CPUs. RAM memory than previous Monero algorithms, it will be easier to detect that the computer is mining, which will make it harder for hackers to mine hidden on third-party computers.
In general, it can be said that a CPU is nothing more than an “ASIC” designed to perform general purpose computing operations. Since RandomX was designed to be extremely efficient on CPUs, if any company wants to create a dedicated ASIC, it will basically have to create a common processor. And this is a process that costs a lot of time and money in research and development, in an industry that has strong names like Intel and AMD as competitors.
Why not use video cards?
The launch of RandomX revolted many Monero miners who had already invested heavily in powerful video cards. Howard Chu argues that mining should be done on common processors, as they are very easy to access, can be purchased at any retail store, and are already present on many computers, cell phones, tablets and other types of devices around the world , unlike video cards, which are generally restricted to gaming and professional computers, and ASICs, which can only be purchased from Bitmain.
Compared to video card GPUs, there are also other advantages: GPUs have a lot of variation in instruction sets between different manufacturers and many drivers are proprietary, with closed source code. In CPUs, instruction sets are better documented and there are multiple open source compilers available.
Howard Chu, programmer and violinist, developed the database used by Monero and participated in the creation of the RandomX algorithm
Implementation and future of RandomX
The transition from the current algorithm to RandomX is scheduled for the scheduled update (hard fork) of November 2019. After the algorithm was developed in a transparent, public and open source way on GitHub , the community carried out a collective financing in which 1,400 XMR were collected to carry out code security audits by four independent companies. All audits were completed successfully, without finding critical flaws in the implementation.
In the same semester that RandomX was announced, the processor manufacturer AMD launched its new Ryzen 9 3900X processor, which despite the high cost (about R $ 2,800), quickly became the favorite of the Monero miners for having a great power of mining (about 12,000 H / s) with low energy consumption.
No one is sure whether the new algorithm will be enough to stop the development of ASICs for Monero. Howard Chu believes that the algorithm will be beneficial to CPUs for at least the next three to five years. Some users are more skeptical, and believe that an ASIC will be developed a few months after the algorithm is launched.
There is still no consensus on how the project will proceed in relation to the war against ASICs in the future. Some users believe that RandomX is Monero's latest attempt to stop ASICs. If it fails (and a new ASIC is developed), many users argue that the currency should adopt an ASIC-friendly algorithm, such as SHA-3. Other users argue that Monero should continue to research new methods to try to combat ASICs.
Although the end result of this battle against ASICs is still uncertain, RandomX was already a demonstration that the Monero team will persist innovating to pursue its ideals of decentralization, even if it means doing the opposite of what other currencies are doing.
Did you like this article? Mining Monero is a process that doesn't have to be difficult and anyone can participate! Get a better understanding of the mining process and see how your home computers can help you make money.
The bottom line is for the people to regain their original, moral principles, which have intentionally been watered out over the past generations by our press, TV, and other media owned by the Illuminati/Bilderberger Group, corrupting our morals by making misbehavior acceptable to our society. Only in this way shall we conquer this oncoming wave of evil.
The Monero cryptocurrency is in consistant battle against ASIC's which continuously try to break their algorithms. Monero makes use of normal CPU's found in most PC's. Their latest Random-X algorithm are estimated to endure for 3-5 years. The future of our 'money' will be in the hands of genious programers and automatic robots forever testing each other while other clever algorithms are doing 'mining', making profits for their owners.
For the un-initiated, the first step of an algorithm written by humans, would look something like this:
Or this :
Which, by the time it has been entered into a digital system would look like this:
All articles contained in Human-Synthesis are freely available and collected from the Internet. The interpretation of the contents is left to the readers and do not necessarily represent the views of the Administrator. Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Human-Synthesis will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. Human-Synthesis grants permission to cross-post original Human-Synthesis articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified.
The source and the author's copyright must be displayed. For publication of Human-Synthesis articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites. Human-Synthesis contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.