WariHash Blog

This Week in Mining: May 25th

Here’s the week’s mining industry news:
  1. The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has called for a national strategy on cryptocurrency mining. This comes off the heels of a new parliamentary bill applying foreign exchange regulations to cryptocurrencies. It is speculated that this move was made in attempt to stem captial flight from Iran.
  2. Security firm Red Canary reports that a botnet has infected at least a thousand computers with malware that mines Monero. The researchers believe the group responsible for the malware has been active since December 2019.

What is the Equihash mining algorithm?

Equihash is most commonly used to refer to Zcash’s (ZEC) POW algorithm, which can also be used to mine Komodo and Horizen. Equihash was introduced in 2016 by Alex Biryukov and Dmitry Khovratovich specifically as a memory hard POW algorithm that could be used to create ASIC resistant cryptocurrencies.

There are several variants of this algorithm distinguished by how it sets the “n” and “k” parameter of Equihash. ZCash sets n = 200 and k = 9. Other cryptocurrencies set the two value differently, such as BEAM which uses n = 150 and k = 5, Bitcoin Gold which uses n=144 and k=5, and AION which uses n=210 and k=9. For ease of reference, WariHash will refer to each Equihash variant by its most commonly mined coin (i.e, Equihash-Zcash, Equihash-BEAM).

The n and k parameters determine how much memory the algorithm uses and how long it takes to compute the solution. Thus, an ASIC optimized for one set of parameters cannot mine optimally on another set of parameters. The most common Equihash-Zcash ASIC miners, the Innosilicon A and the Bitmain Z series, can only mine Equihash-Zcash and no other variants.

What is the Scrypt mining algorithm?

Scrypt is the mining algorithm used to mine Litecoin (LTC). Scrypt was invented by Colin Percival in 2009 to be used as a memory hard cryptographic hash function. A “memory hard” function uses large amounts of memory in order to compute the end result. This hinders the development of custom hardware that can be used to brute force the function, commonly known as ASICs.

Scrypt was first used in Tenebrix in 2011, which Charlie Lee cloned to create Fairbrix. Both projects failed to gain any traction mostly due to their premine. Lee then created Litecoin as a response and the project has been a constant presence in the cryptocurrency scene since.

Along with Litecoin, Scrypt is also used to mine Dogecoin (merge mined with Litecoin), and Digibyte (in Digibyte Scrypt is one algo in a multi-algo POW system).

Although the initial goal of Scrypt was to hinder the development of ASICs, ASIC mining is now the norm and has been since around 2014. Currently, Bitmain’s L3 series is the most prevalent ASIC and much of Scrypt mining happens professionally alongside Bitcoin mining operations.

This Week in Mining: May 18th

This week’s updates are mild compared to last week’s halvening festivities. Here’s the latest:
  1. Bitcoin experienced a -6% network difficulty drop following the halving as unprofitable mining equipment was taken offline. Some believe that miners switched on older equipment leading up to the halving to make the most of the remaining days with a higher block subsidy.
  2. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard forked on May 15th. Their dev fund proposal, which had a small possibility of being activated at the time of the fork, is now all but dead.
  3. A Bitcoin mining reward from 2009, a month after the creation of Bitcoin, was moved for the first time. There was speculation that this could have been Satoshi, but analysis shows that this is most likely not the case. It’s impossible to say for sure, but the analysis of coins likely to be owned by Satoshi can be found here.

This Week in Mining: May 11th

Happy halvening week! Here’s what happened:
  1. The Bitcoin Halvening (Halving) – The third Bitcoin halving event occurred on the 11th of May at 19:23 UTC. Block 630,000 was mined by AntPool, ushering in the fourth Bitcoin epoch.
  2. F2Pool mined block 629,999 immediately before the halvening, adding a relevant homage to Satoshi’s original genesis block message: “NYTimes 09/Apr/2020 With $2.3T Injection, Fed’s Plan Far Exceeds 2008 Rescue”
  3. Lubian, a new Chinese mining pool, has grown to account for approximately 5.15% of the total Bitcoin hashrate in just three weeks. According to Dovey Wan of Primitive Ventures, this is likely a private pool that revealed itself publicly as the hashrate did not spike.