Grin Is Hard Forking Every Six Months to Keep ASICs Off the Network


The Grin community is trying to keep ASICs away – but only for the next two years. Best known for implementing MimbleWimble, which refactors and in turn, improves both the privacy and scalability of its blockchain,  the developers of Grin recently released a technical roadmap that looks to keep the powerful mining hardware from being used on its network.

The plan includes changing the cryptocurrency’s proof-of-work algorithm every six months, a move that would mean system-wide upgrades or hard forks each time.

While powerful, ASICs can only focus on one algorithm, and so changing the algorithm consistently would quickly make the ASICs created for one algorithm out-dated, again and again. That said, hard forks have proven contentious for various crypto communities, with the possible outcome of community division being a blockchain split.

According to Grin’s pseudonymous lead developer Igno Peverell:

“What we’re worried about is our early years and the potential first-mover advantage that would come with an ASIC manufacturer producing rigs ready on our first day. This would lead to an extremely centralized mining market.”

Critics see ASICs as a centralizing force, not only because the expensive technology typically outpaces individual GPU miners, making the network group into just a few mining pools, but also because, currently, just one company, Bitmain, produces nearly all the cryptocurrency mining ASICs.

While some cryptocurrency projects are trying to oust the hardware altogether, other communities are going head-to-head with the Chinese mining giant, hoping to create some competition. Grin, on the other hand, only cares about limiting their use on its network in the short-term.

“I think what’s interesting for everyone to realize, and that was maybe not true yet a year ago, is that ASICs have essentially won,” Peverell said.

But still, Peverell thinks allowing ASICs to take over the mining market immediately after Grin’s launch – which is expected by the end of the year – could set the cryptocurrency project back.

And so he and other Grin developers are hoping to buy some time, for a time when there’s a more competitive ASICs market.