The developers of Grin, a recently launched privacy-focused cryptocurrency, are reportedly considering making changes to the coin’s current hard fork upgrade roadmap.
One of the main goals of hard forking the Grin protocol is to ensure that the mining process remains as decentralized as possible. John Tromp, a leading Grin developer who created the cryptocurrency’s proof-of-work (PoW)-based mining algorithm, called Cuckoo Cycle, has recommended that certain modifications be made to the coin’s codebase.
Tromp, whose recent suggestions came during a bi-weekly meeting with Grin’s other core developers, noted:
The announcement of single chip ASICs for [Cuckatoo-31] has undermined our phase out schedule… which looks like it won’t be able to serve its original intended purpose of thwarting single chip ASICs in the foreseeable future.
Hard Fork Set For July 2019
Grin’s next hard fork has been scheduled for July 2019 and the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency’s developers and its community will be voting on whether to move forward with the updates to Grin’s code in the next two weeks.
Notably, the cost of acquiring high-end ASICs is relatively high when compared to other mining hardware equipment. In order to make mining Grin more affordable and accessible to a larger group of users - thus making it more decentralized - the crypto’s developers will be discussing various strategies.
When Grin was first introduced, its creators planned to prevent miners from leveraging the “first-mover advantage” by using powerful ASICs. The crypto’s developers aimed to foster “healthy competition” by allowing miners with GPUs to also have a fair chance at mining Grin.
Transitioning To A Different Mining Algorithm
In order to make the Grin platform ASIC-resistant, its developers have decided to hard fork the cryptocurrency every 6 months. Moreover, Grin’s development team will be making gradual modifications to its mining algorithm for the next two years. These progressive changes are also intended to help keep mining on the network as decentralized as possible.
Analysts have argued that periodic changes to Grin’s protocol may not be a long-term viable solution to prevent mining centralization. It now appears Grin’s developers have come to an agreement that the privacy-focused coin will eventually transition to an “ASIC-friendly” version of the PoW-based Cuckoo Cycle, known as “Cuckatoo31+.”
This particular approach has been taken so that ASIC manufacturers have an adequate amount of time to develop hardware that will help keep mining decentralized on Grin’s network.
Ensuring Long-Term Decentralization
Currently, around 80% of blocks generated on the Grin network have been mined using the ASIC-resistant version of Cuckoo Cycle, referred to as Cuckaroo29. This seems to suggest the initial strategy proposed by Grin’s developers, which is to ensure long-term decentralization of mining, is not happening according to their plans.
The remaining 20% of blocks on the Grin network are reportedly being mined using the Cuckatoo31+ algorithm. Daniel Lehnberg, one of the main contributors to the Grin protocol, has estimated that mining using Cuckatoo-31 will likely end around August 19, 2020. In the next phase, Cuckatoo-32 will be used to mine blocks on Grin’s network. This will reportedly lead to about 55% of Grin’s blocks being mined via Cuckatoo31+.
Focused On Preventing ASIC Monopolies
Following this phase, the mining stage involving Cuckatoo-33 is expected to begin - sometime around 2023. This particular phase will mark the transition to another phase where all blocks on Grin will be mined using the Cuckatoo31+ algorithm.
However, analysts believe the present phase transitioning schedule could potentially result in technical issues. According to Tromp’s assessment, the current schedule should be postponed - while another Grin developer has argued that “it will almost guarantee there will be an [ASIC] monopoly at [Cuckatoo-32].” Notably, this is precisely what Grin’s developers have been focused on preventing.
In statements shared with CoinDesk, a Grin developer noted:
We’ve demonstrated with our single-chip [Cuckatoo-31] miner that multi-chip designs are not competitive, and if the phase-out is not delayed, we will be producing a [Cuckatoo-32] single-chip design as well.
Cuckatoo-32 Will Be "Expensive And Difficult To Develop"
He further stated that the current Cuckatoo-32 protocol “will be expensive and difficult [to develop] and will make competing very difficult. We believe that the mining ecosystem for Grin would be better if it stayed at [Cuckatoo-31], where costs are lower and it’s easier for new competitors to get involved.”
Meanwhile, Tromp said:
Any change to [Cuckatoo31+] cannot take effect until at least 18 months into the future, unless agreed upon by all affected parties. I’m proposing to proceed with more caution, to take a wait and see approach. But also to keep our commitment for the next 18 months as ASIC manufacturers must be able to rely on that for investment decisions.