How long does it take for a cryptocurrency to respond to an ASIC?

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7 months ago

I am looking for information on the time it takes for a cryptocurrency network to respond to an ASIC or Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. I understand ASICs are specialized hardware used in mining certain kinds of cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin. If I am not wrong, the presence of an ASIC can affect a cryptocurrency’s network and trigger some kind of response. How long does this typically take? Would it be almost instantaneous or does it take several hours?

Moreover, I’ve heard about “ASIC-resistant” cryptocurrencies which are supposedly able to repel the influence of such hardware to maintain network fairness. Is this response immediate or is there a delay as well? If there is a delay, how significant is it? Any insights would be appreciated to figure out these aspects which I find quite intriguing.

Answers:

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7 months ago

In response to your queries, it’s necessary to clarify that cryptocurrencies themselves don’t exactly “respond” to ASICs in real-time. The impact of ASICs is more indirect. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that are not resistant to ASICs will have their hash power, and therefore their network stability, gradually increase as more ASICs begin mining the coin. It’s not a matter of hours or minutes, but rather how quickly new ASIC miners are added to the network, which could take days or even weeks.

Talking about ‘ASIC-resistant’ cryptocurrencies, these are designed to be resistant to ASICs from the start – They employ algorithms which are memory heavy or need wide computation resources, thereby reducing the effectiveness of ASIC mining. This doesn’t mean they respond to an ASIC; instead, they are inherently designed to discourage the use of ASICs. If an ASIC is designed that can effectively mine an ASIC-resistant coin, the developers may choose to modify the coin’s mining algorithm, which again would be a process that takes time, not something that happens instantly. So, it’s not about a delay, but rather about the process and algorithms involved.

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7 months ago

Just to piggyback off ‘thabo59’s excellent explanation, I’d add that the response of a cryptocurrency to ASIC mining can be viewed from the changes in the mining difficulty. The introduction of ASICs can lead to a rapid increase in hash power, which causes the difficulty of mining to go up as a safeguard to ensure block times remain consistent. This adjustment isn’t instantaneous and is typically done at certain intervals, often every 2,016 blocks for Bitcoin.

I personally mine an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency and can confirm there’s no real-time response to ASICs. These cryptocurrencies utilize algorithms like Scrypt or Ethash that require substantial memory, making them inefficient for ASICs. It’s more of a pre-emptive measure rather than a reactive one. The goal is to keep the mining process democratic, allowing people who cannot afford expensive ASIC rigs to still participate in the mining process.

Submerge, have you considered the impact on energy consumption when talking about ASICs? While they’re efficient for mining, they’re notorious for their high energy usage, which can be a significant downside. How do you view this in terms of overall sustainability in the crypto space?

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