Did Bitmain Cause a Spike in Monero’s Hashrate Last Year?

Not too long ago, Bitmain unveiled its new Antminer X3 ASIC miner. This particular device will let users mine CryptoNight-capable currencies at a higher than normal pace. One currency notably absent from the list of coins to be mined is Monero, as its developers introduced an emergency hard fork to address this problem well in advance. All of this makes one wonder how long Bitmain has been using the new ASIC.

The Use Cases for Bitmain’s X3 ASIC

While it is evident there are plenty of CryptoNight cryptocurrencies on the market today, most people would buy the Antminer X3 to mine Monero. Out of all the CryptoNight coins, Monero has the most appeal, the most solid technology, and the highest value. So far, it seems very unlikely anyone will actually mine XMR with the new Antminer X3, as the currency’s algorithm was modified to counter ASIC threats.

More specifically, the Monero developers have announced a solution to counter the impending threat posed by the Antminer X3. A change to the mining algorithm will be made in the near future, which will render this ASIC miner completely obsolete. Although that decision may not be to the liking of most people, it is evident the Monero team simply wants to ensure ASIC miners have no place in this particular ecosystem. It is a smart decision, as ASIC mining will only lead to further mining centralization, just like we see with Bitcoin right now.

While this is not exactly new knowledge, it does raise a few interesting questions. The biggest one is why Bitmain only now released this new ASIC miner, as there are rumors that the company has been mining Monero for some time now. As the units can be shipped out instantly, it is evident the company has had this hardware in its possession for quite some time. It is safe to assume they at least tried to mine some of the CryptoNight currencies with it themselves.

Given the vast price discrepancy between the first and second batch of these miners, it is evident Bitmain is trying to liquidate these miners as quickly as possible. That only further fuels speculation that Bitmain has been mining Monero and other CryptoNight coins for some time, and that they are now reaching the point at which the profitability is not sufficient to keep this activity going. The company is selling mining units which will become obsolete pretty soon, which is not exactly a smart move.

Some speculators even claim the Bitmain X3 ASIC miner has been around since the summer of 2017. At that time, we saw a massive spike in Monero’s hashing power, which was allegedly caused by botnets all over the world. At the same time, one has to wonder if that would even be possible. It is true several botnets have been discovered which all mine Monero, yet they are not even remotely large enough in size to make any meaningful long-term impact.

Whether or not Bitmain will sell a lot of these X3 units remains to be seen. As of right now, it seems safe to assume they will not make a lot of extra profit from selling these miners. That doesn’t mean the company needs to write off the X3 as a net loss, though. Assuming they have mined CryptoNight coins for nearly nine months, the units will have probably quickly paid for themselves. It is doubtful we will ever know the full story behind the X3 miner, but there is always more to these developments than meets the eye.