With several thousand cryptocurrencies in existence right now, it is not surprising to learn a lot of coins use different mining algorithms. Whereas bitcoin uses SHA-256, other coins may use the likes of X11, Keccak, or Scrypt-N. All of these algorithms have their own benefits and requirements to keep mining competitive. Below are some of the different mining algorithms to be found today, and how they compare to one another.
Quite a few different alternative cryptocurrencies make use of the Scrypt mining algorithm. Scrypt was initially designed to make it costly to perform large-scale custom hardware attacks, as it requires large amounts of memory. However, cryptocurrencies such as Tenebrix and Litecoin use a simplified version of Scrypt Even though this may be a simplified version, the mining process still requires significant computing memory resources.
Even though the introduction of Scrypt meant dedicating bitcoin mining hardware – known as ASICs – could not be used, it did not take long for companies to start producing Scrypt ASICs. Moreover, powerful AMD graphics cards are more than capable of mining the Scrypt algorithm, even though they will draw a lot of electricity while doing so. Over the past few years, several hundred altcoins using the Scrypt algorithm have popped up, including the aforementioned Litecoin and Dogecoin, to name a few.
It is worth noting there are other Scrypt mining algorithms, including Scrypt-N and Scrypt-Jane, each of which adds their own unique flavor. Scrypt-N for example, changes the memory requirement of the algorithm every set amount of time, this way even if ASICs are developed for the algorithm, a few years later they become obsolete as the “N” changes and creates the need for different circuits in order to mine the hashes. Furthermore, there is also the Scrypt-OG algorithm, which is 8 times less memory-intensive than Scrypt. In fact, the term “OG” stand for “Optimized for GPU”.
A new mining algorithm started to make some waves in the altcoin community in the year 2014. X11, as this algorithm is called uses 11 different rounds of hashes (hence the 11), was well received due to this incredibly energy-efficiency while mining with a GPU or CPU. This algorithm is also capable of keeping mining hardware a lot cooler as there is a lower requirement for processing power. This effectiveness also translated into lower operation costs due to less electricity being used. Moreover, X11 prevented the use of existing ASICS – in 2014 – which allowed anyone with a semi-decent computer to mine X11-based cryptocurrencies.
Unfortunately, the X11 algorithm did not prove to be ASIC-resistant for too long. Especially once popular cryptocurrency Dash – also known as XCoin and Darkcoin – embraced X11, it was only a matter of time until the first ASICs came to fruition. PinIdea and Baikal are two types of X11 ASIC miners which have become very common these days.Even though X11 ASICs have become more common, the algorithm remains a secure solution for cryptocurrency developers looking to thwart brute-force attacks.
It is worth mentioning the next iterations of this algorithm which are X13, X14, X15, and X17. As you might have guesses, X13 contains 13 rounds of hashes, X15 contains 15, and so forth. Through our research the highest X algorithm we found was X17 which was introduced back in 2014. Essentially if you look at the hash function below you will see the 17 hash functions that make up the X17 algorithm. It may seem like overkill – which it is – but new altcoins love boasting the fact that they use new algorithms in order to generate more profit and hype for the crypto.
The SHA-256 algorithm is used to mine bitcoin, generating new addresses on the network and support the network through proof-of-work. It is worth noting SHA-256 is part of the SHA-2 cryptographic hash function initially designed by the NSA. In the early days of bitcoin mining, it was feasible to use a powerful CPU. Once the mining software was modified to support graphic cards, GPUs became the new preferred form of mining hardware. Eventually, FPGAs and ASICs took over.
By making use of these application-specific integrated circuits, mining bitcoin has become a very expensive process. These machines require a lot of electricity, even though they have become more energy-efficient as of late. A different iteration of SHA-256, which goes by the name of SHA-256D, was conceived as well, which serves as a double SHA-256 cryptographic hashing algorithm
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