Grin, the community-led implementation of the Mimblewimble blockchain, was launched earlier this year on the 15th January. Unusually, it came free of ICO, pre-mine or founder’s reward – in fact its developers are volunteers and it has a 100% community-driven funding model.
It has gained some high-profile backers within the crypto community already.
The administrator of BitcoinTalk, Theymos, said in a forum post:
I’m super excited about grin … it’s clearly built in the same cypherpunk spirit that Bitcoin was: increased freedom/sovereignty through technology.
As a result, Grin has become only the second cryptocurrency after Bitcoin to be accepted as payment for services on BitcoinTalk.
However, it’s difficult to mine – and confusing too. Unlike most cryptocurrencies, Grin has two proof of work (PoW) algorithms which are designed to be memory latency-bound and not compute-bound like the SHA256 hash function used to mine Bitcoin. Grin states that they’ve designed the PoW systems with the aim of using less power and being less susceptible to “Bitcoin style hardware arms-races”.
There are two initial “Cuckoo Cycle” PoW algorithms used by Grin. One has been designated “AR” or ASIC-Resistant, the other “AF” or ASIC-Friendly. The confusion in Grin mining lies in the fact that both can be mined on GPUs right now – and only GPUs, the ASICs haven’t been manufactured yet.
The AR PoW algorithm is called Cuckaroo29. It requires less RAM to execute and is expected to fork every few months to keep one step ahead of the ASICs. However, it has a limited life. It is expected to be phased out in two years.
Cuckatoo31 on the other hand is meant to be ASIC-friendly in the long term, but right now it can only be mined on high-specification graphics cards because of its high memory requirements.
It’s these memory requirements that are making ASICs for Cuckatoo31 difficult to manufacture. To be profitable, the ASICs require huge amounts of expensive low-latency SRAM on the chips – which leads to expensive miners. Grin ASICs won’t be cheap – one, Obelisk, expects its Grin miners to cost $6,000. Plus, if GPUs continue evolving, it’s possible the ASICs won’t be worth their cost, especially as new PoW algorithms are already planned.
Cuckatoo32, the next Grin PoW mining algorithm that’s penned for some time in 2020, will require GPUs with even more RAM – perhaps beyond the limit of consumer GPUs. This could change the dynamic back towards ASICs.
With these complexities and nuances, it’s not surprising that Grin mining has been limited to specialist miners – until now.
Cudo releases the first Grin GUI miner
With Cudo Miner‘s latest news announcement, you don’t need to spend the time at the command line figuring it out either. As Matt Hawkins, the Cudo Miner CEO, said: “Our goal is to make it as simple and reliable as possible to mine Mimblewimble crypto currencies, so GPU miners can run their rigs and farms without sleepless nights, worrying about lost revenue and configuration.”