ZCash Surges 13% Over One Week, Turns ProgPow?
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Nov. 7, 2018

Zcash cryptocurrency (ZEC/USD) that is famous for its anonymity has gained more than 13% over the week with a 5% growth only for the last 24 hours and is currently trading at $130. Such the rapid growth is likely to be due to the Grant Program for Q2 coming to an end. Started in April 2018, Zcash foundation has realized the call for proposals “that support both the Mission and Values of the Zcash Foundation.” All the projects should “maintain an open process and—if applicable—will release code as open source.” The projects for the final submissions were accepted before July 15, and recently the spokesperson for the Zcash Foundation has announced the projects that are moving to the last round. The jury is set to name the winners till the end of this week.

Researchers Found Weakness in Zcash

What is the Grants Program?

The Zcash Foundation was created in August 2017 by Zcash developers to promote the upgrowth of their own cryptocurrency. It runs the Grants Program twice a year, accepting the proposals on the main topics for the Zcash community. The foundation's grant review committee is led by Eran Tromer, an associate professor of Computer Science at Tel Aviv University, a research scientist at Columbia University, as well as a founding scientist at Zcash. The board also includes five other cryptographic specialists. This years' first grant’s fund contains an amount of $250.000 with $125,000 funded by the Zcash Foundation and $125,000 funded by the Blockchain Institute. The money is going to be distributed among the winners of the pitched projects. Authors of non-trivial ideas that are interesting from the point of view of the Zcash project’s long-term development can apply for the grant. Applications are usually accepted through the GitHub website.

What are the projects?

In total, the foundation has received 41 proposals on various areas of implementation, with only 14 reaching the final stage. Full list of the projects presented before the jury can be found here. The most discussed and of a current interest became the case of a “ProgPoW: A programmatic (dynamic) Proof-of-Work algorithm tuned for commodity hardware” submitted by the pseudo-anonymous team 'ifdefelse'.

In the explanatory speech of their project, the team pointed to the urgent problem of specialized ASICs. The mining equipment concentrated in mining pools is becoming the point of concerns for the users, who are no longer able to mine through GPU and are afraid that such pools are killing the actual decentralization of blockchain, which stands behind all cryptos.

Bitmain Announces Release of Zcash ASIC Miner

Recall that in May 2017, Bitmain, the leading ASIC mining manufacturer has released Antminer Z9 mini, a new mining hardware product dedicated to the Equihash algorithm, used by the cryptocurrency Zcash, ZenCash, ZClassic, Hush, Komodo, and MinexCoin.

The team has proposed an “algorithm that is tuned for commodity GPUs where there is minimal opportunity for ASIC specialization. This prevents specialized ASICs without resorting to a game of whack-a-mole where the network changes algorithms every few months.”

Suggesting a new hash algorithm to be implemented instead of the current Equihash, ‘ifdefelse’ team points that it will be “permanently resistant to domination” by ASICs miners “and avoid further PoW code forks”.

The project caused debates but what’s important it attracted the jury’s attention.

“While not all committee members believe the notion of ASIC-resistance is an important one to cryptocurrencies, the committee gave submissions related to proof-of-work and ASIC-resistance the benefit of the doubt, judging these submissions under the assumption that the Zcash community is interested in ASIC-resistant developments,” said the committee.

Ethereum Drops ASIC Miners in Constantinople Hardfork?

Ethereum’s developer Vlad Zamfir introduced the topic of ProgPoW and suggested it be implemented into Ethereum’s blockchain in May this year. At the meeting for Ethereum developers held at the end of September, the head of the Security Foundation Martin Holst Swende supported the idea to amend the PoW-algorithm designed to block the work of ASIC-mining in the network. Ethash, the algorithm used by Ethereum and Ethereum Classic along with a variety of other coins, was also ASIC-resistant before Bitmain has presented its miner in May.

Vitalik Buterin Proposes to Scale Ethereum Via Zcash Technology

However, Ethereum team has decided to take a different path and during the Ethereum Foundation Devcon IV Conference held a week ago in Prague has announced a Beacon Chain – a complete PoS. As soon as the “beacon” will be launched, the role of the PoW miners will significantly decrease, as well as the size of their reward. Later on, the PoW chain will be completely eliminated, but, according to Buterin, this is a question for the distant future, so the miners will be active for a while.

The Song of Ethereum 2.0 Serenity, What Will It Bring?

As for the future of Zcash, the committee has recommended the project for the funding as they:

“believe that the suggested prototype integration of ProgPoW with the Zcash code base will significantly further the ongoing discussion of potential PoW changes in ZCash, by demonstrating the technical feasibility, identifying difficulties, enabling experimentation with dynamics of hardness adjustment under various loads, and also -- should ProgPoW be chosen for future Zcash network upgrades -- reducing the time for developing that upgrade.”

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