Proof-of-Work, or mining, is the process of verifying the latest transactions and creating new blocks for a blockchain. Miners who distribute processing power are rewarded with new coins for their work. The process traditionally has required large amounts of expensive special purpose computers that provide much more computing power than a regular desktop personal computer. However, scientists at the University of Luxembourg's Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) have developed an algorithm called "Equihash" that allows for coins to be mined on a standard PC.
According to Dr. Dmitry Khovratovich, one of the co-developers of Equihash, the algorithm lets desktop computers participate in the mining process by not allowing the workload to be split into smaller working packages. As a result, coins can be more efficiently mined on standard PCs that use multiple processing cores and gigabytes of memory than on specialized hardware chips. This allows for more miners to contribute in the Proof-of-Work process. As explained by Dr. Khovratovich, competing with more miners makes for a more lucrative pay-out to participants.
"If 10.000 miners, [each] with a single PC[,] were active in Zcash[,] the investment to compete with them would be 10.000 times the price of a PC, while with bitcoin, the investment would be significantly smaller."
Dr. Khovratovich believes Equihash is a solution that discourages monopolization of the mining process and creates a more democratic digital currency by allowing increased participation in the mining process. He adds:
"The strength of a cryptocurrency comes from the fact that the ledger is globally distributed. Our Equihash algorithm reverses the situation back to this more ideal world."
"Since Equihash is based on a fundamental computer science problem, advances in Equihash mining algorithms will benefit computer science in general. Equihash is so far unique among all the mining algorithms: it is memory-hard on the one hand and very easy to verify on the other."
The creators of Zcash, recognizing the algorithm's benefits, have chosen Equihash as its algorithm for mining coins and verifying transfers. According to Prof. Björn Ottersten, SnT´s director, "With our contribution to Zcash, the Cryptography and Security lab (CryptoLux) has shown its strength in innovative research that has immediate applications in the financial technology industry."
According to the press release, however, "Equihash itself is not limited to use in Zcash and can be used in any cryptocurrency."
It is unknown at this time if any cryptocurrencies besides Zcash will be utilizing the Equihash algorithm. However, ETHNews will follow up on any and all new developments associated with Equihash.