The development update addressed a recurring question among altcoins that can currently be mined profitably with GPU hardware and how to respond to the threat that a mining rig manufacturer will develop an ASIC miner built to mine Cryptonight.
The Monero developers are going to protect the network’s ASIC resistance by modifying its PoW algorithm at a scheduled hard fork. The hard fork occurs two times per year. The XMR users will not notice these changes. The changes will alter the network’s hashing algorithm that Cryptonight ASIC miners will have to follow every fork.
However, if these scheduled PoW forks will not be enough to disincentivize the development of ASIC miners for Cryptonight, Monero will modify PoW algorithm at a nonscheduled fork in order to prevent any potential threat from ASICs.
According to the development update, this stance will ensure that Monero mining remains relatively democratic and decentralized at least until such time the same can be said of the ASIC mining industry. The developers believe that any transition to an ASIC-dominated network needs to be as egalitarian as possible in order to foster decentralization.
Currently, the ASIC market is dominated by Chinese manufacturer Bitmain. It means that it would be simple for governments to force companies like this to build “kill switches” into the miners or sell rigs to customers who obtain special government licenses. By contrast, GPU miners rely on general-purpose computer chips. It makes regulator’s attempt to force miners to acquire government-issued licenses impossible.
The first PoW adjustment will be implemented at the network’s next hard fork, which is currently scheduled for March.