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Popular privacy-centric cryptocurrency, Monero (XMR), was hard-forked earlier today at block height 1,546,000 as an anti-ASIC software update was rolled out to prevent network centralization.

The update, which changes the XMR proof-of-work consensus protocol to reject ASIC mining hardware, led to a significant drop in hash rate across major Monero mining pools. For instance, the SupportXMR pool’s hashrate went from 51 MH/s to 17 MH/s at the time of the fork, and has now increased to 23.64 MH/s.

With the update, it is natural for the hashrate to drop until miners update their software, but the significant drop led some in the community to speculate whether ASIC hardware manufacturer Bitmain was mining Monero privately over the last few months.

Interestingly, when it comes to mining pools, only about a quarter of those mining Monero are publicly known, leaving a large chunk of hashing power coming from unknown sources. These are believed to be botnets and possibly ASIC miners, which may have fallen off the grid with this new update.

Monero Classic Anyone?

Then we have Monero Classic, which has ‘declared sovereignty’ and rejects Monero’s new anti-ASIC direction, terming it even more dangerous than the threat of ASIC-led centralization.

According to their official website:

“Around 80% of the current Monero hash rate agrees with our stance and refuses to follow the POW change. That is why we declare in advance that we will maintain the original software which follows the original rules. We reject centralised developer Control and we believe that’s voluntary participation for both users and miners Will uphold the principles of decentralisation.”

Monero Classic’s proponents claim that by changing the POW algorithm, the Monero developers have exhibited unilateral control.

Support for Monero’s Anti-ASIC Stance

However, Monero’s anti-ASIC stance has found support in Blockstream CSO, Samson Mow and Litecoin creator Charlie Lee.

While Lee called Monero Classic a scam, Mow praised Monero for setting a precedent in the fight against ASIC-led centralization.

Even though this is not the first time Monero has been forked (it’s the 7th), this time the anti-ASIC stance is causing more issues, and it remains to be seen which direction the community and the miners support.