What Is Altcoin
Altcoins are cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin. The majority of altcoins are forks of Bitcoin with small uninteresting changes. This page categorises different ways altcoins have modified Bitcoin.
The PoW algorithm used for mining Bitcoin is SHA2. It was chosen because it is fast to verify and has been critically analyzed. SHA2 has had ASICs developed for it meaning there is a much smaller risk of centralization. The following mining algorithms are being used in different altcoins:
Scrypt proof of work
Combination of hashing algorithms in series (e.g. X11)
Combination of hashing algorithms in parallel (e.g. Myriad algorithm)
The problem with having an algorithm that is “easy to mine with” (referring to the ability to CPU or GPU mine profitably) is that mining should be hard in order to secure the network. When a mining algorithm is difficult to make ASICs for, there is a higher barrier to entry. A high barrier to entry increases the time that the first group to create ASICs will monopolize the market (and the time the network is vulnerable to a 51% attack from a single source). Many argue that the creators or the developers could simply change the mining algorithm when an ASIC is developed, but this defeats the purpose of decentralized consensus by causing centralization.
If these cryptocurrencies do have a healthy number of companies producing ASICs and have avoided centralization, they still are using algorithms that take longer to verify than SHA2. Therefore, at best a cryptocurrencies with merely a hashing algorithm change are as good as an exact clone of Bitcoin and not better (however since Bitcoin already exists, an exact clone of Bitcoin has no innovation or value). If the hashing algorithm is slower, as most altcoin algorithms are, it is a disadvantage because it takes more processing time to validate a block and increases the number of organic re-orgs (makes it easier to double spend).
What Is Altcoin Conclusion
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