Riccardo Spagni, the lead developer of Monero, opined on whether Monero [XMR] was currently more decentralized than Bitcoin [BTC], during an interview with Monero Talk. This argument was put forth after taking into consideration the fact that Bitcoin was purely ASIC mined, in a market where only a handful of manufacturers produced the ASICs and big mining pools ran those ASICs.
Spagni began the discussion by stating that he was “hesitant” to say that Monero was more decentralized than Bitcoin. He also pointed out the fact that despite a lot of ASIC manufacturers being in China, there were several others across the globe producing “interesting things to a greater or lesser degree,” which were “quite promising.” He added,
“[…] as 7nm ASICs come out, I think we’re going to come up against the performance wall very quickly. So, manufacturers will not be able to present new equipment that have massive gains because they’ll all be manufacturing on roughly the same level and the jump from 7nm to 5nm is massive and that’s many many years away[…]”
FluffyPony also stated that Bitcoin miners were spread out around the world, adding that mining was previously dominated by Chinese miners. It has since decreased owing to a “big scare” about the government placing a ban on it, he said. Spagni further stated that at present, there were large mining farms in the United States, Europe, and particularly, Sweden, Norway, Greenland, and Iceland.
Spagni stressed on the relative increase in the number of mining farms in places with cheap power and “where the weather plays its part.” He added that this was, on the contrary, not the case with Saharan Africa, South Africa, or Australia as these places did not have a combination of the factors required for mining. He said,
[…] frankly, there’s a limited number of countries where you can build an efficient mining farm; partly because you need reasonably good internet access, you need weather that is predominantly cool or at least cool for some months of the year, you need access to cheap power.”
This was followed by Spagni stating that mining would be dominated by large mining farms, regardless of whether its ASIC mining or GPU mining. He stated that these farms would exist in roughly 30-40 countries, adding that this was “how mining was going to be centralized in the future and will continue to.”
Spagni then stated that Monero was on the same track as that of Bitcoin. He said that people often forget that CPU and GPU mining “appears to be egalitarian” in terms of “reward size.” However, as the value of Monero increases, the potential reward for miners also increases, and this in turn will lead to professional miners stepping into the market, resulting in “small home users crowded out.” He said,
“[…] you really have are like highly competitive large-scale farms you know that are competing against each other and then a couple of kids and dorm rooms that are abusing the free electricity and that’s your mining component. And I think that’s where Bitcoin has gone and honestly ASICs help with that […]”
He went on to state that the reason for this was that it would be easier to build an industrial-class ASIC, than creating an industrial level mining computer. He added,
[…] It’s easy to cool them you know you can do all sorts of fancy things like you can buy a container filled with Asics to mine Bitcoin you dropped the container down wherever plugging power plug it, in turn, it off you go and they exist right now you can go buy them […]”
Spagni clarified that this was not the case with GPU mining yet, adding that it was not “quite the economies of scale,” as with ASICs. Nevertheless, FluffyPony stated that GPU mining would reach the same level as ASICs if Monero continued to gain in value. He stated,
“[…] we’ve seen massive improvements in industrialization of GPUs for Ethereum mining because Ethereum mining has been so profitable. So, you know, if Monero mining has the potential to be that profitable, we’re gonna see exactly the same thing happen.”
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