Ravencoin October 1st, 2019 fork FAQ

What is the Ravencoin fork?

Ravencoin changes algorithms at 16:00 UTC on October 1st to an updated version of X16R called X16Rv2. The intention of the algorithm change is to attempt to prevent continued ASIC mining on the Ravencoin network, and to discourage future ASIC development of Ravencoin's mining algorithm.

Why is Ravencoin changing algorithms?

The original Ravencoin whitepaper stated that one of the primary aims of the Ravencoin project was to "prevent...future dominance by ASIC mining equipment." People invested their resources into Ravencoin based on this premise, among other premises. For much of 2019 some experienced miners gave voice to concerns that ASICs were secretly mining on the network, most evidenced by a growing number of blocks being mined by unknown addresses. On July 14th, the user standarderror (who collaborated with Traysi on both the development of the Electrum desktop client and Ledger hardware support for Ravencoin) posted a detailed analysis presenting proof of centralization of hashpower on the Ravencoin network.

This evidence was sufficient proof to prompt the Ravencoin team (both inside and outside Medici) to begin strategizing what should be done about these revelations. Lengthy conversations were had in the Ravencoin discord group, and a decision was made to extend X16R into a second version. The hope is that after the new version is adopted, all the existing ASICs will no longer be able to mine Ravencoin. Whether that outcome will be successfully realized will not be fully known until some time after the fork occurs.

Will I earn more RVN from mining after the fork?

Assuming the ASICs are successfully repelled from the network, yes. The higher the hash on a network, the more spread out the rewards are. If ASICs are mining with 80% of the network hashrate, then they are taking 80% of the rewards, leaving the meager remainder for those who are mining with GPUs and FPGAs. If all ASICs are removed from the network, then all the rewards go to the miners who remain. Having said that, the loss of the ASICs will drive difficulty down rapidly, which will cause Ravencoin profitability to increase, which will bring in additional GPU miners back onto the network. That will in turn drive difficulty higher again, which will reduce the profits to all miners. This is standard behavior of all Proof of Work blockchains. It would be a very successful outcome if more GPU miners return to Ravencoin.

As a miner, what do I need to do to prepare for the fork?

Yes, first make sure you are running a version of t-rex 0.14.4 or better. You can get that right here.

After you have upgraded your miner software, you can update your cmd/bat/script file to instruct it to automatically switch algorithms at the right time. You would do this by adding a special flag --fork-at to the launch line of your script.

For example, if your launch line looks like:
t-rex -a x16r -o stratum+tcp://us.rvn.minermore.com:4501 -u username.worker -p x

Then you will change it to:
t-rex -a x16r --fork-at x16rv2=2019-10-01T16:00:00 -o stratum+tcp://us.rvn.minermore.com:4501 -u username.worker -p x
Then restart your miner and it should take care of everything for you at that point. Note that the port on the pool must remain the same for this to work. At MinerMore we will be keeping the port numbers the same, so the above technique will work on the pool here.

On October 1st what do I need to do?

Assuming you are already mining Ravencoin and you updated your connect line as prescribed above, there should be nothing else for you to do for mining. If you did not change your bat script, you will need to manually stop mining at 1600 UTC on Oct 1st and update your script to change the "-a x16r" to "-a x16rv2" and then reconnect. If you are running a desktop wallet, you will also need to update that in order to stay on the right chain. Just make sure you are using at least version 2.5.1 of Ravencoin. Assuming all goes well, around 1600 UTC on October 1st the new algo will come into effect and we will start mining with the new algo. For a brief window of time, it is possible that both algos may be mining the network blocks, but that will quickly give way to 100% X16Rv2 hashing. If network hashrate plunges substantially, it may take additional time for the network to find the first few blocks after the fork.

Is there an AMD miner program available yet?

Wildrig is supposedly going to be adding support for AMD cards but as of Sep 23rd this support has not yet been added. AMD miners can use TeamRedMiner which has already added the algo.

Until X16Rv2 is added to an AMD miner, only NVIDIA cards will be able to GPU mine Ravencoin.

Please provide some background on the X16Rv2 algorithm

The original X16R algorithm is a chain of 16 different hashing algos. As miners hash different nonces looking for the next blockhash, they actually run each nonce through 16 different randonly selected algorithms. The determination of which 16 algos to use is determined by the last 16 nibbles of the previous blockhash. X16Rv2 is extended to include an additional algorithm, called tiger192, to be added before three of the 16 algos. This means that almost all blocks will contain tiger192, which is an algo that is not currently present in X16R. This means that for a future ASIC to support X16Rv2 it would need to add in tiger192 into the mix in several places.

The tiger192 algo was chosen because it is relatively easy to integrate and has been successfully used in X21S, which is the algorithm that was developed for Ritocoin. X16Rv2 was collaboratively developed by Blondfrogs and Traysi. The full source code to X16Rv2 is available via Traysi's github.

What about FPGAs?

Tron has always seemed to hold the position that FPGAs are not a threat to the Ravencoin network, and made the decision to support their presence on the network. Most of the known FPGAs mine at MinerMore and are friendly and helpful collaborators in the Ravencoin community. FPGAs do not have a substantial advantage over GPUs and we believe that their presence on the network does not harm our desire for a decentralized network that GPUs can profitably mine.

What is ahead for Ravencoin? Are we going to fork to yet another algorithm at some point in the future?

The current fork to X16Rv2 is considered a somewhat temporary measure to get the ASICs off the network immediately. Discussions are already well underway as to what kind of hashing algorithm we will move to next. This conversations are occurring both privately and publicly, mostly through discord, and we invite all interested parties to join in the discussion and contribute their thoughts. Traysi envisions another fork sometime in the year 2020 that will provide a much longer lasting ASIC resistance.

I have more questions that were not addressed here.

Traysi and others are happy to answer any other questions you have. Please join the Ravencoin and MinerMore groups and ask away.