This term usually applies to blockchains and mining algorithms, designed to give no benefit for ASICs over consumer grade hardware.
Bitcoin ASIC miners these days have a million times better performance than a desktop PC, rendering the latter completely useless in modern day mining. Moreover, since most of the hashpower eventually got located in a few gargantuan mining pools, situated in regions with access to cheap electricity and favorable legal conditions, PC mining isa thing of the past for most cryptocurrencies.
Here comes the idea of ASIC resistance. In theory, an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency is more fairly distributed because it can be mined on regular consumer PCs. This should guarantee that more people can participate in the mining — as a result, there’s no ASIC arms race, leaving the regular folk sidelined and the mining process stays less capital-intensive in general. Such a network will more likely be decentralized and geographically distributed. It does not guarantee that gigantic mining farms near hydropower dams will not emerge, but it makes sure that they can not dominate the field entirely.
ASIC-resistant solutions focus on decisive governance and, of course, theright mining algorithm. It should by design prevent the creation ASICs or at least give them no benefit over consumer PC hardware. The specific technical approaches include algorithm variability for each mining block (such as x16r, which quite soon got ASIC’ed), increased memory demand (such as Scrypt and Ethash) or even focusing the mining on the storage volume like Chia.
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