Proof-of-Work Algorithm Change

The core development team has observed the fact that the network hash rate has climbed substantially over the last few weeks. Luckily, the hashrate has remained rather decentralized and balanced over the large number of pools that the community operates. However, the significant increase in hashrate has made it more difficult for the project to meet one of its core goals. To remain mineable for everyone. After careful consideration, we believe it’s once again time to perform a soft fork to a new Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm.

Such a change is not taken lightly, and we’ve given considerable thought to where the project should go in this regard. We’ve seen a few networks using CryptoNight Soft Shell variants with success. Although considerable work has been done to support Soft Shell pools and the like we’re not quite ready to move over to Soft Shell just yet.

You’re probably asking yourself, “So what’s the plan?”

Supported PoW Algorithms

If you’ve read through the TurtleCoin fork guide, forked TurtleCoin yourself, or have read through the code, the next few statements are going to come to no surprise to you.

We like to collect PoW algorithms like they are pogs. The more you have, the more fun you’re having with your friends.

Keeping this in mind, TurtleCoin currently has built-in support for no less than twelve (12) different PoW algorithms. Yes, you read that right, twelve.

They are, in no particular order:

  • CryptoNight v0
  • CryptoNight v1
  • CryptoNight v2
  • CryptoNight Lite v0
  • CryptoNight Lite v1
  • CryptoNight Lite v2
  • CryptoNight Turtle v0
  • CryptoNight Turtle v1
  • CryptoNight Turtle v2
  • CryptoNight Soft Shell v0
  • CryptoNight Soft Shell v1
  • CryptoNight Soft Shell v2

Woah, Wait, What’s CryptoNight Turtle?

To put it mildly, CryptoNight Turtle is a tweak to the standard CryptoNight family that significantly increases the speed at which hashes can be computed. This is accomplished in two ways.

Iteration Change

We’re dropping the iteration count in fourth as well. From 524,288 iterations to 131,072 iterations. This will result in the base hashrate increasing for every miner.

Scratch Pad Change

We’re dropping the scratch pad size in fouth. From 1MB (CN Lite) to 256KB. Why? because we want to make everything go faster and when we’re dropping the iteration count, we need to make sure that the scratchpad is used effectively to prevent some interesting attack vectors.

Faster? Doesn’t That Mean an Even Higher Network Hash Rate?

It sure does! There’s a reason for what appears to be chaos and we’re just getting to the good part.

TurtleCoin Major Block v5

As you’re likely thinking, “This doesn’t sound better, no, no, these guys are crazy…”

Block Major version 5 is planned to activate CryptoNight Turtle v2. That’s right, variant 2. Those of you following other projects using v2 likely know that there is a performance penalty incurred by variant 2 hashing. We’ve personally seen a performance hit of anywhere from 12% to 45% on some hardware. We think that’s unacceptable; however, we do like the premise behind variant 2.

To balance the performance impact of variant 2 out, we’re going to hash faster with CryptoNight Turtle. The two effectively cancel each other out and we gain the benefit of soft forking away from potential ASIC/FPGA/etc. miners. As a matter of fact, you’ll see a hashrate increase on your miner(s) because of the move to CryptoNight Turtle.

The move to variant 2 will help strengthen TurtleCoin’s ASIC/FPGA resistance. Future PoW changes will also be designed to further strengthen the project’s ASIC/FPGA resistance to try to keep TurtleCoin mineable for everyone.

Doing Your Part

We’re confident that we have the core code ready for the soft fork to CN Turtle tentatively scheduled for block 1,200,000. The main pool software has been updated to support it as well as the underlying Node.js Hashing Library and the Node.js Cryptonote Library have been updated.

There’s still work to be done and any community assistance is, as always, appreciated.

Test Network

We’ll need help from the community to test this algorithm change to try to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. The more people that are involved, the easier it is to spot issues.

Miner Support

We’re working on adding support to common miner projects to support this change including:

Miner software needs support added before we can fully test the update pool deployments. If you want to give us a hand in getting that support completed, join us on discord at http://chat.turtlecoin.lol in #dev_general.

Alternative Pools

The pool software changes need ported to the other pools that the community service operators use on a daily basis. If you are familiar with one of the following pools, your assistance is appreciated in this regard.

Upgrades

As always, be mindful of TurtleCoin core releases. Watch or star the main TurtleCoin repo to help stay abreast of changes and updates. Join Discord and read the #announcements on a regular basis. Or, sign up for the @news role by typing *news in the chat and be alerted whenever a new announcement is posted in Discord.

Make sure you’re ready for the soft fork as early as possible.

As with any soft fork, if and when the fork occurs, prior versions of the software will no longer be compatible with the rest of the network after soft fork completion.

What’s Next?

We’re already putting thought into the next PoW algorithm change after v5. Those discussions will be a different article, so as always, stay tuned.

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