Beam, the privacy coin on the Mimblewimble protocol, has completed its first hard fork. The token, which hit exchanges in January of this year, performed the split at block height 321321 with the primary aim of ensuring that it could not be mined by powerful ASIC miners, which would have a major advantage over regular GPU miners. Using a modified version of Equihash (150,5) proof-of-work mining algorithm, Beam was the second cryptocurrency on the Mimbewimble network after Grin.
No ASICs Allowed
Beam’s move from the BeamHash I mining algorithm to BeamHash II ensures that the project stays one step ahead of the ASIC miners in the cat and mouse game that has plagued coins like Monero for years. ASICs are purpose-built crypto mining machines that are magnitudes more powerful than GPU miners, which has lead to many miners trying to use ASIC machines to mine GPU-only coins in order to dominate the less powerful mining pool and rack up the coins. Not only does the BeamHash II protocol protect against this, it is also 30% more efficient than its predecessor, as well as adding Laser Beam (Lightning Network version in Beam).
Mimblewimble’s New Approach
Beam is built on the privacy-focused Mimblewimble blockchain, a relative newcomer on the scene that also offers users increased security thanks to the masking of user addresses and the amount being sent. These ‘Confidential Transactions’ rely on the party at each end resolving equations, which they can do using the keys that are provided by the network. This is akin to being given a car and being asked to drive to a certain point to deliver a message – the sender and recipient are given keys by the network which allows them to start the car and drive off. Even if a hacker were able to gain access to the same car on their computer, they would first have to find the keys, which could be hidden anywhere, by which time the user has driven off, arrived, completed the transaction, and driven back to put the kettle on and put their feet up.