HashCore: Proof-of-Work Functions for General Purpose Processors

Yanni Georghiades, Steven Flolid, Sriram Vishwanath

Over the past five years, the rewards associated with mining Proof-of-Work blockchains have increased substantially. As a result, miners are heavily incentivized to design and utilize Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) that can compute hashes far more efficiently than existing general purpose hardware. Currently, it is difficult for most users to purchase and operate ASICs due to pricing and availability constraints, resulting in a relatively small number of miners with respect to total user base for most popular cryptocurrencies. In this work, we aim to invert the problem of ASIC development by constructing a Proof-of-Work function for which an existing general purpose processor (GPP, such as an x86 IC) is already an optimized ASIC. In doing so, we will ensure that any would-be miner either already owns an ASIC for the Proof-of-Work system they wish to participate in or can attain one at a competitive price with relative ease. In order to achieve this, we present HashCore, a Proof-of-Work function composed of "widgets" generated pseudo-randomly at runtime that each execute a sequence of general purpose processor instructions designed to stress the computational resources of such a GPP. The widgets will be modeled after workloads that GPPs have been optimized for, for example, the SPEC CPU 2017 benchmark suite for x86 ICs, in a technique we refer to as inverted benchmarking. We provide a proof that HashCore is collision-resistant regardless of how the widgets are implemented. We observe that GPP designers/developers essentially create an ASIC for benchmarks such as SPEC CPU 2017. By modeling HashCore after such benchmarks, we create a Proof-of-Work function that can be run most efficiently on a GPP, resulting in a more accessible, competitive, and balanced mining market.

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