Mining cryptocurrencies is an activity thousands of people engage in. In recent years, however, most of them have overlooked one crucial aspect of this model.
It is certainly possible to mine multiple cryptocurrencies at the same time. This concept is known as merged mining, and can help secure multiple blockchains in one swoop.
Merged Mining in a Nutshell
The concept of merged mining is fairly easy to explain. It gives users an option to mine different cryptocurrencies at the same time, without any major tweaks. All one needs to do is find a pool supporting this option. There are quite a few offerings in this regard, but more on that later.
To merge mine different cryptocurrencies, certain conditions need to be met. All currencies need to adhere to the same mining algorithm. This can be SHA-256, Skein, Groestl, Scrypt, X11, and so forth. For example, one can merge mine Namecoin and Bitcoin, but not Bitcoin and Litecoin.
When engaging in merged mining, the hashrate provided by the user is not “halved”. This is a common misconception where this type of activity is concerned. Instead, miners will try to solve blocks on different blockchains concurrently.
All of the work done on one blockchain – e.g. Bitcoin – is leveraged as valid work on a similar chain – e.g. Namecoin. This process is known as AuxPow, or Auxiliary Proof of Work.
Not all currencies are suitable for merged mining, however. It is up to developers of individual coins to integrate this functionality. To date, the number of supported currencies remains fairly limited. It is possible that this situation will improve in the future.
One reason why few coins implement AuxPoW support is due to security concerns. More specifically, a chain with a low hashrate could entice miners to act dishonestly. Although that seems unlikely to happen, it is a concern that cannot be ignored either.
There are several ways to go about getting involved in merged mining. On Poolin, it is possible to merge mine Dogecoin, Namecoin, and VCash. Dogecoin, as a Scrypt-based currency, can be mined together with Litecoin. Namecoin, which is SHA-256, is accessible when mining Bitcoin. Vcash can be obtained through the mining of Bitcoin, Bitcoin SV, and Bitcoin Cash.
On Multipool, there are plenty of options available. Merge-minable SHA-256 coins are Myriadcoin (Through its SHA-256 algorithm), Namecoin, Syscoin, and Terracoin. These can be mined alongside Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin Cash, Peercoin, Auroracoin (through its SHA-256 algorithm), and DigiByte. Especially the option of mining both DGB and SYS is interesting, albeit not the most profitable at this time.
Still on Multipool, Scrypt miners will earn additional Dogecoin and Viacoin when putting their hardware to work. Supported mineable Scrypt currencies include ArtByte, AuroraCoin, DigiByte (scrypt), GameCredits, Litecoin, Lynx, and Gulden. A very interesting collection to choose from.
Last but not least, there is the X11 merged mining section on Multipool. Users will automatically earn Unitus (UIS) while mining CannabisCoin, Dash, MonetaryUnit, PACcoin, or Startcoin.
These are just some examples, as many different mining pools allow for merged mining in one way or another.
An Option Worth Exploring
No one ever says no to receiving more coins for doing the same amount of work. When mining Bitcoin, being able to get some Namecoin and VCash is an extra bonus. The same applies for all other possible combinations available through these pools right now.
The big question is how mining pools will look at this option moving forward. It is in their best interest to offer merged mining functionality. However, not all of them do so at this time.