4

There may have been others, but at least Baikalminer[archive] and Bitmain[archive] launched Monero ASIC miners in 2018. It's worth noting Bitmain allowed people to buy the ASICs, but didn't actually ship them until after the Monero hardfork - meaning only Bitmain themselves were able to mine XMR on their own ASICs, and knowingly scammed their customers ...


2

Cryptonight really only exploited one particular feature of modern CPUs, fast cache access. When it was designed, it was thought ASICs would be at a significant disadvantage because of their general lack (at the time) of access to fast memory. It was also not imagined the ways in which ASIC manufacturers could overcome the memory constraints. RandomX ...


1

"Specialized nodes that act as middlemen" defeats the entire purpose of PoW, which is decentralization.


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