CryptoNight Mining: What Is It, and How Does It Work? (Updated)



  • CryptoNight is a GPU and CPU-friendly mining algorithm that challenges the dominance of ASIC devices. By employing privacy technologies, it ensures the anonymity of transactions.
  • Despite its innovation, it faced limitations like fairness challenges, memory intensity, and susceptibility to ASICs.

With Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) dominating crypto mining technology, CryptoNight offers a great alternative. Is it a worthy solution for fair and cost-effective mining? Can it disrupt the market and discourage miners and developers from using other tools?

In this guide, we’ll try to shed light on these questions. Read on to discover the idea behind CryptoNight, how it operates, and which digital currencies have adopted it. 

Explore its standout features and uncover potential drawbacks to understand its value better.

What is CryptoNight Mining Algorithm?

Mining algorithms serve as the rules that ensure transaction safety and accuracy. These algorithms guide miners’ devices to create valid blocks and secure the network.

In mining, these algorithms engage with various equipment types:

  • Central Processing Units (CPUs) 
  • Graphics Processing Units (GPUs)
  • Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs)
  • And more.

When an algorithm adapts to equipment specifics, everyone in the crypto project can take part easily and conveniently.

The mining algorithm visualized
The mining algorithm visualized.

CryptoNight is a mining algorithm introduced in 2013 as part of the CryptoNote suite. Unlike most of its counterparts, it aims to resist the dominance of ASICs. With CryptoNight, regular CPU and GPU hardware can join the action.

Focused on development and giving everyone a fair chance to mine cryptocurrency, it has grown and adapted over time. But, with ASICs still mining crypto more efficiently, it’s been facing challenges along the way.

CryptoNight Standout Features 

Privacy and Security

CryptoNight relies on the military-grade security system called Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). It also incorporates two important privacy technologies by the Monero team:

  1. Ring signatures: Blends the actual signer with equal non-signers, concealing the true signer in a transaction.
  2. Stealth addresses: Employs random one-time addresses to ensure untraceable transactions.


Next, CryptoNight is notable for its scalability. It can speed up transactions by increasing its processing power. Furthermore, it helps to achieve greater stability and involves less heat generated by computers.

Execution time of Ethash, CryptoNight, and Scrypt.
Execution time of Ethash, CryptoNight, and Scrypt.

ASIC Resistance

Along with enhanced privacy network security and scalability, CryptoNight focuses on mining decentralization. To make it happen, it intentionally undermines the dominance of ASICs in the following ways:

  • RAM Constraints: It calls for memory access per mining instance, favoring CPUs and GPUs and hindering ASIC efficiency.
  • Latency Dependency: Each new block depends on all previous blocks, which is unsuitable for ASICs.
  • CPU-Friendly Scratchpad: It adapts data to match Intel CPU caches, giving CPUs an edge over GPUs and ASICs.

Potential Limitations of CryptoNight

While met with enthusiasm, CryptoNight’s core idea faced challenges during its implementation:

  • Faded Fairness: Originally meant for everyone, CryptoNight now favors those with specialized hardware.
  • Memory Intensity: The mining can turn out to be expensive due to the memory-intensive work involved.
  • ASIC Challenge: Over time, ASIC devices adapted to using CryptoNight effectively.
  • Lack of Peer Review: CryptoNight lacks a history of thorough review, which can pose security risks.
  • CPU Vulnerabilities: The use of specific CPU instructions like AES can expose it to side attacks and vulnerabilities.

Cryptos Working on the CryptoNight Algorithm

Top CryptoNight Coins by market capitalization.
Top CryptoNight Coins by market capitalization.

Here are some notable virtual currencies that have adopted the CryptoNight algorithm:

  • Monero (XMR): Monero, one of the early supporters of CryptoNight, implemented CryptoNight as its proof-of-work in 2014. Over time, it developed CryptoNight-R to disrupt compatibility with existing ASICs.
  • Bytecoin (BCN): Bytecoin was also among the first to adopt the CryptoNight algorithm. The developers decided to integrate ASIC mining in 2018.
  • HYCON (HYC): HYCON employs the CryptoNight v7 algorithm. According to the project’s whitepaper, the developers chose it due to its higher ASIC resistance.
  • Dero (DERO): Dero uses the original CryptoNight algorithm despite considering Monero’s RandomX algorithm. Concerns about security and dependencies on chip producers led Dero to stick with CryptoNight.
  • Electroneum (ETN): After adopting CryptoNight, Electroneum has been switching between its different versions. The solutions put on test included CryptoNight v7 and the original CryptoNight hashing algorithm.

How To Mine CryptoNight Coins: 4 Ways Available

Based on the equipment used, there are four distinct approaches to mining CryptoNight coins.

CPU vs GPU in crypto mining.
CPU vs GPU in crypto mining.

1. CPU Mining

CPU mining enables you to mine these coins using your computer or even your mobile phone. Such accessibility makes mining using this method suitable for newbies. But keep in mind that profits are generally low.

2. GPU Mining

You need to buy a dedicated graphics card for GPU mining, which can be a costly investment. Still, GPU mining offers better efficiency and the potential for profitability.

3. ASIC Mining 

ASIC mining relies on specialized hardware designed for mining. It comes with a higher price tag as one of the most efficient mining methods. Plus, it works with CryptoNight Classic only.

4. Cloud Mining 

For cloud mining, you need to buy a subscription from large-scale mining equipment providers. While this method is surely convenient, its potential profitability is questionable. Furthermore, cloud mining can be susceptible to scams.

CryptoNight Workflow 

Designed with mining accessibility in mind, CryptoNight works well with both the CPU and the GPU. 64-bit multipliers make it fast and memory-efficient. 

The CryptoNight workflow.
The CryptoNight workflow.

Let’s see how CryptoNight works, step by step.

1. The Beginning of Hashing

CryptoNight begins its operation by setting up the workspace. Your computer prepares a special storage area filled with random data. It uses a part of this data to create a secure key that will keep everything safe.

2. AES Key Creation and Keccak Hash Encryption 

In the next step, CryptoNight creates a powerful encryption key from data – the process known as Keccak. This key acts like a super-secure password and is a crucial system part. 

The process involves several rounds of encryption to make it rock-solid. Upon its completion, the data is ready in the workspace for the final step.

3. Finalization of Hashing

In the last step, CryptoNight processes the prepared data using mathematical operations. Then, it generates a unique 64-character hash – the output of the hash algorithm is the CryptoNight proof-of-work.


CryptoNight offers an innovative approach to fair mining, yet it faces challenges. Its value as an algorithm may vary based on individual setups. For some, it can be a convenient and memory-effective mining solution, while in other settings, it can be underperforming. 

Before sticking with CryptoNight, it’s essential to account for your setting. Miners need to consider their equipment and the efficiency they can count on. Project developers should align with their goals, like transaction speed and security.