About

This page aims to provide some more information about the NERVA project and answer common (non-technical) questions. For help using the NERVA software, refer to the Guides section. You can also read more about the project on the main website, and join our growing community on Discord, Telegram and Reddit.

What is NERVA?

"Proof-of-work is essentially one-CPU-one-vote" - Satoshi Nakamoto

NERVA (XNV) is a pioneering proof-of-work cryptocurrency designed first and foremost to be truly GPU and FPGA/ASIC resistant. This means that NERVA can be mined competitively by standard computer processors - like the one in the device you're using to read this text. With the Cryptonight Adaptive PoW algorithm, NERVA aims to force miners to keep a local copy of the blockchain, incentivizing miners to run full network nodes which can meaningfully participate in consensus. This structure encourages solo mining, and helps avoid the hashrate centralisation that plagues pool-mined coins. By engineering the network to be as decentralised as possible, NERVA is naturally resistant to 51% attacks, and this resistance will only strengthen as the network scales. NERVA aims to take crypto back to its roots - away from corporatisation and huge mining farms, and back to the people - whilst incorporating the latest advancements in blockchain technology that allow for a fast, secure, private and untraceable financial network.

Another unique attribute of NERVA is the accelerated emission schedule. NERVA launched in May 2018 and already the majority of the coin supply has been distributed to miners. All 18.4 million coins will be mined within 3 years. After this, like Monero and many other blockchains, a 1% annual tail emission (inflation) will exist to incentivise further mining. Unlike Monero, NERVA will be the first project to validate - or discredit - the reasoning behind this economic model, and by reaching tail emission first, NERVA will be both a test case and a prominent example of how to manage that vital transition.

Finally, NERVA is fostering a strong community of likeminded enthusiasts, and you're invited to join. In time, we hope that NERVA will gain further traction and visibility in the crowded field of cryptocurrencies. While many projects rely on hype and marketing, we're focused on providing the tools for individuals and businesses to integrate NERVA into their services and accept XNV as an alternative payment solution, leveraging the benefits of our fast and stable blockchain. In the end, we may succeed or fail, but NERVA is leading by example in demonstrating the viability of a purer vision of cryptocurrency: a currency of, by and for its users, where anybody with a CPU and an internet connection can actively contrbute to and secure the network, with no centralised entities and no compromises.

Motivations

(Extracts from "CN Adaptive, Nerva, and the Quest For Fair Mining", an interview with NERVA lead developer angrywasp)

Decentralization

Centralization is a major concern for all coins and the consequences are many. Giving too much hash power to an individual or pool increases the risk of a 51% attack, where a blockchain can be hijacked and manipulated for malicious purposes, but it also increases the fragility of a network. If a pool holding for example 65% of a network hashrate goes down, the network instantly loses 65% of it’s hash power, struggling to validate transactions and progress the blockchain. This results in increased transaction times and difficulty in making transactions, causing a loss of reputation to the coin and frustration to end users.

Centralization of hash power also causes the concentration of coin distribution. The vast majority of Cryptonight ASICs are operated by only a few companies in the business of making these devices. As a result, coins mined by ASICs are funneling the vast majority of their block rewards to only a small group of people, effectively centralizing price and distribution control and promoting cartel like behavior among these individuals.

NERVAs model of solo CPU mining maximizes hashrate distribution, making it much more difficult for any one entity to obtain the 51% threshold to stage an attack against the coin, while minimizing the network disruption caused by nodes going off the network. Distributed hashrate also has the added advantage of more equitable coin distribution creating a fairer system for all participants.

Environmental Sustainability

E-waste has in very recent times become a major global concern as a source of pollution and adverse health effects in humans and wildlife. From the mining of heavy metals such as copper, to PCB and component manufacturing processes, to device assembly, pollution is present. Furthermore, the incorrect disposal of electronics results in heavy metal contamination to local environments and adverse health effects to the wildlife in these environments, as well as adverse health effects on the people responsible for the production and disposal of electronics.

Through NERVAs ability to be mined on older hardware and by removing the ability of dedicated hardware to mine the coin, NERVA mitigates the issue of E-waste. Furthermore, scaling up hashing power in a CPU mined coin is more expensive, creating a financial disincentive for users to buy hardware specifically to mine NERVA, further mitigating the impact of E-waste on the environment.

Anyone looking at the evolution of crypto mining over the last few years will have noticed an explosion in the amount of hardware being used for mining. GPUs are sold out around the world and ASICs are being rolled out in increasing batches. This is creating an endless cycle of buying more hashpower to compete with other miners for coins. Besides the E-Waste considerations previously discussed, we are seeing an explosion in the amount of electricity being used to power these networks. It is estimated that Bitcoin for example uses more electricity than the entire Republic of Ireland. That is far from sustainable. NERVA is intended to be mined on the spare cores of your computer. I am mining blocks right now while writing this, with only a minimal increase in the amount of electricity being used by a computer that would otherwise already be running anyway.

The Spirit of Satoshi

It is worth remembering why crypto was developed in the first place. The driving force was to create a currency that could be used by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Across borders, free from taxes, government regulation and monetary policy. Here in Australia, we are currently having a royal commission into the unethical behavior of major banks and financial services. What people have been thinking all along, that banks are deceiving and stealing from the public, has been proven to be true, so we need something else as a society. We need a way to transact with each other that bypasses the greed and corruption of the banking sector, and a way to manage our own money that no government or corporation can lay their hands on.

Somewhere along the way, that vision was lost. Again, corrupted by greed and held at the mercy of an elite few. Only this time it isn’t governments and bankers, it’s wealthy ASIC manufacturers and rented hash services. Hijacking blockchains, stealing coins and controlling their price and distribution through excessive hash rates, well beyond what the average person is capable of. Once again, we have a select few corporations making massive profits acting in unethical ways to deceive and steal from the public.

With NERVA, our aim is to take back control and show that a coin is successful if it is owned by everyone. And by making it a CPU minable coin, we give everyone who owns a computer a chance to collect their own NERVA. A coin dedicated to existing in the same spirit which crypto was developed in the first place.

Finally, there is some conventional wisdom NERVA aims to challenge and some lingering questions regarding the longevity of crypto that need to be answered if crypto is to have any future at all. It is said that a coin needs a large hashrate to be stable. I don’t believe that. I believe that a stable coin comes from a highly distributed network and mitigation of network hashrate variance, by means of a robust difficulty adjustment algorithm and resistance to dedicated mining hardware. NERVA aims to test this wisdom. Monero, and by extension all Monero clones, also have a limited lifespan for mining. This is variable, depending on the emission parameters of the coin, but the fact is that every Cryptonote coin is on a ticking clock. One day, the Proof of Work will be done and the entire coin supply will be emitted. At which point the coin enters its ‘tail emission’ where only a very small proportion of the coins original block reward is released to maintain some inflationary measure to the coin and replace coins lost in the network.

So if conventional wisdom dictates that block rewards keep miners incentivised to mine, and a blockchain needs miners to even operate, then what happens when those block rewards are gone? Nobody really actually knows how the wider public will respond to that, because no Cryptonote coin has yet exhausted it’s emission.

From a market and coin value perspective, what happens to the value of a coin once the selling pressure applied by miners is gone? Again, we just don’t know. But we need to know. Mining a coin is only part of the coin’s life. We need to be able to peek through that looking glass and see what’s on the other side. NERVAs emission is very fast. NERVA will hit the tail emission in about 3 years from the first block, around 1 May 2021. This will make NERVA one of the first test cases to how coins make that transition and what is to be expected in the life after mining.

Technical Specifications

NERVA forked from Monero and had its genesis block on May 1st, 2018. The official NERVA blockchain explorer can be found here. Additional network statistics are available on Freeboard and the Nodemap.

Premine

A premine of 180,000 coins was included in the genesis block. Additionally, each of the 3 seed nodes in place at launch were each mining on 1 CPU core as a temporary measure to establish the network. The first 200 blocks were mined, bringing the total funds in the dev wallet to 193,861 XNV. This results in a premine of slightly over 1% of the total supply (pre tail emission).

The premine is to finance the infrastructure to run the network for the years to come. These funds will support the coin by paying for exchange listings where required, server costs to maintain the seed nodes and provide bonuses and incentives to miners to support the network.

CryptoNight-Adaptive

The CryptoNight-Adaptive algorithm was developed for NERVA. The idea is quite simple: create a hash algorithm that changes automatically at regular intervals to break support for ASICS, mining pools, and GPU software, making solo-mining with a daemon and wallet the most efficient viable option. The initial release was based on the Monero v7 algorithm, with a few changes. First, the scratchpad was halved, like CryptoNight Lite. Second, we adapted the ASIC resistant changes from Alloy (XAO) which changes the number of mixing iterations every block. The number of mixing iterations is automatically incremented every block and reset every 1024 blocks.

Many improvements have been made since NERVA launched, through several hard forks. A technical overview of an early version of CryptoNight-Adaptive, version 2, is available here, and is also discussed in the aforementioned interview with angrywasp. These resources are not up to date with the latest improvements, so if you have questions the best place to ask is in the development channel in Discord.

Solo Mining

NERVA prioritises decentralisation, to which pools are antithetical. Many pool-mined coins are vulnerable to 51% attacks, and pool operators hold excessive influence on the wider network. To avoid these problems, NERVA has sought from day one to be solo mined only.

With solo mining, miner rewards are not as consistent as they often are with pools - depending on hashrate and difficulty, a miner may go unrewarded for an extended period of time. However, as pool rewards are still based on the percentage of hash power contributed, in the long run miners actually earn more from solo mining, due to lack of pool fees. Another potential upside to solo mining is that it incentivises consistent, rather than on/off, mining. This can help to limit sudden swings in the overall network hashrate. Regardless, our primary motivation is to avoid centralization.

It should be noted that whilst it is difficult by design to develop a pool for NERVA, it is not impossible. Should a pool be developed in the future, the community and developer consensus is that a hardfork would then occur to make it ineffectual.

For more information about mining, refer to the Mining FAQ.

Pond Mining (proposed)

Pond Mining is a concept developed by the NERVA community for a peer-to-peer version of pool mining, which would avoid the centralization inherent in traditional mining pools. A whitepaper explaining the proposed system was published by community member Nithronium in November 2018.

Pond Mining remains an area of interest but is not currently under active development.

Hard Forks

NERVA is a project under constant development. Sometimes, improvements require changes to the core network consensus algorithms; such changes are known as "hard forks". Hard forks occur on older networks, such as Ethereum and Monero, as well as newer ones, like NERVA. By design, hard forks make older software incompatible with newer software. To prevent senseless interference, in addition to consensus-based node banning, NERVA uses optimistic version blocking: every new hard fork version blocks versions prior to the fork.

Will I lose my coins after a hard fork? No, there is no need for concern. A hard fork simply upgrades a part of the network software. As soon as you upgrade you will be able to transact again with your account.

Does a hard fork mean that I will get extra coins, like "Nerva Classic" or "Nerva ABC"? Technically, your coins still exist on the old chain for as long as (unupdated) nodes are mining it. But no, there is still only one main chain. Hard forks in NERVA do not create chain splits, there is just NERVA.

What if I sent coins after a hard fork, but didn't upgrade? Your transaction should be rejected in the upgraded network, returning the funds to your wallet. Once you upgrade to the latest software, you will need to rescan the blockchain from scratch, which will cause your wallet reflect the state of the upgraded network. To rescan the blockchain, simply restore your wallet from a seed phrase.

Will the exchange support this hard fork? Yes. The developers are in close communication with every exchange that currently lists NERVA. Scheduled forks are communicated well in advance to exchanges to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Previous Hard Forks

Here is a summarised history of NERVA network upgrades. More detailed release notes for each were published in Discord.

Commerce

A WooCommerce integration has been developed which allows for online stores to accept payment in NERVA. There are two variants available, woo-static and woo-dynamic. Documentation for both is available on BitBucket.

If you would like to integrate NERVA as a payment solution or have other suggestions, please join us in the commerce channel on Discord.