In looking at different Alt Coins, it seems like many of the popular ones were made in an attempt to be GPU hostile, e.g. by using the Scrypt algorithm. That algorithm is very memory intensive, so it would be more costly to use FPGAs or ASICs, and GPUs don't get as much of an edge; however, that approach seems doomed to fail. Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but if there is a strong enough economy in any cryptocurrency, someone will make an ASIC to do it eventually if it is technologically feasible.
Given that, is it reasonable to make an Alt Coin that uses functions already implemented in hardware, such that the time to develop the ASIC has essentially already been spent? For example, I know that some Intel processors have AES-256 built into them. Could a block chain be built off of this in essentially the same way that Bitcoin uses SHA or Litecoin uses Scrypt?
Assuming that it is feasible, I see some pros and cons. On the plus side, miners would have a good, energy efficient use of their CPUs without worrying that people will get a huge portion of the hashing power by using GPUs, FPGAs, or ASICs; I think that the strength of the network lies in the ease of average users contributing to its strength. On the downside, though, is the fact that this would be another
Alt Coin, which would need time for actual adoption. Also, older CPUs would be almost useless--anything not supporting the specific instruction(s) required would be SOL. This may also apply to individuals using CPUs from the other team--(e.g. an instruciton supported by only AMD or only Intel).
To put into perspective the benefit of dedicated hardware in a CPU, check out the graph here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/clarkdale-aes-ni-encryption,2538-5.html
Graph is about half way down the page. I was looking for a different one, but this illustrates it nicely. A processor that was outmatched in most arithmetic operations by a factor of about 2 outstripped the i7-870 by a factor of more than 6 when doing a hardware-accelerated task.