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Giant chip manufacturer Intel appears set to enter the Bitcoin mining ASIC market with its new chip, to compete with Bitmain.
Leading chip manufacturer Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) reportedly looks to unveil a new specialized Bitcoin mining chip at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) next month. However, other details – especially regarding how the chip will be presented – still remain unclear.
Titled “Bonanza Mine: An Ultra-Low-Voltage Energy-Efficient Bitcoin Mining ASIC,” the chip release session takes place on February 23rd. Intel touched on its imminent Bitcoin mining ASIC in a recent media session:
“Intel has done design work around SHA-256 optimized ASICs for several years beginning with pathfinding work done in Intel Labs. We will share more details in the future.”
Notwithstanding, Intel venturing into the crypto-mining hardware business implies that the chipmaker could soon compete with Bitmain for specialized BTC mining ASICs. Furthermore, another notable company that Intel may also go up against for application-specific integrated circuit market share, is MicroBT.
Intel has relatively good odds of thriving in the Bitcoin hardware market. This is due to the giant chip maker’s wealth of experience in hardware-assisted SHA-256 algorithms. The cryptographic hash functions set are prominent in central processing unit (CPU) products. Another comparative advantage that Intel seemingly wields – going into this market, is its silicon production capabilities. This is even more apparent especially given the focus on low-power, high-efficiency operation.
Intel Previously Hinted at Bitcoin-mining Hardware
In December last year, the senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) group, Raja Koduri, first teased the development. In a live stream, Koduri explained that the giant chip maker was working on a dedicated chip for crypto mining. According to Koduri, the available graphics processing units (GPUs) do not have the working advantage to efficiently execute such tasks. As the top-level Intel executive put it:
“GPUs will do graphics, gaming, and all those wonderful things, but being able to do much more efficient blockchain validation at a much lower cost, much lower power, is a pretty solvable problem. And you know, we are working on that…”
At the time, Koduri also stated that Intel planned to share some more information on the project’s hardware sooner or later. However, Intel previously said that it does not plan to add crypto mining limitations to its graphics cards.
Bitcoin mining typically takes place on ASICs – specialized processors specifically designed to execute one type of workload. ASICs gave efficiency and performance advantages over more complex chips – including CPUs and GPUs. Both chips are mostly capable of executing the same tasks as ASICs, but at greater performance costs.
Emergence of Mining in Digital Currencies
Crypto mining has been on a steady rise over the past several months due to the surging popularity of digital currencies. This trend has also caused a lot of “effect” complications for the governments of some countries such as China. In addition, the demand for and prices of graphics processing units are also sky-high due to crypto mining. This is something that other users of the hardware – especially gamers, are not particularly happy about.