Intel confirmed rumours about launching a new powerful ASIC that could be much faster than the hardware produced by its direct competitors.
Intel takes on the ASICs market
The rumours are out.
A recent post on ‘Tom’s Hardware’, a computer hardware-focused blog, has made the argument that Intel may be pursuing a new Bitcoin ASIC. The speculation is mainly based on a patent the company filed for an optimised SHA-256 datapath in 2018. Also, Intel executives have recently been more outspoken about considering the company’s entry into the ASICs race.
Last week, Intel confirmed as much in its announcement of a new energy-efficient and extremely fast ASIC for Bitcoin mining. The product claims to be 1000X faster than its rivals and will be available to customers later this year. In its official release, Raja M. Koduri, the company’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Accelerated Computing System and Graphics Group, said the following:
“Today, we at Intel are declaring our intent to contribute to the development of blockchain technologies, with a roadmap of energy-efficient accelerators. Intel will engage and promote an open and secure blockchain ecosystem and will help advance this technology in a responsible and sustainable way.”
Koduri is promising that its circuit innovations will have “1000x better performance per watt than mainstream GPUs for SHA-256 based mining.”
Reactions were positive, with Square, the company of former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, announcing that it would be among the first customers of the new processor chip.
Possible impacts on the mining landscape
This should be music in the ears of Bitcoin miners, as the industry is undergoing a major shift following the ban of Bitcoin mining in China. The United States has taken over as the main mining hub for Bitcoin, boasting more than a third of the network’s global hash rate. Kazakhstan and Russia follow in second and third place. However, miners should be delighted by better hardware, as the increasing environmental FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) the industry faces will likely only increase.
Although some countries – Kazakhstan being the prime example – have (sometimes grudgingly) welcomed and endorsed mining, the US is still undecided whether mining is a boon or a bane. On the one hand, Bitcoin miners could have a beneficial impact on the stability of the power grid and make use of the excess supply of energy in a way other industries cannot – flare gas being the prime example. On the other hand, the industry has its work cut out when it comes to explaining its benefits, as environmental lobby groups do not take kindly to Bitcoin mining.
With the Biden administration preparing an executive order on cryptocurrencies, we will likely see a new impulse set to the US mining industry soon. More powerful hardware, which effectively translates into more energy-efficient mining, will be a good argument for miners to convince lawmakers of more lenient regulation, it’s just about making them listen.