Intel will soon begin selling a chip that can mine Bitcoin, as it enters the digital transaction market.
According to the company, it will offer an energy-efficient accelerator that will allow cryptocurrency miners to mine. Argo Blockchain and BLOCK (formerly known under Square) will be among its first users. The International Solid-State Circuits Conference will provide details on the chip.
“This architecture is implemented using a small piece of silicon so it has minimal impact on the supply of current product,” said Raja Koduri , Intel’s Raja Koduri in a Friday letter.
This comment is intended to poke fun at the scarcity of graphics processors. Crypto miners are buying up supplies at high prices in order to increase their mining activity. AMD and Nvidia tried to decrease GPU hoarding. They both used software locks on certain cards to slow down mining activity, and dedicated hardware to digicash generators. This should allow regular kit to remain available for customers.
Koduri’s letter seems to have been written by a marketing professional and is filled with exhausting buzzwords such as ‘Web 3.0”metaverse’ ‘blockchain’ and ‘Moore’s Law. This allows us to democratize the access to an enormous pool of processing horsepower. Intel appears serious about this and wants to capitalize on the potential of blockchain, which is expected be the foundation for economic activity in a metaverse.
Microsoft and Meta, formerly Facebook, have made multi-billion-dollar bets on metaverse success. Games like Fortnite or Minecraft are early examples. There are also metaverse has-beens such as Second Life.
Koduri stated that more computing is needed to power the metaverse infrastructure. To fill this gap, Intel created the Custom Compute Group within Intel’s Accelerated Computing System and Graphics business unit.
Koduri stated that the team’s objective is to create custom silicon platforms that are optimized for customers’ workloads. This includes blockchain and other custom accelerated Supercomputing opportunities at edge.
Reports suggested last month that Intel would show off a Bitcoin mining ASIC dubbed Bonanza Min’ at the ISSCC. This ASIC can accelerate in hardware Bitcoin mining’s SHA256 algorithm. Koduri now has more details about the chip.
Koduri stated that he expects that his circuit innovations will produce a blockchain accelerator with over 1000x more performance per watt that mainstream GPUs for SHA256-based mining.
Blockchain is used to enable cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. It can also be used to track and record transactions in verticals such as manufacturing and real-estate. Although Intel might be trying to address the energy efficiency problem that plagues crypto mining hardware, a short-term focus on cashing in on the opportunity could backfire.
While hardware development for metaverse remains in its early stages of development, it focuses more on design and appearance such as computer vision and graphics interfaces, as well as communications infrastructure like edge processing and economics such digital currency and advertising.
Nvidia and Intel discussed using GPUs and accelerators for graphics and artificial intelligence applications such as natural language processing. In November Samsung and Inspur introduced an all flash PoseidonV2 storage system with Intel’s Sapphire Rapids chips. This could be modified for the metaverse at last year’s Open Compute Project conference.
On the other side, smaller chip companies such as Imagination Technologies are being cautious because the hardware requirements for the metaverse haven’t been clarified yet.