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Intel Announces Blockchain Accelerator Chip: World’s First Custom Chip For Crypto Mining?

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Intel Blockchain Accelerator is the first custom chip from the company designed for crypto mining. Intel says that the custom chip that it has developed can offer 1000x better performance per watt than mainstream GPUs on tasks like SHA-256 based mining. The company will share more information on the Intel Blockchain Accelerator chip at the upcoming Solid-State Circuit Conference (ISSCC).

Intel Announces Blockchain Accelerator Chip

Do note that, SHA-256 based mining is not done on consumer-grade GPUs, instead, it is used on ASICs (custom-made chips) which are specifically designed for mining a specific cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies like Ethereum uses different mining technique. This means the upcoming Intel Blockchain Accelerator Chip might not be able to mine some of the trending cryptocurrencies.

One of the main issues of the current ASICs is the fact that they consume a lot of power while mining and Intel seem to solve that specific issue with their upcoming custom chip for blockchain-specific applications. Argo Blockchain, BLOCK (formerly known as Square), and GRIID Infrastructure will be the first set of customers for their upcoming blockchain accelerator chip.

The Intel Blockchain Accelerator Chip will ship later this year and Intel will direct ship these to the partner brands which seems to share similar sustainability goals as of Intel. Intel also claims that these chips are designed to solve the energy consumption by mining and the customers have been asking Intel for “scalable and sustainable solutions” to replace normal mining GPUs with custom-made blockchain accelerated chips.

Intel has formed a new internal unit called Custom Compute Group within Intel’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics business. This team will work on designing and developing custom chips that can handle workloads like blockchains and other accelerated supercomputing opportunities.

Intel has also confirmed that the Blockchain Accelerator Chip is implemented on a tiny piece of silicon, which does not affect the product of mainstream computer processors like CPU and GPU. The company has been said to spend over a decade of time in developing the custom Blockchain Accelerator Chip using “reliable cryptography, hashing techniques, and ultra-low voltage circuits.”

Can You Buy One?

It seems like the Intel Blockchain Accelerator Chip is like a supercomputer made for large-scale crypto mining in a most energy-efficient manner. This means, the chip might not be available for retail customers and will only be distributed to the partners. Given the fact that brands like Intel are embracing crypto mining and coming up with custom chips, cryptocurrency seems like the future which has plenty of real-world applications such as web 3.0.

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Story first published: Saturday, February 12, 2022, 20:25 [IST]

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