Intel to showcase Bitcoin mining chip in February – report

Gelo Gonzales
Intel to showcase Bitcoin mining chip in February – report

BITCOIN. A representation of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin is seen in this picture illustration taken October 19, 2021

Edgar Su/Reuters

The chip is described to be an 'ultra-low-voltage energy-efficient Bitcoin mining ASIC'

Chipmaker Intel is set to unveil a processor that specifically mines Bitcoin, according to a report by Tom’s Hardware

The website spotted an entry in the program of this year’s International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) that shows Intel presenting a new “Bonanza Mine” processor under its “Highlighted Chip Releases” category on February 23. The chip is described to be an “ultra-low-voltage energy-efficient Bitcoin mining ASIC.” 

ASIC stands for application-specific integrated circuit. These are chips that specialize in a task, which in this case is Bitcoin mining. Bitcoin mining involves computers attempting to solve complex mathematical problems in order to get the Bitcoin reward for a block in the blockchain. In the past, graphics processing units or GPUs were used to mine for Bitcoin, but through time, the computational challenges of Bitcoin mining became more complex, necessitating the need for specialized hardware such an ASIC Bitcoin miner. 

This is the category Intel is looking to enter. Intel told Tom’s Hardware, “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.” SHA 256 is the cryptographic algorithm that Bitcoin runs on. 

Tom’s Hardware noted that Intel “could be a particularly competitive entrant in the Bitcoin hardware market” with its experience working with the SHA 256 algorithm paired with its mass market production capabilities. 

If indeed the Bonanza Mine chip becomes a commercial product, Intel will be going against the current top producer of Bitcoin mining ASICs, Bitmain. Intel will have some advantage over most Bitcoin ASICs producers thanks to its ability to fabricate its own chips unlike the others which rely on third-party chip foundries.

Of interest is how energy efficient Intel’s chip will be as Bitcoin mining has notoriously been energy intensive.  – 

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.