Intel designs new crypto mining chip that’s ‘1000 times better’ than current processors

The ‘blockchain accelerator’ chip is also claimed to be more energy efficient, one of crypto’s biggest criticisms

Adam Smith
Monday 14 February 2022 13:50
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Intel is designing a new chip specifically designed to mine cryptocurrency.

The manufacturer announced that the “blockchain accelerator” is set to ship later this year, saying that the technology “has the potential to enable everyone to own much of the digital content and services they create” as people “usher in the era of metaverse and Web 3.0”.

The chip itself will apparently provide “over 1000x better performance per watt than mainstream GPUs for SHA-256 based mining”, with the company saying it will provide more details at the International Solid State Circuit Conference (ISSCC) this month.

“We are mindful that some blockchains require an enormous amount of computing power, which unfortunately translates to an immense amount of energy. Our customers are asking for scalable and sustainable solutions, which is why we are focusing our efforts on realizing the full potential of blockchain by developing the most energy-efficient computing technologies at scale,” senior vice president Raja M. Koduri wrote.

Mr Koduri also said that two companies – Argo Blockchain and Block, Jack Dorsey’s finance company previously known as Square – are its first customers for this piece of technology.

“This architecture is implemented on a tiny piece of silicon so that it has minimal impact to the supply of current products,” he added.

The environmental concerns behind crypto mining have been long-documented, although whether Intel’s chip is a sufficient solution remains to be seen. Bitcoin’s environmental impact has been suggested to come in at more than the whole Netherlands, according to analysis from the University of Cambridge.

Such issues are transferred to the technologies – such as the metaverse and Web3 – that will be built on the blockchain, and which advocates have claimed will be the future of the internet.

Web3 would theoretically allow users to have more say over the services they use.

Twitter has proposed a decentralised version of its service where different parts of it would have different moderation policies from what we think of now as the ‘main’ Twitter website, while others might become nodes in a network that facilitates instant messaging.

However, many of these technologies are yet to be fully visualised and – even if they are – may not come to fruition.

“People don’t want to run their own servers, and never will”, Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike has argued, while Twitter chief Jack Dorsey has said that Web3 is “ultimately a centralized entity with a different label”.

This is because claims of decentralisation have yet to be realised, with blockchain-based products like NFTs often stolen from their centralised storefronts.

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