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Intel Fueling Bitcoin Mining To Keep Its Chip Business Intact?
Intel chips have been at the forefront of the PC industry, powering almost everything from Chromebooks to the most demanding gaming machines, workstations, and servers out there. However, for high-end serious crypto mining operations, the same hardware isn't the first-round pick.
While many crypto miners use Intel chips backed by heavy-duty NVIDIA or even AMD GPUs for crunching complex numbers. However, Intel's regular x86 chips do not make for an effective solution when speaking of hash rates.
Intel Tapping The Crypto Mining Market
Well, a special type of processor called an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) is needed for this purpose. Earlier, Intel wasn't very keen on developing ASIC chips for the crypto market, until recently. The company has taken a new route with its new CEO, Pat Gelsinger at the helm.
Gelsinger's vision is to set up the company for long-term success, given the fact that its traditional business from big names like Apple has taken a hit and the pressure from rival AMD continues to grow. To do so, the executive is interested in new opportunities for Intel and is tapping markets such as crypto mining with a new line of Intel ASIC chips called "Bonanza Mine."
Efficient With A Cause
Intel threw its hat in the ring in 2021 when it announced the launch of the Bonanza Mine 1 (BMZ1) prototype, but it is the launch of BMZ2 that has kept crypto enthusiasts on their toes. Raja Koduri, Intel's senior VP and GM of Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics group, said, "...we at Intel are declaring our intent to contribute to the development of blockchain technologies with a roadmap of energy-efficient accelerators."
While Intel's x86 chips aren't known for their computing prowess, the new BMZ2 is expected to cause a stir in the crypto mining market when it comes out later this year. As per Koduri, Intel's latest ultra-low-voltage BMZ2 chip will offer 1000x better performance per watt compared to mainstream GPUs for SHA-256-based mining. This is assuring, as one of the biggest drawbacks of crypto mining is that it eats up huge amounts of energy.
Crypto Enthusiasts Waiting For Intel BMZ2 Chips
According to Business Insider, crypto mining eats up around 91 terawatt-hours of electricity every year, which is equivalent to the energy consumed by all 5.5 million people in Finland. Apart from adding to the emissions, it also digs into the profitability that comes from mining cryptocurrencies.
The yearly power consumption of China's Bitcoin industry is expected to hit 297 terawatt-hours (TWh) by 2024, which means it will exceed the carbon emissions of Qatar and the Czech Republic. As per a recent analysis by the University of Cambridge, Bitcoin mining eats up over 121Twh per year, which would make it the top 30 power consumers globally if it were a country.
Intel's BMZ2 will pose a strong threat to established ASIC chips from Bitmain, MicroBT, Bitfury, and Canaan in the coming days, as it offers power-efficiency of 26 joules per terahash and performance of 135 terahashes per second.