• Intel’s ASIC functions 1000x more efficiently than the next GPU.
  • Intel will be manufacturing the chips at the industry competitive level.
  • Two new applications within industry segments could be coming.

Details around Intel’s much-hyped ASIC mining chip continue to surface, with the company releasing new information about the chip's expected power and industry partnerships in a Friday blog post.

Intel is looking to regain dominance in the chip industry and sees promise in Bitcoin-specific hardware, according to an industry source familiar with the matter. Intel will be releasing more information at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) on Feb. 23.

According to the company, the new “circuit innovations will deliver a blockchain accelerator that has over 1000x better performance per watt than mainstream GPUs for SHA-256 based mining.” The blog further announced that Intel will be establishing a “Custom Compute Group'' and creating chip platforms for at-home mining (AHM) and immersion mining.

1000x efficiency?

Of note is the fact that Bitcoin mining has not used GPU technology for nearly a decade, even though the blog benchmarks the new chip against GPUs. Rather, purpose-built chips called ASICs have become the standard. Intel’s decision to frame its chip's description in terms of GPU performance likely comes down to one of two scenarios: the chip's intended audience or marketing.

If the chip is intended to be used in an at-home mining setup, then GPU comparisons could make sense. Given interest from industrial miners and the state of Bitcoin mining, however, this option seems unlikely.

On the other hand, if the chip is intended to compete with the likes of Bitmain or Whatsminer, then a GPU comparison is nonsensical. It’s akin to calling the Burj Khalifa taller than the Matterhorn, merely because you measured the former in inches and latter in meters. Indeed, saying the chip has a 1% higher efficiency than TSMC or Samsung alternatives does not sound as impressive. So, Intel’s phrasing is likely a matter of marketing.

Custom Compute Group

From a high level, Intel will be manufacturing the chips on behalf of machine builders, with Argo Blockchain, Block (formerly Square) and Griid being the first customers. These three companies seem to be the “Custom Compute Group.”

Speaking with Compass, a source familiar with the matter said customers will likely create their own machines with the chips. In other words, Intel is creating greater depth in the chip market which should lead to more products in the machine market. For example, Block could make a high efficiency, low-power AHM solution to further encourage Bitcoin decentralization while Argo could use the chips for industrial mining operations.

By all accounts, however, Intel plans on giving Bitmain and other ASIC manufacturers a run for their money while also opening up the design space to new entrants.

Image courtesy of Intel.