October 7, 2022

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Intel To Unveil Bitcoin-mining ‘Bonanza Mine’ Chip at Upcoming Conference (Updated)

It appears that Intel could enter the Bitcoin-mining hardware business, but not with its new upcoming GPUs. The ISSCC conference is a yearly gathering of the best and brightest minds in the chip industry. This year, Intel has a presentation scheduled in the ‘Highlighted Chip Releases’ category to outline a new “Bonanza Mine” processor, a chip described as an “ultra-low-voltage energy-efficient Bitcoin mining ASIC.” That means Intel could soon compete with the likes of Bitmain in the market for specialized ASICs for Bitcoin mining. Intel also commented on the new chip to Tom’s Hardware, saying “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.”

The presentation comes on the heels of comments from Intel’s GPU Chief Raja Koduri during a live stream last December, indicating that the company is working on specialized hardware for blockchain/cryptocurrency technologies. 

Bonanza Crypto mining ASIC

(Image credit: ISSCC)

Bitcoin is typically mined on ASICs, which are specialized processors specifically designed to execute one type of workload. ASICs afford efficiency and performance advantages over more complex types of chips, like CPUs and GPUs, that can perform the same task. As a result, the overwhelming majority of Bitcoin mining occurs on ASICs, with companies like Bitmain providing the specialized silicon to miners at hefty premiums.

The first signs of Intel’s interest in mining hardware surfaced in 2018 in the form of a patent for a specialized processing system that uses an optimized SHA-256 datapath (a cryptographic algorithm) for high-performance Bitcoin mining. As with all patents, the end product takes some time to come to market, but Intel has a wealth of experience in hardware-assisted SHA-256 algorithms due to the use of these instructions in its CPU products. Paired with its silicon production capabilities, Intel could be a particularly competitive entrant into the Bitcoin hardware market, especially given the focus on low-power, high-efficiency operation.  

Fast forward to December 29, 2021, and Intel’s Systems and Graphics Architect, Senior Vice President and GM Raja Koduri appeared on popular streamer Dr. Lupo’s show to promote the company’s launch of its first gaming GPUs, the Arc Alchemist lineup that will launch this year.

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-to-unveil-bitcoin-mining-bonanza-mine-asic-at-chip-conference