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Intel Shines Light on Upcoming Blockscale ASIC Devices

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With environmentalists and governments placing an increased amount of focus on the environmental impact of Proof-of-Work (PoW) mining practices, it has become clear that the digital assets sector needs to take heed.  Whether it involves the creation of more efficient devices, utilizing renewable power sources, etc., steps are thankfully being taken to address the issue already – the latest example of which comes from tech giant Intel, which has just announced/detailed its upcoming Blockscale ASIC devices.

What is an ASIC?

For those new to terminology surrounding digital asset mining (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc.), ‘ASIC’ is an acronym standing for ‘Application Specific Integrated Circuit’.  These devices are custom built specifically for mining practices, boasting huge amounts of processing power with relatively compact footprints.

While Bitcoin miners were able to undertake the process with merely a laptop in the assets early days, the competitive nature of the practice in present time has rendered such an approach completely impractical.  To remain competitive and profitable, miners must constantly seek out greater processing power which only an ASIC can provide.

Bitmain Antminer

Over the years, ASIC devices have become a contentious topic, as they typically require massive amounts of power to function at full capacity, and have short lifespans due to rapidly and continually improving technology.  Despite this, they remain the go-to devices for miners serious about securing/supporting Proof-of-Work (PoW) based networks.

What is Intel’s Role?

With the popularity of digital assets, and Intel being one of the worlds largest chip manufacturers, it was not surprising when the company announced its first foray in to ASIC devices earlier this year.  Mere months later, and Intel is now well on its way to shipping its 2nd gen variants.

As alluded to above, the timing of these chips is crucial with increased criticism being placed on PoW practices in recent months.  The following are each events which highlight this,

Such events have not gone unnoticed by Intel, and have clearly played a role in the company’s approach towards building its own ASIC devices.  Jose Rios, GM of Blockchain and Business Solution at Intel states,

“Intel is committed to advancing blockchain technology in a responsible way, and we’re proud to collaborate with and provide solutions to companies that are creating a more sustainable cryptocurrency ecosystem globally”.  He continues, “The Intel Blockscale ASIC is going to play a major role in helping bitcoin mining companies achieve both sustainability and hash rate scaling objectives in the years ahead”.

One of the most intriguing selling points behind these Blockscale ASIC devices, is Intel’s ability to product them in huge quantities.  As it stands, a lack of competition and global supply shortages of ASIC devices have resulted in some of these devices commanding obscene prices – something that a major chip manufacturer like Intel could change immediately.

Specifications

At time of writing, Intel has provided the following specifications for its Blockscale ASIC devices.

  • Dedicated Secure Hash Algorithm-256 (SHA-256) ASIC processor.
  • Up to 580 GH/s hash rate operating and up to 26 J/TH power efficiency.
  • On-chip temperature- and voltage-sensing capabilities.
  • Support for up to 256 integrated circuits per chain.
  • Reference hardware design and software stack to jump-start customers system development.

While the power and efficiency don’t quite match the flagship offerings of industry favourite Bitmain, Intel’s Blockscale devices are expected to be much more affordable.  Despite not quite trumping certain Bitmain models, these Blockscale devices do remain more efficient than the majority of offerings on the market.

When is it Available?

Per its announcement, Intel indicates that the first of its Blockscale ASIC devices will first be delivered Q3 of this year to a trio of larger mining outfits.

  • Argo Blockchain
  • Hive Blockchain Technologies
  • GRIID Infrastructure

For those who ‘share the company’s sustainability goals’, Intel points towards 2023 as its timeframe to begin supplying Blockscale ASICs.

Competing Consensus Mechanisms

Despite PoW underpinning Bitcoin, the worlds largest digital asset, many believe that it is outdated for use as a consensus mechanism, despite the effort of companies like Intel to usher in higher efficiency.  Ask a believer in Bitcoin however, and most likely a response in favour of PoW will be given, pointing to ease of scalability and decentralization.

While various novelty consensus mechanisms have been floated over the years, it is the following few which remain the most noteworthy alternatives on offer by different blockchains today.

 

Joshua Stoner is a multi-faceted working professional. He has a great interest in the revolutionary 'blockchain' technology. In addition to this, he is a licenced Paramedic in Nova Scotia, Canada. As such, he can provide emergency care/medicine to any situation necessitating it.

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