Intel’s New Mining Chip May be Less Than Revolutionary

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  • Intel is bigging up its new crypto mining chip and released a few more details on Friday
  • The company said its new chip was 1,000x better at mining SHA-256 than GPUs are
  • However, GPUs haven’t mined SHA-256 encrypted coins for years because they aren’t powerful enough

Intel made headlines in the computing world last month by announcing its entry into the crypto mining space with the imminent launch of an “ultra-low-voltage energy-efficient bitcoin mining ASIC”, and on Friday it peeled back the curtain a little more in advance of its full reveal. However, Intel’s claim of its chip offering “1,000x better performance” carries with it a huge caveat, and one that threatens to undermine the launch.

Intel Vice President Reveals “1,000x better” Chip

Raja M. Koduri, Intel’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of its newly formed Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group, published a blog post on the Intel website on Friday to explain the reasons for the formation of the group and offer another small glimpse into what punters can expect from its new ASIC mining chip:

Intel Labs has dedicated decades of research into reliable cryptography, hashing techniques and ultra-low voltage circuits. We expect that our circuit innovations will deliver a blockchain accelerator that has over 1000x better performance per watt than mainstream GPUs for SHA-256 based mining.

This may sound like a great headline number, but it conceals an oddity – no one uses GPUs to mine coins with SHA-256 encryption anymore. SHA-256 is the encryption method used by Bitcoin and other older coins, and as anyone involved in crypto mining knows, it’s a pointless endeavor trying to mine SHA-256 encrypted coins with a GPU because they are nowhere near powerful enough and haven’t been for years (unless you’re mining a shitcoin).

ASICs Are Already Much More Powerful than GPUs

Given its client base is made up of Bitcoin mining firms we know that the Intel chip will be an ASIC and not a GPU, so what Intel seems to be saying is that it is making an ASIC chip that is 1,000x times more powerful than the most powerful GPU, which is hardly headline news as most ASICs are hundreds if not thousands of times more powerful than GPUs already.

This may have been a simple misunderstanding on Intel’s part, and more will be revealed at the International Solid State Circuit Conference (ISSCC) this month, but either way it doesn’t bode well for Intel’s immediate prospects in the space.

FullyCrypto has reached out to Intel for clarification on the matter.