Intel on Friday officially announced that it's developing energy-efficient blockchain accelerators. The upcoming ASIC will ship later this year. Intel's first customers include the Bitcoin mining companies Griid Infrastructure, Argo Blockchain and BLOCK (formerly known as Square).
"Intel will engage and promote an open and secure blockchain ecosystem and will help advance this technology in a responsible and sustainable way," Raja M. Koduri, SVP and GM of Intel's Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group, wrote in a blog post.
Customers, he wrote, are looking for scalable, sustainable systems, encouraging Intel to focus on "realizing the full potential of blockchain by developing the most energy-efficient computing technologies at scale."
Intel's blockchain accelerator, he said, will deliver over 1000x better performance per watt than mainstream GPUs for SHA-256 based mining.
The new chips should have a minimal impact on Intel's current product supply, Koduri said, since the architecture is implemented on a tiny piece of silicon.
To support emerging technologies like the new blockchain accelerator, Intel also announced the formation of a new Custom Compute Group within Intel's Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics business unit. The team will focus on building custom silicon platforms optimized for customers' workloads, including blockchain and other accelerated supercomputing opportunities at the edge.
Bitcoin mining uses customized PCs (or cryptomining rigs) to solve cryptographic equations and record that data to a blockchain. Mining is essentially a way to accumulate cryptocurrency without paying for it; however, it requires state-of-the-art hardware with a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU), which becomes costly to obtain and operate.
More and more tech companies are getting involved in crypto mining and digital currencies as the market grows and becomes more popular. Experts predict that 90% of the global population will adopt cryptocurrencies in the next decade. In just the past few years alone, the cryptocurrency market has grown from $1.44 billion in 2020 to $1.63 billion in 2021.