Microprocessor giant Intel is designing a new chip for mining cryptocurrency, which it claims will significantly outperform anything currently on the market.  

The ‘blockchain accelerator’ chip known as Blockscale is being touted as the technology needed to “usher in the era of metaverse and Web 3.0”.  

According to the manufacturer, it is set to deliver over 1000x better performance than current chips, while consuming less energy. 

It has a hash rate of up to 580 GH/s (gigahashes per second), while consuming only 26 J/TH (joules of energy per terahash). This is considerably more efficient than the leading Bitcoin mining machines currently available. For example, Bitmain’s Antminer S19 Pro has a hash rate of 198 TH/S (terahashes per second) while using 27.5 J/TH.  

Blockscale is application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) hardware, which will operate on proof-of-work blockchains and use SHA-256 encryption.  

Commenting on the new chip, which is set to launch in the third quarter of 2022, Intel’s blockchain and business solutions manager Jose Rios said: 

“We are proud to collaborate with and provide solutions to companies that are creating a more sustainable cryptocurrency ecosystem globally. The Intel Blockscale ASIC will play a major role in helping Bitcoin mining companies achieve both sustainability and hash rate scaling objectives in the years ahead.” 

The first two customers for the Intel Blockscale ASIC have been revealed as Argo Blockchain and Block. The latter is Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s finance company, formerly known as Square.         

A chip delivering improved energy efficiency – the missing link for crypto? 

One of the major criticisms levelled at the cryptocurrency industry relates to its huge energy requirements. In fact, one analysis suggested that Bitcoin’s environmental impact was greater than the whole of the Netherlands.  

Another report from the University of Cambridge claimed that blockchain mining uses more electricity than the country of Argentina consumes in a year. And the figures are only climbing, with crypto energy consumption rising 62-fold between 2015 and 2021.  

The new Intel chip hopes to address complaints over the energy-hungry nature of crypto mining, with its improved energy efficiency.  

In a blog on the company’s website, Intel senior vice president Raja M. Koduri wrote:

“We are mindful that some blockchains require an enormous amount of computing power, which unfortunately translates to an immense amount of energy. Our customers are asking for scalable and sustainable solutions, which is why we are focusing our efforts on realizing the full potential of blockchain by developing the most energy-efficient computing technologies at scale.

“This architecture is implemented on a tiny piece of silicon so that it has minimal impact to the supply of current products.”  

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