The following is a direct excerpt from Marty’s Bent #1147: “Apparently Intel is getting into the Bitcoin ASIC game.” Sign up for the newsletter here.
Here is a pleasant surprise that was brought to the attention of the world this morning; it looks like Intel is preparing to unveil a Bitcoin ASIC on February 23 at the International Semiconductor Circuits Conference. According to the Tom’s Hardware article that revealed the story, Intel filed a patent related to an optimized SHA-256 data path in 2018, which would signal the focus on a Bitcoin ASIC due to Bitcoin exploiting the algorithm. hashcash SHA-256 cryptographic hash. It looks like they may have had their heads down to produce something bitcoin specific.
In a late 2021 YouTube interview, Intel system and graphics architect Raja Koduri hinted at the project:
If we take his word for it, it seems that Raja and the Intel team think they are using Bitcoin ASICs much more efficiently and at a lower cost. As with everything in the Bitcoin ASIC world, I won’t believe it until I see it. Definitely keep your eyes peeled on the morning of February 23 for reveal coverage. I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but I certainly don’t count on it.
That being said, let’s imagine that Intel comes out at the end of next month and comes up with a cheaper ASIC that is much more energy efficient and on par with the quality of the machines that MicroBT and Bitmain are currently producing. What effect would that have on the dynamics of the mining industry? IF these conditions are met, it would be an incredible development for the industry. For now, MicroBT and Bitmain are sort of running the show. The entry of a formidable competitor into the market would hopefully lead to better equipment and better prices. Bringing more price competition into the market should be a benefit for smaller miners, which should have a positive effect on the distribution of hashrate ownership. On top of that Intel has foundries in the US and manufacturing quality bitcoin ASICs on US soil would help distribute what I would say is the most centralizing aspect of bitcoin right now, chip production mining.
Outside of the mining industry, for an American company like Intel to signal to the market that it feels comfortable building a vertical company dedicated to serving the Bitcoin mining industry would be a massive endorsement for the industry. Many who are still on the sidelines might develop more confidence in Bitcoin seeing Intel enter the fray with a legitimate product.
All of the above is nothing more than speculation at this point. We’ll be sure to follow Intel’s ASIC developments. In the meantime, I’m a little skeptical, but hopefully the market will be surprised on the upside.