Intel hopes new Bitcoin mining chip will reduce its environmental impact

Intel Labs plans to ship its Bitcoin mining chip, which it claims is more energy efficient, to customers like Argo and Block this year.

Intel is preparing to introduce a new Bitcoin mining accelerator that it claims will harvest BTC 1,000 times more efficiently than standard GPUs.

Intel Labs plans to ship its energy-efficient mining accelerator to customers this year. The $195-billion computing giant says established Bitcoin outfits like Argo Blockchain and Jack Dorsey’s Block (formerly Square) have already shown interest.

Intel will give a presentation on its new circuitry at the International Solid State Circuit Conference to be held virtually next week.

The company even formed Custom Compute Group (CCC) to build customized silicon platforms for advanced computing applications like Bitcoin mining.

Custom Compute Group made the breakthroughs that underpin Intel’s new Bitcoin accelerator.

Intel wants Bitcoin miners using less power

Bitcoin purposefully uses energy-intensive computing to secure its network and distribute new tokens.

Bitcoin mining uses “SHA-256” cryptography, which makes it prohibitively expensive for anyone to control a majority of the network’s computations (its hashrate).

These costs also prevent double-spending and enforce honest accounting onto all participants.

Blockchain consensus built on SHA-256 cryptography is the only known solution to the Byzantine Generals Problem (BGP), a paradox of human coordination with untrusted counterparties.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin discussed the Byzantine Generals Problem on the Lex Friedman podcast.

BGP was considered unsolved since it was first introduced by NASA researchers in the late 1970s.

That is, until Satoshi Nakamoto’s peer-to-peer network for trustless payments dropped in 2009, giving us Bitcoin.

Congress probed energy usage of US-based Bitcoin miners

The House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the matter in January, with a session titled: “Cleaning Up Cryptocurrency: The Energy Impacts of Blockchains.

And to help mitigate Bitcoin mining’s growing popularity in the US since China’s crackdown last year, Texas governor Greg Abbott asked local outfits to limit rigs when the state’s power grid faces considerable strain.

According to estimates from the Bitcoin Mining Council, which is an open forum of global Bitcoin operators, nearly 60% of Bitcoin’s power usage comes from a sustainable mix of renewable energies like from hydroelectric dams.

Bitcoin mining also uses some stranded natural gas that otherwise would’ve been flared into the atmosphere.

MicroStrategy chief and Bitcoin bull Michael Saylor spearheads the Bitcoin Mining Council.

[Read more: Texas governor plea to Bitcoin miners: ‘Help me get through winter’]

If Intel’s more energy-efficient Bitcoin chip delivers on its promise, it could help reduce the strain on electrical grids and the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.

But whether Intel can truly compete with Bitmain and its suite of high-performance Bitcoin ASICs is yet to be seen.

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