Intel is making a push toward sustainability and has created a new crypto mining chip designed for energy efficiency.
The chip is set to ship later this year with Jack Dorsey’s fintech company Block (SQ) among its first buyers. Block is one of the main holdings in the VanEck Digital Transformation ETF (DAPP ) which stands to benefit from the move as crypto looks for solutions to the problem of energy consumption.
“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,” Raja Koduri, Intel’s senior vice president, explains in the announcement, referencing the hashing algorithm used to create bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Intel plans to make further announcements about the chip later this month at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference. Its February 23rd presentation is titled “Bonanza Mine: An Ultra-Low-Voltage Energy-Efficient Bitcoin Mining ASIC.” ASIC refers to “application-specific integrated circuits,” which essentially means chips designed for a specific task, such as cryptocurrency mining.
The new chip comes on increasing concern over the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies, which has made the asset controversial of late. In a congressional debate last month, Representative Diana Degette (D-CO) said: “Cryptocurrency presence in everyday life will likely continue to expand. As the industry moves forward, it’s crucial for cryptocurrency networks to identify ways to reduce the need for constant high volume energy use and minimize effects on the environment.” The Bitcoin network currently consumes more electricity than the countries of Ukraine or Norway use in a year. The Biden administration has set a goal eliminating nearly all greenhouse gas pollution over the next few decades — a difficult feat even without bitcoin mining’s consumption.
A majority of bitcoin miners in China had used clean hydropower during the wet season. Since China’s crackdown, mining has shifted to other countries, primarily the U.S., and the energy toll is already being felt.
As crypto becomes more mainstream it will need to tackle the problem of energy consumption and environmental reality. Intel’s new chip could help alleviate the energy impact. Cryptocurrency luminaries have other solutions on the table as well, with organizations like the Crypto Climate Accord working toward a goal of having all blockchains powered by renewable energy by 2025.
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