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Author Topic: New Bitcoin mining chip could double efficiency  (Read 808 times)
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August 17, 2014, 10:12:07 AM

    Bitcoins might not have any physical substance, but they can’t be conjured out of thin air either. The production of new units of the cryptocurrency is controlled by “mining,” which grants new coins to people who use computing power to perform complex mathematical operations. A German startup called ASICrising says it now has a design for a Bitcoin mining chip that is twice as efficient as previous ones. That could translate to big money for dedicated miners.

When you’re mining Bitcoins, some of that computation is actually being used to maintain the Blockchain. That’s basically the master record for Bitcoins that tracks how many coins are in which anonymous accounts. Bitcoin is designed in such a way that the computation cost of mining new coins goes up over time. A few years ago, you could easily mine a few coins overnight on a regular laptop CPU. Eventually GPU computing was needed to make any headway, and then we moved on to custom hardware known as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).
     ASICrising’s design is for a new type of ASIC chip that requires only 0.19 joules of energy to generate one gigahash (a unit of Bitcoin computing power). The most efficient ASIC available right now needs 0.37 joules to accomplish the same amount of work. The lower energy consumption would shift the economics of Bitcoin mining, allowing buyers of these chips to get more computing power on the same amount of energy and generate less heat. This hardware doesn’t do anything for other areas of computing, though. ASIC chips are designed from the ground up to do only one thing very well–in this case, that one thing is mine Bitcoin.

The company is working with US-based semiconductor maker GlobalFoundries to produce the chip, but first ASICrising needs to raise $10-15 million to cover the initial production run. ASICrising hasn’t commented on how much the chip will cost, but current high-end ASIC mining rigs capable of any reasonable production cost at least a few hundred dollars.
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