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Components & Peripherals News

Intel’s New Crypto Chip Will Power New Sustainability Efforts

Shane Snider

The chipmaker says its new Blockscale technology will be used in an ASIC chip that will help make crypto-mining more energy efficient without taking a bit out of its CPU/GPU offerings. One executive at a distributor told CRN that it’s a ‘good opportunity for Intel.’

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Intel on Monday announced its new Blockscale chip for more efficient blockchain computing for crypto miners.

With environmental concerns about the growth of the cryptocurrency market and its energy-hungry mining requirements, companies are clamoring to find more energy efficient ways to support the blockchain. The application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip will provide the high-octane power needed for blockchain work while reducing the energy consumption by using more efficient low voltage circuits, Intel says.

“Momentum around blockchain continues to build,” Balaji Kanigicherla, Intel’s vice president and general manager of Custom Compute in the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group, said in a statement. “It is the enabler of decentralized and distributed computing, making way for innovative business models. To power this new era of computing, Intel is delivering solutions that can offer an optimal balance of hashing throughout and energy efficiency regardless of a customer’s operating environment. Intel’s decades of R&D in cryptography, hashing techniques and ultra-low voltage circuits make it possible for blockchain applications to scale their computing power without compromising on sustainability.”

Intel and other tech companies are racing to keep up with the exploding cryptocurrency market. A report from Research and Markets says the global cryptocurrency market is expected to grow 13.8 percent annually to $2.7 billion by 2025. The 2021 market was worth $1.6 billion, the report said.

But all that market expansion comes at a price. Crypto’s blockchain mining could consume 121.36 terawatt hours per year, or more electricity than Argentina consumes in a year, according to a University of Cambridge report. The report shows that crypto energy consumption increased 62-fold between 2015 and 2021.

“We are mindful that some blockchains require an enormous amount of computing power, which unfortunately translates to an immense amount of energy,” wrote Intel’s Raja Koduri, senior vice president and general manager of the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group, in a company blog post. “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.”

Shipments of the Blockscale chip will begin in the third quarter of 2022, the company said. Argo Blockchain, Block Inc., Hive Blockchain Technologies and GRIID Infrastructure will be among the first companies to develop new systems based on Intel’s new ASIC chip. Intel says it will be able to produce the new technology without compromising supply of new CPUs or GPUs.

Channel partners may want to keep an eye on developments in the crypto market, according to Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at Campbell, Calif.-based distributor ASI Corp. “There’s a lot of concern about power consumption and this is going to be a trend that’s pushed by governments around the world,” he said. “So this makes a lot of sense and it’s a good opportunity for Intel.”

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Shane Snider

Shane Snider is a senior associate editor covering personal computing, mobile devices, semiconductor news, hardware reviews, breaking news and live events. Shane is a veteran journalist, having worked for newspapers in upstate New York and North Carolina. He can be reached at ssnider@thechannelcompany.com.

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