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In a nutshell: Intel's accelerated computing group has started shipping its second-gen Blockscale ASIC for SHA-256 cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The launch is months ahead of schedule, but still too late to capitalize on the most recent cryptocurrency craze.
Intel announced that it was developing Blockscale ASICs in January when Bitcoin was worth twice as much as it is now and hardware was desperately in demand. Its second-gen is arriving after the market has satiated its need, which is usually when Intel starts shipping its hardware (I'm looking at you, Arc GPUs).
Despite that, the Blockscale ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) is a great chip. It measures 7 mm by 7.5 mm and consumes just 4.8-22.7W but hashes Bitcoin at up to 580 GH/s (gigahash per second). It's only capable of SHA-256 proof-of-work calculations, though.
Raja Koduri, executive VP and general manager of the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) Group for Intel, tweeted the news at the end of last week...
Intel AXG Custom Compute team is now shipping the Blockscale ASIC! First product will always be unforgettable, congratulations team'— Raja Koduri (Bali Makaradhwaja) (@RajaXg) June 29, 2022
Excited to see how @ArgoBlockchain @griid and @HiveBlockchain improvise around Blockscale and our open design. pic.twitter.com/0rxtNTLMfw
Koduri seems to have forgotten about the first-gen Blockscale ASIC that was announced in February. Intel did say at the time that a second-gen model was in-development and then it announced it just two months later, so perhaps the first version doesn't qualify as a fully-fledged product in Koduri's eyes.
In any case, the second-gen model is much better than the first. It consumes just 26 J/TH (Jules per terahash) while its predecessor consumed 90 J/TH. It's also more competitive with offerings from other companies. Intel's system with 256 ASICs can hash at a rate of 148 TH/s with the consumption of 3,850 W, about on par with Bitmain's S19 Pro at 110 TH/s and 3,250 W. Both systems cost between $5,000 and $6,000.
Koduri tagged GRIID Infrastructure, Hive Blockchain Technologies, and Argo Blockchain in his tweet, three companies that mine cryptocurrencies using renewable power sources. Intel markets the Blockscale ASIC as an environmentally-friendly product and it's good to see it standing by those principles by partnering with like-minded companies.