Intel tips plans for a Bitcoin mining 'Bonanza' chip

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Intel has signaled that the next generation of Bitcoin mining rigs may ship with “Intel Inside” stickers, as the company has announced plans to at least discuss a “Bonanza Mine” chip for mining Bitcoin at an upcoming conference.

The upcoming program (PDF link) for the International Solid-State Circuits Conference includes a listing for “Bonanza Mine,” an “ultra-low-voltage energy-efficient Bitcoin mining ASIC,” a paper authored by three Intel employees. The listing was unearthed by Tom’s Hardware.

So far, the program doesn’t indicate whether or not Intel actually plans to ship Bonanza Mine as a finished product or as a research project. The listing, however, implies the latter. The lead author, Vikam Suresh, is described as a research scientist at Intel Labs, focusing on “high-performance and energy-efficient micro-architecture and circuit design for data encryption and authentication, design of cryptographic primitives for random number and key generation, and block-chain technologies and high-performance data compression.”

In December, Raja Koduri, senior vice president and general manager of the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) Group at Intel, hinted at the company’s plans for blockchain and that they would not include general-purpose CPUs or GPUs. That’s probably not a surprise given that effective Bitcoin mining moved into ASICs long ago. It’s because of this that some of the smaller coins have become popular, as general-purpose PCs can still somewhat compete with more specialized, well-funded mining organizations.

Koduri told streamer DrLupo that he wants to get a solid install base of its new Arc GPUs, enough so that the company can attract attention from software developers. If those Arc GPUs are simply sitting in a mining farm, Koduri said, that goal isn’t accomplished. The conversation then turned to specialized Bitcoin hardware. You can tune in to their conversation below:

Intel hasn’t indicated what the hash rate will be, the estimated power, and whether the ASIC would be optimized for Bitcoin only. In any event, we’ll know more on Feb. 23 at 7:00 AM when Bonanza Mine is scheduled to be unveiled at ISSCC. The conference is all virtual, given the pandemic.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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