Microchip giant Intel has filed a patent in the US describing a ‘Bitcoin mining hardware accelerator’ designed to increase the efficiency of bitcoin mining devices. The patent reveals a system that utilizes two individual components that streamline the computation of the SHA256 algorithm and allow for the system to run at reduced power. As power is often the major profitability factor for miners, any form of efficiency increase impacts the miner’s bottom line.
Intel describes the accelerator as being capable of reducing energy requirements by “optimizing the critical paths in the computation intensive message digest and scheduler datapaths” which “may result in extra time, which can be used to reduce switching capacitance or scale the supply voltage.” The patent suggests this new accelerator could provide a 35% boost in power savings which would give accelerated mining equipment a significant advantage versus products currently available on the market.
Bitcoin mining has been an arms race since the very first block was minted, and mining manufacturers across the globe are continually one-upping each other with more and more efficient chip designs. Even as hardware becomes more efficient, skeptics continue to point out that the growing energy usage may be environmentally hazardous. Innovations like Intel’s accelerator present opportunity to reduce environmental costs while increasing mining profits.
As exciting as it is to see large tech companies dive into crypto, it bears mentioning that this patent will give Intel licensing leverage over companies wanting to continue to produce competitive, energy efficient miners.