Intel Cancels Blockscale Bitcoin Mining ASIC Amid Crypto Decline

Intel Cancels Blockscale Bitcoin Mining ASIC Amid Crypto Decline

Chipmaker Intel is discontinuing a line of dedicated Bitcoin mining processors just a year after its launch.

Intel has scrapped its range of Bitcoin mining chips. (Photo: Jochen Gittel/Shutterstock)

The Blockscale series was meant to help Intel capitalize on opportunities in the cryptocurrency space, but the company said this week it will stop taking orders for the product later this year.

Since Blockscale launched, cryptocurrencies have had a number of high-profile issues. Intel, meanwhile, has its own problems, having seen revenues hit hard by the global economic downturn.

Why Intel Canceled Blockscale

Intel announced Blockscale, which it originally referred to as Bonanza Mine, last February. The application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) for Bitcoin miners was launched as part of a broader blockchain roadmap for the company.

Mining is the process of creating new tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain, and is notoriously energy intensive. At the time, Intel was keen to push the efficiency benefits of the ASICs, claiming that it offered 1,000 times better performance per watt of energy compared to mining with a GPU, the other widely used method of generating Bitcoin.

“We are aware that some blockchains require an enormous amount of computing power, which unfortunately translates into an enormous amount of energy,” said Raja Koduri, senior vice president and general manager of accelerated computing systems at Intel. “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.”

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Blockscale launched with several high-profile clients, including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s digital payments platform, Block, but 12 months later the project has bitten the dust. Intel says it will stop taking orders for Blockscale in October, and end support for the products next April.

An Intel spokesperson said the company is focusing its investment on its IDM 2.0 strategy, which will see it offer chip manufacturing services to third parties in a bid to compete with market leader TSMC.

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“As we prioritize our investments in IDM 2.0, we have discontinued the Intel Blockscale 1000 Series ASIC while continuing to support our Blockscale customers,” the spokesperson said.

Blockscale launched at the start of a “crypto winter”

Experts who spoke with Tech Monitor about Blockscale last year was doubtful it would achieve its stated goal of cutting Bitcoin’s carbon footprint, saying ASIC is likely to add to the problem of e-waste, with miners discarding old machines to upgrade to better models.

“With Bitcoin, the only thing that matters to miners is how much money they make,” said Alex de Vries, researcher and founder of Digiconomist. “They will spend a certain proportion of the money on energy. So if you give them a machine that is twice as efficient, it just means they have money left over to buy more machines.

“The main effect of Intel coming out with a new ASIC will be more electronic waste. Electricity consumption will probably remain largely the same.”

Apart from this, the product may have been a victim of bad timing, having hit the market at the start of a difficult period for crypto assets. The collapse of the so-called stablecoin Terra last year sent values ​​of digital currencies plummeting, and in November crypto exchange FTX went bust amid allegations of fraud, causing investors to lose millions of dollars.

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Intel, meanwhile, has been making cuts across its business after seeing revenue fall 32% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2022, prompting it to cut its forecasts for 2023. It will publish its first-quarter results for this year next week .

Read more: Bitcoin ‘on the road to irrelevance’ – ECB

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