Listen to the Podcast:
Intel’s journey into the world of cryptocurrencies has come to an abrupt end. Tom’s Hardware says the company has chosen to stop manufacturing Blockscale, its chip designed for Bitcoin mining equipment called ASIC miners. The news comes just a year after the first generation of the team came out, which won’t be replaced any time soon.
Intel has not said more about why they made the decision. In a statement to the aforementioned media outlets, the company said the choice was made as part of a process to prioritize investment over what the company calls IDM 2.0. The latter is a mixed component manufacturing model in which it offers its foundry service to third parties and sends some processes to key partners.
So, Intel stated that it will not continue making the Blockscale series of chips, which people thought were only for Bitcoin mining. Although the equipment is no longer being manufactured, Pat Gelsinger says she will continue to help customers with whom she has a long-term commitment.
Although mentions of the Bitcoin mining chip are no longer on Intel’s website, the company will continue to take new orders from interested buyers until October of next year. In the meantime, shipments will continue until April 2024. Thereafter, it’s unclear when support for the chip in question will be extended.
Intel gives up Blockscale, its Bitcoin mining chip
When Intel said that its chip could be used to mine Bitcoin, it seemed like a very interesting bet on the part of the American company. It is that, behind the beginning, there was a promise to fix one of the biggest problems with the mining of this cryptocurrency, which is that it uses a lot of energy.
The energy economy of Intel hardware is a big problem. Raja Koduri, who was the company’s chief engineer at the time, said the Blockscale chips mined cryptocurrency using the SHA-256 algorithm 1,000 times faster per watt than traditional hardware.
Intel’s plan quickly caught the attention of several well-known companies. The first company to say it would use the new bitcoin mining chip was Block, which was started by Jack Dorsey, who also started Twitter. Although he was not the only one. Large cryptocurrency mining pools like Griid and Argo Blockchain have also tapped into this potential part.
Even so, it’s clear that Intel no longer puts a lot of effort into making equipment specifically for Bitcoin mining. Or that, being one of the company’s newest businesses, it became a way to reduce costs. Let’s not forget that the Santa Clara, California chipper had a financial 2022 to forget. Something that became especially clear in the third quarter, when its revenues fell by 85% compared to the same period of the previous year. Situation that forced to plan many cuts.
Also, the price of Bitcoin has changed a lot in the last year. In March 2022, when Intel revealed BlockScale, the price of a cryptocurrency was around $40,000. This value was much lower than the all-time high, which was $69,000 in November 2021, but was still higher than what would be seen in the coming months. BTC fell sharply, and by January 2023, it was worth less than $17,000. It has since returned and is now at $30,000. However, a new fall is not impossible.
A long time to change your mind
Even if a company seems profitable, it is clear that not all companies are willing to deal with such instability. Any way you look at it, Intel hasn’t completely closed the door on the idea of staying connected to the crypto world. Asked if Blockscale’s cancellation meant the company was leaving the blockchain market for good, the company said it would continue to “monitor market opportunities.” After all, neither yes nor no.
You have plenty of time to try it out if Intel changes its mind and decides to start making ASIC miner-specific hardware again. Even so, the last Bitcoin will not be mined until 2140.
Subscribe to our latest newsletter
To read our exclusive content, sign up now. $5/month, $50/year