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Intel reveals power, efficiency details of first-gen crypto mining chip, but has already moved to its 2nd gen

Intel reveals power, efficiency details of first-gen crypto mining chip, but has already moved to its 2nd gen
Photo Credit: Intel
22 Feb, 2022
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Intel has finally revealed the performance and efficiency specifications of its first generation Bitcoin mining chip, but rather confusingly, appears to be already retailing the second generation of its crypto chips to its paying consumers. Revealed at the recent International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2022 conference arranged by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Intel Bonanza Mine Z1 (abbreviated as BMZ1) application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) appears to be a rather incremental offering at best.

In terms of the key specifications that it offers, the Intel BMZ1 ASICs are based on a 7nm fabrication standard. The 300-chip BMZ1 mining system consumes 355mV, and based on its peak performance capability of 40 terahash per second (TH/s), its overall energy consumption comes to 55J/TH/s (joule per terahash per second) at the 355mV voltage of operation and 3600W power.

The ‘hash’ is the fundamental unit of ‘mining’ a cryptocurrency token on a blockchain, and is a measure of the amount of performance required to validate the existence of the token across distributed, decentralised ledgers – and bringing it into circulation within the blockchain’s network. In simpler terms, it is the basic unit of power consumption for all crypto coins, which in turn means that it is of utmost importance for all potential crypto miners around the world.

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Alongside the performance figure, what is also important today is the efficiency figure – with multiple reports highlighting the drastic power consumption of Bitcoin as a major problem.

However, Intel’s first generation BMZ1 crypto mining chip appears to have been far away from the best offerings in the industry. A Tom’s Hardware report on the revelation of the chips’ performance and energy figures states that in comparison, an alternate crypto mining rig such as Bitmain’s Antmienr S19j XP already produces 140TH/s at 3010W power – well lower than 30J/TH/s efficiency rate. In simpler terms, the Intel BMZ1 has alternatives that are almost twice as efficient, already.

Earlier this month, when Intel unveiled its crypto mining chips, its engineering SVP, Raja Koduri, had said, “We expect that our circuit innovations will deliver a blockchain accelerator that has over 1000x better performance per watt than mainstream GPUs for SHA-256 based mining.” In other words, Intel wanted to make a big play on efficiency of mining with its crypto focused chips.

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Going forward, it remains to be seen if details about the second generation crypto chip, the Intel BMZ2, are also revealed soon. Intel reportedly has clients such as Jack Dorsey’s Block for its products, so it’s likely that the BMZ2 would offer a sizeable jump in terms of its efficiency as well as overall performance figures.