Block, the financial services and technology company owned by Jack Dorsey, former Twitter CEO, has completed the design of its new prototype ASIC chip. It claims will fast-track its plan to bring an “open source” Bitcoin mining rig design to the market. The new five-nanometre (5nm) Bitcoin mining chip is seen as crucial to decentralizing the supply of Bitcoin mining rigs.
Challenges in developing Bitcoin mining ASIC rigs
Developing Bitcoin mining ASIC rigs is technically and financially challenging. As a result, the industry has experienced an “excessive concentration of custom bitcoin mining silicon” in the hands of a select few companies. Block views this centralization as harmful to both miners and the Bitcoin network as a whole.
Block’s open-source plan
Block intends to make Bitcoin mining technology “open source” wherever possible. It plans to do this by selling standalone ASICs and other hardware components to
“optimize innovation and maximize the size of the Bitcoin mining hardware ecosystem.”
The company intends to experiment with new designs and bring more efficient and affordable Bitcoin mining chips to market.
Block’s purchase of ASIC chips from Intel
To fast-track the development push, Block has purchased a large batch of ASIC chips from Intel. On April 18, Intel announced that it would halt taking new orders for its Blockscale 1000 Series ASICs by Oct. 20 and end shipping in April 2024 as part of cost-cutting measures. Block believes that the large intake of ASICs from Intel will help accelerate the development of its proprietary 3nm chip. It claims upon its release, would be the most advanced chip to date.
The significance of nanometers in Bitcoin mining chips
The new chip’s design is based on five-nanometre (5nm) technology. Where the scale of a nanometer (1nm) is approximately equivalent to the width of two silicon atoms. As parts of the chips become smaller, it allows more transistors to fit into a silicon die. By reducing the overall size, the electric current travels less distance in the circuit to perform a calculation. Which improves efficiency and decreases the amount of heat produced.
Current state of the Bitcoin mining ASIC market
It’s worth noting that 5 nanometre ASIC chips have been around for some time, with the earliest 5nm ASIC being released in 2021 from Chinese mining firm Canaan. Currently, most Bitcoin mining ASICs run on 5nm chips. However, no company has made their ASIC chip designs open source.
ASICs and mining proof-of-work cryptocurrencies
ASIC stands for “application-specific integrated circuit” and refers to a computerized device optimized to complete a single computational function. It is typically used for mining proof-of-work cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Block’s prototype ASIC chip has the potential to bring a significant shift. In the Bitcoin mining industry by reducing centralization and increasing accessibility to mining rigs through an open-source approach.
The purchase of a large batch of ASIC chips from Intel should accelerate the development of its proprietary 3nm chip. Block claims would be the most advanced chip to date. The new design, based on five-nanometre (5nm) technology. Which allow more transistors to fit into a silicon die of the same size, thus improving efficiency. With this new development, Block is well-positioned to drive innovation and affordability in the Bitcoin mining industry.