Category Archives: Bitfury

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ASIC: Resistance Is Futile! Crypto’s Battle a Losing War?

At Consensus 2018, many blockchain software developers viewed Bitmain’s recent launch of their newest Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners as proof of the impending future for all cryptocurrencies. ASIC hardware will soon hit the markets for previously deemed ASIC-resistant cryptocurrencies such as EthereumMonero, and Zcash.

David Vorick, a founder of ASIC manufacturer Obelisk stated:

“I think any GPU-mined coin is going to become an ASIC-mined coin at some point. Bitmain has been pretty methodical about demonstrating this.”

Bitmain is one of the main manufacturers of ASIC miners. Looking at Blockchain.info, Bitmain’s BTC.com and Antpool mining pools also make up an excess of 40% of the hashing power on the network.

Cryptocurrencies to remain completely ASIC-resistant for how long?

Crypto developers believe the advancement in technology surrounding mining will continue to increase at a similar rate as to which the resistant code is developed to combat them.

Most ASIC-resistant algorithms were produced by software engineers with a pre-conceived idea of what custom hardware is capable of, mainly due to their limited understanding of the functionalities of the hardware.

We’ve been hopeful on how long the ASIC resistance will last. Samsung, IBM, and Intel are among the giants who are looking to develop dedicated mining hardware, while established companies such as Bitmain and Bitfury already dominate the market. General purpose technology like CPUs, GPUs, and even DRAM all make sacrifices in efficiency for particular tasks in order to facilitate a wider deployment. To make a comparison, most mobile phones are capable of taking pictures but won’t compare to a standalone camera’s quality as it sacrifices that for portability and other functionalities. For that reason, general purpose hardware will always be limited and will often be superseded by dedicated machinery.

With ASICs being developed so rapidly, they can often slip under the radar in secret mining operations. Several months ago, an ASIC Monero mining operation was exposed which was rumored to have been running since early 2017. It was estimated that the secret ASICs accounted for more than 50% of the hash rate. This kind of network dominance could have led to a 51% attack at any time.

Vorick continues to explain how preventative measures taken by developers only delay the inevitable:

“The strategy of hardforking ASICs off of a network is going to lose potency the more it happens, because chip designers do have the ability to make chips that are flexible, anywhere from slightly flexible to highly flexible, with each piece of flexibility costing only a bit of performance. The Monero devs have committed to keeping the same general structure for the PoW algorithm, and because of that commitment, we believe that you could make a Monero miner capable of surviving hard forks with less than a 5x hit to performance.”

ASIC vs ASIC

ASICs have already got a strong foothold in the network with the future of management rather than mitigation an inevitable reality. Although we have to ask was there ever really a war against ASICs? Nvidia, Intel, and other companies identify their technology as ASICs internally but us as customers are familiar with these products for their more generic use. The main controversial topic surrounding ASICs is more of centralization and network control.

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New ASIC with 7nm Architecture Boasts 20+ billion transistors

The Japanese company GMO Internet Group announced on Wednesday the launch of their bitcoin application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miner built on a 7nm architecture. They are aiming for the new compact chip design to launch on the 6th of June and for mass production of the B2 miner to lead to the shipping of the final product in October.

The company claims to have already mined a total of 906 bitcoin and 537 bitcoin cash as of April, with current CoinDesk prices that amount to almost USD 8 million in cryptocurrency.

New entries are welcome in the market as according to Bernstein, “Bitmain accounts for as much as 80% of bitcoin application specific integrated circuits (ASICs)”. Bitmain has generated between USD 3 billion and USD 4 billion in profits in 2017. The Beijing-based company rivals profits of one of the market leaders Nvidia, who specializes in chipset design and manufacture. Nvidia’s market cap was USD 147 billion, turning profits of USD 3 billion in 2017. With mining technology reaching similar levels to that of well-established companies it puts into perspective the rate of growth that the market is experiencing. Bitmain has achieved what Nvidia took several decades to achieve in a brief window, this is partially down to the rapid increase in the value of bitcoin. This year they announced their Ethereum ASIC which is going to add to their already expanding profits.

Bitfury Group is also generating competitive revenue with its bitcoin mining operations, and software services turning over USD 93.7 million revenue in 2017’s financial year.

7nm architecture and hardware accelerators

Samsung revealed earlier this year that it is due to start manufacturing ASIC chips in January 2018. Intel has been developing some of its own technologies, claiming their hardware accelerator could create a power reduction of as much as 35 percent.

“Because the software and hardware utilized in Bitcoin mining uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions, the process of Bitcoin mining can be very power-intensive and utilize large amounts of hardware space. The embodiments described herein optimize Bitcoin mining operations by reducing the space utilized and power consumed by Bitcoin mining hardware.”

The 7nm Architecture will be the latest advancement in the bitcoin mining sector as well as the computer industry with four-fold efficiency. 7nm semiconductors contain 20+ billion transistors, whilst fitting on your fingertip they are still capable of performing complex computations. Samsung and IBM are also researching and developing these 7nm chips. With 7nm chips on the horizon, this then sets the future for 5nm semiconductors and a move closer to the end of Moore’s Law.

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