Bitcoin Mining, Cryptocurrency–Even with the falling price of Bitcoin and the recent questions being raised about the profitability of crypto mining, American tech company Intel has made headlines with a new patent filing that seeks to improve upon the efficiency of mining.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) filing that was published on Nov. 27, the tech giant’s patent specifically seeks to establish “energy-efficient high-performance Bitcoin mining.”
Given the growing concerns over the amount of electricity consumed by Bitcoin mining, a feature that has drawn almost as much criticism–and skepticism–to the industry as price volatility, it’s no surprise that companies are seeking a more economical approach. While some have cried foul over the allegations that BTC mining is contributing to global warming, or that the industry function accounts for more energy consumption than entire countries, it is undoubtedly a feature that will have to be modified for cryptocurrency to reach mainstream. Some enterprising individuals have turned the large input of power consumption in their favor, seeking advantage over competition by moving to regions such as up-state New York which provide more cost effective hydroelectric power.
In the case of Intel and their most recent patent filing, the company secrets to create hardware and technology that will provide an advantage in mining coins while doing so in a more energy efficient manner. Specifics of the patent include a “hardware accelerator implementing SHA-256 hash using optimized data paths,” with the goal of reducing total energy consumption by up to 15 percent.
The filing continues,
“clusters of SHA engines may consume a lot of powers (e.g., at a rate of greater than 200 W)…Embodiments of the present disclosure include energy-efficient ASIC-based SHA engines that consume less power for Bitcoin mining operations.”
Intel has previously been involved in patent filings in Bitcoin mining, having submitted a proposal back in March that aimed to reduce the amount of “energy consumption per hash and maximizing performance per watt,” showing a predilection for the company to improve upon the current efficiency of most mining machines. A breakthrough in such a hardware or technology would enable the company to sell with an edge over their competition, as the climbing number of miners and computing power involved in Bitcoin, while useful for maintaining the network, has had the adverse effect of driving up the cost of mining operations significantly–fees which have been passed onto consumers and the general market.
Given the drop in valuation for Bitcoin and altcoins over the last two weeks, culminating in a dip to $3500 for the first time since 2017, reports were circulating that miners were abandoning their efforts in droves and selling their equipment for pennies on the dollar. While Bitcoin’s hash rate has been falling along with its valuation, many have pointed out that this is likely due to miners shifting to more profitable currencies as opposed to outright abandoning the industry of using their hardware to mine crypto.
Intel’s efforts to produce more efficient mining hardware could be getting a step on the competition during the lowest period of this bear cycle. But, given the timing of the patent filing, it shows a small commitment by the company to exploring crypto even as prices continue to fall.