In April 2022, Intel launched a new application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) – a chip customized for a specific use – dedicated to proof-of-work mining. "Momentum around blockchain continues to build. (...) To power this new era of computing, Intel is delivering solutions that can offer an optimal balance of hashing throughput and energy efficiency," explained Balaji Kanigicherla, Intel vice president, in a press release.
Blockscale ASIC does a really good job of powering up to 580 GH/s hash rate, consuming between 4.8 to 22.7 W, and achieving up to 26 J/TH power efficiency. Other features include on-chip temperature- and voltage-sensing capabilities, support for up to 256 integrated circuits per chain, reference hardware design, and software stack to jump-start customer's system development. 256 Blockscale chips would have a total hash rate of up to 148.5 TH/s, consuming between 1,228 to 5,811 W. For comparison, Antminer S19 Pro, a competing technology, has a 110 TH/s hash rate and consumes 3,250 W with 30 J/TH efficiency.
Fast forward one year, Intel announced its decision to discontinue the first-gen Blockscale 1000-series chips without giving any hint of launching a new generation of the product in the future. The company will stop accepting orders by October 20 this year and terminate shipping by April 20 2024. "As we prioritize our investments in IDM 2.0, we have end-of-lifed the Intel Blockscale 1000 Series ASIC while we continue to support our Blockscale customers," the company said in a commentary for Tom's Hardware.
As unexpected as it may be, Intel's decision is explainable in light of the crisis afflicting the crypto industry. The company launched its product amid crashing valuations and mining revenues plunging. Nevertheless, Intel may have just made another timing mistake, with Bitcoin price recently rising above $30,000 for the first time since June 2022.
According to the statement, the company continues "to monitor market opportunities." So, should headwinds wane in the crypto business, relaunching Blockscale is not out of the question.