In short: Intel believes this can help reduce the environmental impact of mining bitcoin and other proof-of-work cryptocurrencies, so it is moving forward with a second-generation blockchain accelerator chip. The company is also confident that it will be able to ship the new chip in large volumes without compromising the production of CPUs and GPUs.
Back in February, Intel unveiled its first-generation Bonanza Mine blockchain acceleration solution during a presentation at the annual IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference. The company said it is working on a second-generation solution that will offer better performance per watt, but did not give a clear timeline for when it would hit the market.
Intel this week launched a new application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) called Blockscale, which is supposedly capable of delivering up to 580 GH per second. The company claims that it will consume between 4.8 and 22.7 watts of power, giving an energy efficiency of up to 26 J/TH.
The first generation Intel Bonanza Mine chips were much less efficient at 90J/TH. Block-scale chips can be chained up to 256 ASICs, and such a system is expected to provide about 148 TH per second with a power consumption of about 3850 watts. This comes close to the efficiency of the Bitmain S19J XP mining system, which can reach 140 TH per second while consuming only 3010 watts.
More importantly, Intel claims it can flood the market with Blockscale bitcoin mining chips without compromising CPU and GPU manufacturing capacity. In other words, the company is using a different, more mature process unit, perhaps from an external foundry.
The largest clients of Intel Bonanza Mine and Blockscale mining systems are Jack Dorsey Block (formerly Square), GRIID Infrastructure, Hive Blockchain Technologies and Argo Blockchain. According to GRIID, new Intel mining systems cost $5,625 per unit, which is about half the cost of comparable solutions from Bitmain.
The cost should be low enough to encourage some GPU miners to switch, but whether they do so depends largely on how quickly the Ethereum network can transition to the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism. In the meantime, GPU prices and availability seem to be getting better every month. Blockscale will go on sale in the third quarter of 2022.