Leading tech firm Intel is looking to patent a hardware development that would accelerate the process of Bitcoin mining chips, as revealed in recently published documents.
Accelerating Bitcoin mining
The application for the patent was submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office in September 2016, with the details made publicly available on 29 March 2018. The formal request seeks to patent specifically a “Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator With Optimized Message Digest and Message Scheduler Datapath”.
Intel outlines the benefits of the mining hardware accelerator in the application, detailing the process by which the software can increase the efficiency of Bitcoin mining. The hardware is described as consuming less electricity than standard software used for mining, increasing the economic efficiency.
Acquiring a patent such as this addresses the problems associated with conventional Bitcoin mining. As addressed in the application, the hardware utilized in the mining process ”uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions”. This results in the process of Bitcoin mining being both power-intensive and employing large amounts of hardware space.
The hardware accelerator reportedly offers to reduce the space used, as well as cut the amount of power consumed during mining by up to 35% against a general-purpose processor.
Intel’s links to Bitcoin
This latest event follows previously reported connections between Intel and Silicon Valley bitcoin mining startup, 21 Inc. Intel originally developed chips for the fledgeling company, although plans to incorporate these chips into other Intel products never reached the market.
In March 2015, Intel reportedly listed a job application citing they needed a researcher to “investigate hardware and software capabilities that advance the performance, robustness, and scalability of open, decentralized ledgers.”.
A patent applied for by Intel in December 2017 illustrates the company’s focus again on the energy-intensive process involved in genetic sequencing. This patent does not, however, focus explicitly on mining any form of cryptocurrency.
If a leading industry company such as Intel should choose to invest further in the development of Bitcoin or blockchain innovations, the potential impact could be significant.