Block, the financial services and technology company owned by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, has completed the prototype design of its new five-nanometre (5nm) Bitcoin mining chip. This breakthrough could be key in decentralizing the supply of Bitcoin mining rigs, which is currently dominated by a few select companies.
In a blog post published on April 28, Block explained that developing Bitcoin mining ASIC rigs is both financially and technically challenging. The result of this has been “the excessive concentration of custom bitcoin mining silicon” in the hands of a select few companies. Block deems this centralization harmful to both miners and the Bitcoin network as a whole.
To combat this issue, Block has decided to make Bitcoin mining technology open source by selling standalone ASICs and other hardware components. The company believes that this will optimize innovation and maximize the size of the Bitcoin mining hardware ecosystem.
In addition to making Bitcoin mining technology open source, Block has also acquired a large quantity of Bitcoin mining chips from Intel, allowing them to bring mining machines to the market sooner than expected. The purchase will also help the company focus on developing its cutting-edge 3 nanometer chips.
The scale of a nanometer (1nm) is approximately equivalent to the width of two silicon atoms. As parts of the chips become smaller, it allows for more transistors to fit into a silicon die of the same size. By reducing the overall size, the electric current travels less distance in the circuit to perform a calculation, which means that overall efficiency is improved and the amount of heat produced is decreased.
Currently, most Bitcoin mining ASICs run on 5nm chips; however, no company has made their ASIC chip designs open source. Canaan, a Chinese mining firm, released the earliest 5nm ASIC in 2021.
The decision by Block to make Bitcoin mining technology open source and develop more efficient and affordable mining chips is significant. It could help to reduce the concentration of Bitcoin mining power in the hands of a few companies, making the network more decentralized and secure.
The purchase of Intel’s Blockscale 1000 Series ASICs is also significant. On April 18, Intel announced that it would halt taking new orders for the chips by Oct. 20 and end shipping in April 2024 as part of cost-cutting measures. Block’s acquisition of a large intake of ASICs from Intel will help accelerate the development of its proprietary 3nm chip, which it claims upon its release, would be the most advanced chip to date.
This announcement is a positive development for the cryptocurrency sector, as it shows that companies are actively working towards making the technology more decentralized and accessible. It also highlights the importance of open source technology in promoting innovation and collaboration.