The popularity of the cryptocurrencies is surging everyday as different global and renowned companies get their proverbial hands on the digital currency. And the global tech giant, Intel is on the list as well. Intel, a company that is extremely famous globally specifically for it’s widely used computer processors, has won a patent in relation to its work in the area of cryptocurrency mining.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Intel the patent on Tuesday, which outlined a processor that claims to be able to conduct energy-efficient high performance bitcoin mining,” specifically naming the SHA-256 algorithm; an algorithm that is used by the world’s biggest cryptocurrency marketcap.
Intel’s interest in the cryptoverse isn’t exactly new; the company has in fact, previously sought patents related to its work in the arena of crypto mining. And interestingly enough, it was Intel’s foundry that was able to produce the chips for mining operation; carried out by 21Inc. Following a rebranding it became Earn.com, and ultimately ended up being acquired by Coinbase.
According to the patent, Bitcoin miners may be offered rewards for their efforts in the form of receiving a block reward and transaction fees. But the problem is that mining machines, for the Bitcoin network especially, are energy intensive, as they require hardware accelerators, like application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).
These hardware accelerators are required particularly for the processing of 32-bit nonces, which are strings of bits used once during a transaction. The ASICs currently in use go through multiple stages in order to process these transactions, that too with redundancies. The patent reads,
Dedicated Bitcoin mining ASICs are used to implement multiple SHA-256 engines that may deliver a performance of thousands of hashes per second while consuming power of greater than 200 [watts]. Embodiments of the present disclosure employ micro-architectural optimizations including selective hardwiring certain parameters in Bitcoin mining computation.
By hardwiring these parameters, it would significantly lower the number of computations required. And as per the patent, such a system would have the potential to actually reduce the amount of power that is needed for a chip, by 15%. Hence, the resulting chip too would be smaller as compared to those used for bitcoin miners at present. As attractive as it might sound, it is, however an estimation.
Furthermore, the patent explores the idea of changing how much of the 32-bit nonce is compared for validity, could potentially further lower the power requirements.
Instead of comparing the final hashing result with the target value, [the] bitcoin mining application may determine whether the hash out has a minimum number of leading zeros.
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