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Technology giant Intel is set to enter the mining business, starting with the reveal of a new Bitcoin mining “Bonanza Mine” chip at this year’s International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISCC) in February, according to a report by Tom’s Hardware.
For the conference itself, Intel reportedly has a presentation prepared to outline the new Bonanza Mine chip, which is described as an “ultra-low-voltage energy-efficient Bitcoin mining ASIC.”
In December, when discussing the company’s gaming GPUs, GM Raja Koduri told Intel Gaming: “I think blockchain is a transaction thing that is run much more efficiently than the burning of hardware cycles,” adding that this was “something we are working on.”
According to Tom’s Hardware, it is not yet clear if Intel will release the new chip to the public, or if it—alternatively—will remain embedded in a research project for now.
Intel and crypto
This is not the first time Intel has waded into the crypto world.
In October, Intel announced that the company’s upcoming graphics cards would not include restrictions on cryptocurrency mining in response to plans by rival NVIDIA to make its own cards “less desirable” for Ethereum miners.
“We’re not designing this product or building any features at this point that specifically target miners. As far as actions we’re taking to avoid or lock them out, it’s a product that will be in the market and people will be able to buy it,” said Roger Chandler, Intel vice president and general manager of client graphics products and solutions.
Last summer, Intel also disclosed in an SEC filing that it was holding nearly $800,00 worth of Coinbase stock.
This news however, represents a significant pivot into the Bitcoin mining industry for the tech giant.
According to the latest data from the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, Bitcoin mining is responsible for approximately 137 terawatt hours of energy consumption per year, meaning Bitcoin guzzles up more energy than most countries.
Previous research conducted by Decrypt found that this generates greenhouse gas equivalents over 60 billion pounds of burned coal, or over 9 million homes’ average electricity consumption per year.
What effect, if any, Intel's new "Bonanza Mine" will have on Bitcoin's energy consumption is yet unclear. An Intel spokesperson told Decrypt that the company will "share more details in the future."
The spokesperson added that the company has "done design work around SHA 256 optimized ASICs for several years beginning with pathfinding work done in Intel Labs."
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to include comments from Intel.