On November 27, 2018, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office accepted a patent submitted in 2016 by the tech giant Intel Corporation for a new energy efficient, high-performance bitcoin mining system capable of outpacing the current model.
Energy Efficient Mining
The patent submission was filed June 29, 2016, and was entitled “Optimized SHA-256 datapath for energy-efficient high-performance Bitcoin mining.” In the original document, the leading computer processor company outlined a proposal focusing on a system to perform Bitcoin mining using specifically designed energy-efficient hardware accelerators.
The patent presents the following introduction:
“A processing system includes a processor to construct an input message comprising a plurality of padding bits and a hardware accelerator, communicatively coupled to the processor, comprising a first plurality of circuits to perform a stage-1 secure hash algorithm (SHA) hash based on the input message, wherein the hardware accelerator comprises a first data path coupled between a first reference node and a first input node of the first plurality of circuits to feed a first padding bit of the plurality of padding bits to the first input node.”
Mining is the essential piece for all cryptocurrencies as it verifies digital currency transactions by solving complex mathematical problems using hardware. Miners are then rewarded with digital coins as compensation for their contribution to the network.
Initially, and in accordance to the main idea proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto, mining could be done with a regular computer through CPU or GPU mining, but once application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) hit the market, mining with a computer was no longer feasible. ASICs were used to speed up benefits, but in turn, this hardware requires large amounts of energy.
Solving Industry-Wide Concerns
With the proposal presented, Intel hopes to revert this by claiming to be capable of introducing “a processing system comprising: a processor to construct an input message comprising a nonce and a plurality of padding bits; and a hardware accelerator, communicatively coupled to the processor.”
The article filled for the patent shows that hardwiring parameters eliminates the need for recursive rounds of computations of these parameters and reduces the overall circuit area and power consumption by about 15 percent. Apart from enhancing the hardware and software capabilities the patent also proposes that the final hardware chip would be smaller than the ones currently used. 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 W. Embodiments of the present disclosure employ micro-architectural optimizations including selective hardwiring certain parameters in Bitcoin mining computation.”
Now that the patent has been approved, Intel should push forward with this proposal and start researching and developing the hardware chips that would relieve many woes in the crypto mining industry.