Intel granted Bitcoin mining system patent, just as people are abandoning Bitcoin mining

Intel has a patent granted for a system it conceived back in 2016…

A patent application first submitted by Intel over two years ago was granted at the end of last week. But it may have arrived just a little too late.

The technology giant had submitted a patent entitled “Optimized SHA-256 datapath for energy-efficient high-performance Bitcoin mining” way back in the summer of 2016.

The extensive document describes the project thus:

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 hardware accelerator comprising: a first plurality of circuits to compute a stage-1 secure hash algorithm (SHA) hash of the input message, 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, wherein the first data path comprises a hardwire coupled between the first reference node and the first input node, and wherein the first reference node supplies a fixed reference value, a second plurality of circuits to compute a stage-2 SHA hash, and a plurality of data paths to feed the nonce to the second plurality of circuits for performing a plurality of rounds of compression.

Running that through some kind of English translation system, what Intel put forward is, at heart, an idea for a more energy efficient Bitcoin mining system, that also has the advantage of running faster than its current systems. Faster, and more efficient.

The patent got the nod last week, and you can read the full document here.

Less fortunately for Intel, its granting comes at the end of a year that’s seen Bitcoin mining in decline. With the price of the highest profile cryptocurrency threatening to end the year around 80% down on the same period year-on-year, there’s been a waning interest from miners. That, and the growing environmental concerns surrounding the amount of electricity required to mine Bitcoin.

What Intel does with the patent remains to be seen. At the moment, at least it’s one more for the asset bank…

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