Intel is exploring the creation of specialty hardware for mining the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, according to a U.S. patent application released Thursday.
The patent, filed on Sept. 23, 2016, describes a Bitcoin mining hardware accelerator that may include a processor core with a hardware accelerator coupled with it.
Bitcoin mining is the process of using powerful computer processors to record Bitcoin transactions on a public ledger, which is done by attempting to solve cryptographic puzzles. If the miner becomes the first to solve the puzzle and record the next transaction, it is rewarded with newly released Bitcoin.
The high energy and equipment costs associated with mining have brought into question whether the activity can be profitable, especially as the price of Bitcoin has nose-dived in the past few months, as noted by Forbes. But that hasn’t stopped people from hoarding equipment — one report from Coherent Market Insights pegged the cryptocurrency mining market at $610 million in 2016 and expects it to grow to $38 billion by 2025. The current issues faced by miners also has propelled companies and individuals to find new technologies and methods for making mining more efficient.
That’s where Intel comes in. According to its new patent, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said it has devised a way to reduce “the space utilized and power consumed by Bitcoin mining hardware.”