Intel has quietly been working on a patent that is designated to solve one of the biggest problems of the cryptocurrency industry. A filing with the US Patent Office shows that the firm has already filed a document for approval.
The tech giant, which has practically made computing devices a household item with the Intel Pentium processor, which was first unveiled in 1993, is describing a mining hardware accelerator. The main functionality of the unit is to cut down on the cost of electricity that is used by Bitcoin miners.
Brief technical details
According to Intel’s patent, one of the most intensive and costly computations is to find the 32-bit field, whose value is set so that the hash of the block will contain a run of zeros (also called nonce). Once computed, the nonce is appended to the hash of the transaction hashes in the blockchain, the previous hash, and other headers.
The produced 256-bit hash value is less than a pre-defined threshold value. A typical SHA-256 datapath consists of two major computational blocks – a message digest and a message scheduler with SHA-256 specific functions that combine multiple 32-bit words followed by 32-bit additions.
The performance of the fully unrolled datapath is limited by these two data paths. This hashing operation may be the largest recurring cost a miner incurs in the process of creating a Bitcoin and therefore there is a strong motivation to reduce the energy consumption of this process.
By combining a Bitcoin mining hardware accelerator with an optimized SHA-256 message digest and message scheduler datapaths, Intel’s patent aims to achieve a possible 18 percent improvement in the critical path of a new method of computation and another probable 31.5 percent improvement in the critical path of a different set of computations.
“These optimizations may result in a 15% combinational area and 35% combinational power improvement in the message digest logic,” the patent states.
Energy-Intensive mining operations
The mining of Bitcoin has frequently been compared to the use of electricity of whole countries. Falling prices in recent months have caused miners to make much less money with the break-even costs for many countries materially higher than the current rate of $6,900.
A prospective way to significantly reduce the amount of electricity is a positive for the digital currency in the long run, but the panic liquidation of cryptocurrency assets is continuing. Prices of Ethereum are below the $400 mark, as the broad cryptocurrency spectrum is getting decimated in recent days.
China is currently one of the most cost-effective countries for mining Bitcoin, but local authorities have recently reaffirmed a rhetoric that is unsupportive of the digital currency. The PBOC in the meantime has been quietly working on its own cryptocurrency that is centralized.