In April 2022, Intel made headlines with the announcement of their new Blockscale series of ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits), designed to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
The company positioned its Blockscale 1000 series ASICs as a solution to the continuing shortage of GPUs by offering lower power usage. Intel claimed their Blockscale ASICs would provide the energy efficiency and computing power necessary for scalability and sustainability. The technology’s nature would allow the company to supply a large amount without compromising the supply of new CP and GPUs.
However, in a surprising move, Intel has quietly discontinued the Blockscale 1000 chip, with no plans to introduce upgrades or replacements in the foreseeable future. The company stated that it would continue to support companies that have already purchased Blockscale chips. Still, the project seems to be fading less than a year after its announcement.
ASICs outperform GPUs in blockchain hashing but can only be used for one thing, whereas GPUs can do both mining and gaming. However, in exchange, ASICs achieve a faster hash rate with lower power consumption than GPUs. The Blockscale project came from the “Custom Compute Group,” a specialized team within Intel’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group (AXG).
The value of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin has significantly impacted the development of mining hardware. As the currency’s value fell from nearly $46,000 in April 2022 to below $17,000 in December, the weaker currency makes justifying the hardware investment and power usage required for mining more difficult. Although it has rebounded to just over $30,000 in 2023, it is still well below its peak of $64,000 at the end of 2021.
Intel is phasing out Blockscale chips to focus on its emerging foundry business and its “IDF 2.0” strategy, an attempt to make Intel’s factories more profitable by letting third parties use them