Samsung Ventures Into The Mass Production Of Cryptocurrency Mining Chips

Samsung is making sure it doesn't miss out on the cryptocurrency craze.

The South Korean chip giant has revealed it will begin building ASIC chips specifically designed for mining cryptocurrency. These processors are specifically designed for a single computational task, as opposed to the multi-purpose processors we now use in our phones and computers.

Until a few short years ago, ASIC chips were more commonly used in the television industry.

Cryptocurrency fever has gripped the world this year, with bitcoin now trading roughly at $10,000, almost 10 times its price this time last year. This created a trend on the market where miners started to move from normal integrated graphics cards to using GPUs designed for gaming.

Fourth quarter earnings were driven by the components business, with the largest contribution coming from the memory business that manufactures DRAM and NAND chips, the company said.

Samsung's existing chip products, which consist of high-capacity memory chips for GPUs, reportedly accounted for more than 60 percent of its 2017 operating revenue.

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The company is said to have completed the process for the development of ASICs for bitcoin mining past year.

The company says that a specific devision within its semiconductor business called Foundry will head up the project.

At present, the ASIC market is dominated by Bitmain and Canaan Creative, with both firms working out of China and in collaboration with Taiwanese firm TSMC.

Mining is a process of solving mathematically complex problems that serve to verify the transactions of cryptocurrency coins. At the time of writing, Bitcoin trades near $9,300.

The disclosure was made in Samsung's latest earnings report, in which the company also said that it had overtaken Intel to become the world's biggest chipmaker a year ago. On Tuesday, Samsung reported 2017 chip sales of $69 billion, blowing past Intel's $63 billion from previous year.

A QZ report notes that cryptocurrency mining added more than $350 million revenue for TSMC in the last quarter.

  • Desiree Holland