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MIT Technology Review

Samsung is now making cryptocurrency chips, while Intel looks on

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Having overtaken Intel as the world’s largest chipmaker by revenue, Samsung is boarding the crypto bandwagon. The firm tells TechCrunch it’s making chips for mining cryptocurrencies—making it the first big-name semiconductor firm to do so.

Crypto-mining 101: Cryptocurrency networks rely on computers called miners to verify transactions and maintain the security of public records. Miners are rewarded with cryptocurrency, so it can prove lucrative.

Specialized silicon: You can mine using any processor. But serious miners now use application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for speed advantages.

Few details: Samsung’s announcement is intriguing, but the company is tight-lipped about details. That makes it hard to predict how significant the move is. That said …

Mining is booming: A few Chinese firms dominate the market for crypto-specific chips. Some of those work with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest independent chip foundry, whose crypto chips made between $350 million and $400 million in revenue last quarter. Samsung will hope to compete—and Intel must wonder if it’s to be left behind.