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Samsung is now making cryptocurrency chips, while Intel looks on

January 31, 2018

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.

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