Cryptocurrency miners tap Samsung for custom ASICs

Earlier this year, murmurs began to circulate that Samsung was producing ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) specifically for use in mining crypto-money, reportedly thanks to a rather large order from a Chinese client. A Samsung spokesperson has now confirmed the rumor to TechCrunch:

Samsung’s foundry business is currently engaged in the manufacturing of cryptocurrency mining chips. However we are unable to disclose further details regarding our customers.

The confirmation dovetails nicely with an earlier report by Korean publication The Bell, who indicated that Samsung has a deal to supply ASICs to a crypto-currency mining company in China, and that it started mass-producing said chips this past January.

According to TechCrunch, Samsung's entry into this space could let it compete with TSMC for crypto-ASIC orders. Both Bitmain and Canaan Creative, two of the largest mining outfits, currently work with TSMC. Samsung moving into this arena could put pressure on TSMC, a company that reportedly gained $300 to $400 million in revenue in Q3 2017 thanks to miner clients alone.

Even if Samsung and TSMC are enjoying newfound customers from mining ASIC orders, cryptocurrency miners themselves can't be tremendously happy today. Most ASIC-powered mining enterprises have historically focused mostly on mining Bitcoin, and the currency's freefall drop in value (from an almost-$19,000 high on December 17 to the current value of around $7000) may be disappointing or even infuriating to ASIC buyers and foundries alike. Without knowing the mining algorithm Samsung's customers designed their chips to chew through, it's hard to say just how valuable that silicon is or will be in the near future.

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