Intel Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator Patent Discovered, Has Mining Become Too Lucrative?

2018 saw a boom in cryptocurrency mining which caused a shortage and price hike of GPUs and seems like Intel is preparing to jump into the mining market with its Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator if the patent filed by Microsoft is to be believed.

The patent filed by Microsoft is titled “Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator With Optimized Message Digest and Message Scheduler Datapath”.

The patent for the Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator suggests a method for reducing the energy consumption for Bitcoin mining by 35% and increasing the mined quantity of the Bitcoin at the same time.

Because the software and hardware utilized in Bitcoin mining uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions, the process of Bitcoin mining can be very power-intensive and utilize large amounts of hardware space. The embodiments described herein optimize Bitcoin mining operations by reducing the space utilized and power consumed by Bitcoin mining hardware.

Speaking of Intel, earlier this year Spectre and Meltdown security flaws came to light to which million of Intel devices are vulnerable to.

While Intel has rolled out BIOS updates to protect against these vulnerabilities but, Intel chips are facing a new security flaw, BranchScope, which is almost as hazardous as the Spectre Security flaw.

The success of the attack largely depends on the ability to perform branch manipulations with precise timing. The attacker controlled OS can easily manipulate victim execution timings. For example, the attacker can configure the Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller (APIC) in such a way that enclave code is interrupted after several instructions are executed.

Not only that, Intel has noted that it has completely redesigned its upcoming Cascade Lake and Coffee Lake chips to counter Spectre and Meltdown security exploits.

According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, with the redesign, the chips will be protected against the Spectre variant 2 and Meltdown variant 3 exploit but for Spectre Variant 1, software patches are still required.

Source: US Patent & Trademark Office