Bitmain has announced the BM1397, a new, more efficient cryptocurrency mining chip. The chip sports a 28% power efficiency improvement over its predecessor. The news brought with a mention of upcoming S17 and T17 models, about which very little other information is available.
According to a press release , the chip uses just 30 joules per terrahash. This means that as much as 33 terrahash can be powered by just 1 kilowatt of power. If an existing mining outfit were to simply replace its existing hashpower with the newer models (once they’re available), the power savings would be immediate.
However, the new models are likely to be even more powerful in terms of terrahash capability than existing models. You’ll be getting more crypto-mining power but paying for the same amount (or more) electricity.
Manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, who had a poor earnings call which they blamed on the downturn in the crypto market, the 7-nanometer chip demonstrates that despite its other problems, Bitmain is still passably working on its core business.
Bitmain has dealt with several scandalous situations in the run-up to its eventual IPO. Layoffs and a boardroom shake-out, combined with more than one pending lawsuit, have led plenty to wonder about the future of the world’s largest Bitcoin mining manufacturer.
2018 was perhaps the worst year for Bitmain. The year-long downtrend in the crypto market reduced interest in mining cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin mining difficulty actually dropped, which is a rare occasion indicating that there are fewer miners on the network. The difficulty will likely spike after the introduction of the new miner models later this year. Bitmain hardware often sells out within hours or days of its launch.
However, there are now three multi-billion dollar cryptocurrencies using SHA256, the heart of Bitmain’s business. Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Bitcoin SV all share the same hashing algorithm. Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu was famously a massive proponent of Bitcoin Cash during its establishment, and development of the top-5 cryptocurrency is partially funded by Bitmain.
If demand surrounding all three grows at a moderate rate in the coming moons, Bitmain will thrive. Cryptocurrency mining is one part of the industry that has very few important players. We have hundreds of exchanges and perhaps a dozen payment processors. But, if you’re going to buy SHA256 hardware, you’re most likely going to buy it from Bitmain. Several other algorithms still rely largely on GPU mining, a factor which Nvidia also blamed some of its financial performance issues on.