The mining giant has a new ASIC chip. Will it help the company turn its fortunes around?

Bitmain Technologies Ltd. today announced the BM1397, a 7-nanometer ASIC chip for proof-of-work mining. The new chip, made with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s FinFET process, reportedly uses less power, with a 28.6 percent improvement in energy efficiency compared to Bitmain’s previous BM1391 chip. The company maintains that its engineers “thoroughly customised the chip design to optimise its architecture, circuit and economics.”

The BM1397 will be included in Bitmain’s S17 and T17 Antminer models, to be announced in further detail in the future. Moreover, Bitmain says its latest offering “is a part of its aim to help advance the cryptocurrency ecosystem.” The company says it hopes to enable everybody to mine, as well as give existing miners a better mining experience.

Although Bitmain may aim to make mining more accessible, some individuals in the mining community do not see ASIC machines as compatible with that endeavor. For example, ASIC rigs are expensive to build or purchase, are non-upgradeable, and are manufactured by just a few companies (such as Bitmain).

Initiatives like ProgPoW for the Ethereum network seek to limit the advantage that specialized ASIC machines have over more traditional GPU rigs. However, ProgPoW has elicited a mixed response, which is why the Ethereum Cat Herders are gauging the community’s support of and opposition to the proposal.

The announcement of the BM1397 ASIC chip comes a little after Bitmain confirmed plans to “adjust” its staffing. The company did not specify how many employees would be laid off, though co-CEOs Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan stepped down last month. While it has been rumored that Bitmain’s Beijing office size would be significantly reduced (if it has not been already), along with its presence in the Netherlands, operations in Israel and Texas shut down entirely.

Author: Dani Putney
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