The first time I heard the term ‘cpu mining’ was when I was working at the company that manufactured chips for the popular smartphone and tablet.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I realised it was something I could be doing, although the process is much more complex than you might expect.
“It was something that we had been doing since the early 1990s,” says Andrew Williams, an ASIC-chip engineer at South West Technologies, the Australian arm of ARM Holdings.
“It was a matter of doing some simple work, and then we’d be able to produce more of that chip and we’d sell it to other people for a few dollars.”
Williams says ASIC-manufacturers are starting to focus on using silicon that is made from low-cost Chinese semiconductor technology to make chips, which they can then use to build other things, such as servers.
“We have a lot of very cheap silicon right now, which is basically the same chip we’re using to produce chips for laptops and other products that are a lot more complicated,” he says.
Williams says South West, which has two offices in Melbourne, has a good track record with manufacturing ASIC chips.
The company has already produced ASIC-based chips for smartphones including the Nexus 7 and the Google Nexus 5X.
It has also created chips for gaming consoles, such the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, which it also sells under the ARM brand.
“As we look ahead, we want to take the technology we’ve got in the market and take it to the next level,” he said.
Williams is also developing chips for mining applications, such mining gold and silver for financial institutions, or mining gold for a business to which it has a customer.
The process is known as chip-for-business.
Williams and his team are working on a prototype of an ASIC chip, which he says will be ready for production by the end of 2017.
“I think it will be a very high-end chip,” he laughed.
Williams and other ASIC- chip engineers say the process works very quickly and there’s a huge opportunity for the industry to expand and increase the number of ASIC-compatible chips being made.””
So it has to be a lot like mining, in terms of the amount of silicon that’s needed to get a chip to be successful.”
Williams and other ASIC- chip engineers say the process works very quickly and there’s a huge opportunity for the industry to expand and increase the number of ASIC-compatible chips being made.
“There’s a lot that can be done with that technology,” he told News.org.au.
“That is why I think it’s important for us to continue to be able, in the near future, to be developing chip-based solutions for other industries, and for the broader world.”