However, it looks as though Intel might have come up with a solution for a way to more efficiently mine for cryptocurrency instead of using hardware that was originally designed for an unrelated task. Intel's patent was filed on September 23, 2016 and was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office yesterday. The patent describes a "Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator" that includes a processor core, which can be coupled with a hardware accelerator.
Intel's design is aimed at power efficiency, which is something that all miners like to keep close tabs on in order to optimize their cost/performance ratio. Intel says that its design would "optimize Bitcoin mining operations by reducing the space utilized and power consumed by Bitcoin mining hardware." Intel is quoting up to a 35 percent reduction in power consumption compared to general purpose mining hardware.
"Because of the large amount of power utilized, and the relatively high cost of that power, mining Bitcoins can be a very costly endeavor," adds Intel in the patent filing. "In some embodiments, the cost to mine a single Bitcoin may exceed the value of the mined Bitcoin."
Overwhelming power requirements for cryptocurrency mining recently took center stage in one small New York town. The Plattsburgh council put an 18-month ban on cryptocurrency mining operators from setting up shop in the town. Miners were originally drawn to Plattsburgh for its incredibly low utility rates of 2 cents per kWh. However, the voracious power demands for these cryptocurrency miners pushed the entire town over its power budget, requiring the town to purchase excess power at a premium. Residents saw their bills skyrocket by $100 to $200 per month, which caused immense backlash.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have been on a rollercoaster ride with respect to valuations over the past six months. Bitcoin hit a high of near $20,000 in December 2017, but has since crashed down just below $6,800 today. Ethereum, on the other hand, top out at around $1,400 on January 13th, and is now down to just $376.