Fresh from toppling Intel as the planet’s biggest seller of chipsets, Samsung has confirmed that it has begun manufacturing ASIC chips which are used to mine bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies.
“Samsung’s foundry business is currently engaged in the manufacturing of cryptocurrency mining chips. However we are unable to disclose further details regarding our customers,” a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Samsung declined to provide more details when we asked.
The statement follows reports in Korea media which claimed that the tech giant had made the move in collaboration with an unnamed Chinese distribution partner. Samsung already produces high-capacity memory chips for GPUs, which are conventionally used to handle graphics on computers but are also deployed for mining purposes.
The news brings big-name competition to the ASIC space, which is dominated by China’s Bitmain and Canaan Creative, both of which work with Taiwanese giant TSMC. Indeed, the crypto explosion is said to have added $350-$400 million to TSMC’s (already impressive) quarterly revenues.
How Sam fits into this equation isn’t clear right now. At a base level, it will rival TSMC — which it knows well from competing in other industry segments — for the attention of companies that build and sell finished mining products in the market. But, if Sam move brings on new partners or if it makes hardware itself, then it could enable competitors to Bitmain and co.
All the same, it’ll take some major business for crypto have a noticeable impact on Samsung’s bottom line. The Korean firm booked an incredible $69 billion in chip sales in 2017 thanks mainly to the smartphone industry.
Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.