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Samsung hopes to strike gold with new cryptocurrency mining chip

Samsung's foundry arm is manufacturing more efficient cryptocurrency mining chips.

By Sabrina Dougall

Samsung Electronics is making headway in the virtual money mining industry with a new ASIC chip. As global interest in cryptocurrencies glows white hot, the hardware giant has begun mass production of a semiconductor designed to mine virtual assets at high speed.

The chipmaker shook hands on a foundry deal with a Chinese hardware manufacturer in January and set the wheels turning on production of the Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), South-Korean newspaper The Bell reported.

“We are in the middle of a foundry business that is being supplied to a virtual money mining company in China,” a Samsung Electronics spokesperson told The Bell.

Samsung Electronics partnered with Taiwanese foundry TSMC to produce its ASIC. The tech giant also enlisted Chinese currency mining firm Bitmain to carry out the major cryptocurrency endeavour. Bitmain, one of the largest virtual money extractors in the world, is currently designing its Ent Minor 9 mining chip.

Analysts at Samsung Securities told the Bell the company is supplying new ASIC technology “to increase profits”, yet difficulties may arise as “the share of foundries in the entire semiconductor sector is not large”.

“Samsung’s foundry business is currently engaged in the manufacturing of crypto-currency mining chips.” Samsung told CBR. “However we are unable to disclose further details regarding our customers.”

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Samsung’s chip production has been gaining traction, as mass production of its 16Gb GDDR6 DRAM graphics card for virtual money mining began in mid January. The DRAM is capable of aiding more efficient currency mining, according to the Bell. The memory unit will also speed computation for automotive, network and artificial intelligence systems, Samsung said in a press release.

“We will strengthen our presence in the gaming and graphics card markets and accommodate the growing need for advanced graphics memory in automotive and network systems,” said Jinman Han, senior VP, Memory Product Planning & Application Engineering at Samsung Electronics in a statement.

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